Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Perk Me (A Work-Related Post)

Are you taking care of your employees? A paycheck is nice, but could you be doing more?

We hear stories of free food, ultimate frisbee pitches, Segways, foos ball tables and dog walkers, private shuttles, loaner bicycles, etc., etc., etc. - but it's true... we can't all be Google.  We're not rolling in the green, our shareholders might not like it, or we're not in it for the money and our donors or benefactors might not like to see us feeding everyone lunch every day.

But if you think about it, we ask people to work every day during the prime hours. Sure, the kids are in school, but these are the same hours as the banks, doctors, dentists, car repair, etc.

So often when life crops up, we see our staff distracted, or even missing work to take care of things.  That's not good for them and not good for us.  Even if they make up the time or they're hourly and they go off the clock, it means that they're not available for meetings or phone calls, you might wait longer to hear back from them and don't even get me started about switching costs.

But if you demand the prime waking hours of your staff, isn't it possible that you can help make their lives a little easier?  Here are some examples (some I've seen, some I'm just making up on the spot with no idea as to their overall feasibility).  If you're a small shop, you might co-op with other small businesses for effectiveness.

These take a little work and perhaps a little time to maintain, but they sure beat saving it all up for a big party once a year.  Your extroverts love those and your introverts suffer through them but everyone's thinking about how the work isn't going to do itself while they're sitting there and they're thinking about the cost and just wish they had a Starbucks gift card and could get back to work.

So, here's some ideas.  I'd love to hear yours in the comments section below or your experiences with any of these ideas.

1. Employee Discounts - call local businesses and ask if they'll give discounts to your employees when they show their badge (your employees don't want no stinkin' badges? things like this might help). In exchange, the companies get regular coverage on your intranet/newsletter and bulletin boards around the office. And if they have services you can use (like catering), you can throw a little business their way. National businesses (like computer companies, cell phone providers, car rental companies, banks, insurance companies, etc., also love to offer discounts in exchange for the prospect of cheaper acquisition and retention costs)

2. Pick-Up and Delivery - there are a number of companies that exist to help out here. From dry-cleaning to car repairs to groceries, you can get it delivered. Organize a dry cleaning day. Buy a rack, put it in the lobby and every Tuesday, people drop off their dry cleaning and every Tuesday on the way out they pick up their dry cleaning. The dry cleaner keeps their information on file for billing.

3. On-Site Services - similar deal - there are companies that will come on site and perform services, typically car-related, from windshield chip repair to oil changes and even car washes. Or massages or fitness classes. Your employees pay themselves, probably at a discounted rate and the companies come because they're guaranteed a minimum number of participants.

4. Landscaping - we can't all have "XBox Conference Rooms" but if you maintain your own campus, take a look around. Do you invite people outside? Have you got covered/shaded areas with clean seating that can be used for meetings/eating lunch outside? (Are they within your corporate wi-fi footprint?) Is there a space for a walking trail to promote health and provide sanity breaks? Don't just create a smoking area and call it good.

5. Recognition Perks - for simply the cost of a sign or two, do you have Employee of the Month parking spaces near the door? A little write-up on the company intranet/newsletter telling staff a little more about them.  And on a more day-to-day basis, how does the company celebrate wins? I read this article a few years ago in Inc. that's stuck with me - when someone did something that was a win for the organization, several managers from other areas were required to send handwritten notes acknowledging what they'd done (in a way that proved the understood) and congratulating them. I don't have to tell you that after awhile it was no longer required because people just naturally did it. The company grew closer together, people started to have a better appreciation for other parts of the organization and people felt valued.

And that's what it's all about, right? Valuing your employees. Because let's face it, staffing is the biggest expense and retaining a great employee is much less expensive than recruiting and then training a replacement. We tend to overlook those real costs of asking people to cover while there's an open headcount, reduce their own productivity while training, just not to mention the value the open headcount isn't contributing to your organization.

Don't get me started on the whole term "Human Resources" - oops, too late - such a dehumanizing and impersonal term that puts the company first instead of the employee first. We don't consider our customers "Monetary Resources" - I feel we ought to be using terms like "Employee Resources" or "Personnel Support" or "Staffing Services" to remind everyone that this group's role is to help employees to be successful, not that they're like the supply cabinet full of interchangeable resources. 

Oh, and that reserved parking space photo up there?  It's nice, but it's not great. I'm guessing at this particular hospital, they never award this to the doctors, as they all have reserved parking closer to the building than this space. To me, that's a failure.
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