When does a workplace benefit become simply a gimmick?

What does it take for an employer to attract talent? Ask yourself what you would consider most appealing, were you to start hunting for another position right now. Would it be bonuses? The opportunity to purchase more holidays?Free breakfasts and games? We could increase this list ad finitum – but the answer to the question is actually rather simple. It depends on the individual in question.

So, in the drive to attract ‘top talent’, many employers have been throwing out such benefits, or perks, almost haphazardly. Here are some of the positives and potential negatives of the most common perks you are likely to encounter in the job market today.

Wellness programmes

First of all, wellness is a broad term. It involves mental and physical wellbeing (while you may also find the term ‘spiritual’ thrown around, depending on the employer). And this is great, in essence. Who doesn’t want to be ‘well’ when at work? It’s evidently far better than the alternative. However, if the alternative is, or becomes reality, how exactly will a wellness programme help? An article in the Guardian highlighted the different ends of the wellness programme spectrum, from access to professional therapists (great!), to unlimited granola in the morning (not so much…). If this is the sort of perk that appeals to you, be sure to ask what it actually entails before taking the job.

Unlimited holidays

Is it though, really? And, if so, what are the financial implications? It sounds wonderful, in essence. The idea of being able to take the usual 4-6 weeks off every year – and then exchange wages for as many more holidays as you like beyond that. But think about this for a moment. If you were running a business, could you afford for every member of staff to take unlimited holidays, even if you weren’t paying them for the privilege? As explained in this BBC News article, this “latest American import” doesn’t work for everyone. If this kind of perk is the ‘clincher’ in your decision to apply for a new role, think again. It might not be worth the pressure of the role in the long run – and you may need a solid wellness programme to in order to cope.

Social events and “cool” workplaces

Agreed. When you write cool in quotation marks, it becomes distinctly uncool. And this could well be the scenario awaiting anyone who opts for a role simply because it looks like a fun place to work. At the end of the day, social events can be organised with or without help from employers. And as for fun workplaces, it doesn’t take much to liven up the usual 9-5 (having an occasional pug wandering around is probably going to get annoying after a while). A genuinely cool office will be designed from the ground up with its employees in mind, rather than sprinkled with the occasional gimmick. To learn more about luxury office design – and that’s genuinely cool luxury office design – check out what Maris have to offer. Always take in the surroundings of the office space, what would be best to add? What could work overall in the provided space? How will your employees navigate this? It is highly important to take that into account, for example, if you have a certain amount of employees that work on sensitive materials then it may be wise to look at office dividers so they are protected and can freely work with security.

Ongoing training and development Yes, yawn. But also… yeah. Cool (without quotation marks!). After all, this is how you’ll progress in your career. It might be more work, but, at the end of the day that’s what work is. No amount of perks can compensate for the 8 hours or so you spend away from home for 5 days of the week, but to make the most of it you need to know there’s genuine progression in store down the line. Again, you do need to be sure of what something like ‘lifelong learning’ means, within the workplace, but this is a benefit that’s worth your time. If ongoing training and development is an option, it could give you more opportunity to enjoy holidays and social events in the future. And that’s certainly going to help your wellness, physical, mental, or otherwise, as you get older.