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Perks at Work - A Good Thing?

Free oil changes, extra week of vacation when you get married, etc, etc, all things mentioned in this article someone forwarded to me. But are these good things? Don't get me wrong, free is good, but there are a few things I think about when it comes to perks:

  • Are they sustainable in lean times? What seemed like sooo much fun to give can have a huge negative impact when it's taken away. Said differently, what starts out as a perk soon becomes an entitlement, it's just human nature.
  • Are they a good retention tool? Given a choice of free oil changes or getting 6 weeks vacation, which will be more likely to help you retain people?
  • Are they a good recruiting tool? I don't under estimate the power of free based on my experience watching fellow geeks queue for free shirts and etc at conferences, but if you add up the cost of oil changes for a year, is that really a deciding factor?
  • Are they easy to administer? Will we have to hire someone just to manage perks?!

I used to work for a company that didn't have many day to day perks, but once a year they sponsored a 3 day company cruise. Employees that had been with the company were able to go at no cost, those with more than three tenure could take their spouse along at no cost. People loved to talk about the last cruise and the next cruise, and it was a powerful message to send to prospective employees - we are not a poor company, we like to have fun, there are benefits to sticking with us. Eventually it was cut when the company was acquired because 'the shareholders wouldn't understand'. I'd think shareholders understand recruiting and retention, but what can you do?

Given a choice of spending $1000 on a cruise once a year, or dribbling it out throughout the year on smaller things, I'd go for the big splash. That presumes OR though. If you can afford to do both, should you?


I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.


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