Are Work Perks Worth It?

When your friend sends you a front row photo of herself from the season’s most anticipated baseball game and tags it #workperks, it might make you wonder when you’ll ever get to enjoy such “perks” at your work. Right now you don't even have your own desk!  

Exclusive gym memberships, game rooms, free catered lunches, Netflix subscriptions and company trips are just some of the most popular work perks being offered in major corporations these days. There is no doubt that these make for a positive work culture, but do these freebies come at a cost?  

With articles such as “Got Millennials? Workplace Perks That Attract the Next Generation of Bright Workers” and “10 Low-Cost Employee Perks That Pay” detailing how to attract workers with benefits that are cost effective to the company (hint: not medical insurance), the workplace benefits landscape is changing. 

Rebecca Greenfield of Bloomberg points out that exciting work perks can often be a way to compensate for lower salaries (2016). Keeping in mind that "as income decreases, mental well-being also decreases" (Canadian Mental Health Association, 2016), many of us would probably want the extra cash rather than sports tickets and nap pods.   

not all work "perks" are equal

The importance of health benefits that usually come to mind, such as health and dental insurance, cannot be understated. An unexpected dental procedure, for example, can cause stress, especially when the cost throws you off guard and finances are already tight. 

"Employment benefits help to promote and maintain a healthy work-life balance" (Robert Half, 2016) which is important for overall mental well-being. Although we can't always be picky about looking for jobs with great benefits, we should not neglect to critically evaluate the benefits package being offered to us; sometimes it may seem very attractive but it may not cover the most critical life expenses. 

Below are a few pros and cons of work "perks" (i.e., napping rooms, food, trips, etc.) to help get you started on evaluating job decisions based on perks/benefits:

PROS

  • Free social events where you spend time with your coworkers outside of work help build good relations amongst colleagues at all levels of the organization. Social support is one of the best ways to support mental health at work.
  • It could save you money. Group discounts are often offered for activities, gym memberships, etc. Take advantage of the deals! 
  • You might actually be motivated to go to work if you know there is a complementary juice bar and comfy egg chairs waiting for you. Perks can increase employee motivation and drive and overall productivity. 

CONS

  • The money being spent on perks might be coming out of your salary. The sum on your pay check could be greater if it wasn't going towards perks. 
  • Chances are if you have a family at home, participate in extracurricular activities, or volunteer outside of work, you won't have much time to make use of all the work perks.
  • You may feel obligated to use the perks being offered even though they don't really reflect your interests/tastes. You don't want to waste the resources you've probably already paid for out of your pay check.                        

What do you think about companies offering work perks such as gym memberships and free food? Can they benefit employee mental health? Are they more important than health/medical benefits? Share your views with us in the comments below!

Photo Credit: http://raconteur.net/public/img/articles/2013/07/employee-benefits-2012.jpg

References

Canadian Mental Health Association (2016). Income. Retrieved from http://ontario.cmha.ca/mental-health/services-and-support/income/

Greenfield, R. (2016, April 21). Office perks are dumb. Bloomberg. Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-04-21/office-perks-are-dumb

Robert Half (2016). Why you shouldn't overlook employment benefits when weighing a job offer. Retrieved from https://www.roberthalf.ca/en/job-seekers/career-centre/negotiating-a-job-offer/why-you-shouldnt-overlook-employment-benefits-when-weighing-a-job-offer