The culture of perks 

I’ve previously written about both culture and perks . . . and this time I am going to combine the two!

We love Geoff Colvin’s description of great places to work as being ‘personal not perkonal’ but we think the key to a really great organisational culture is to offer perks which are personal . . . and this means knowing what makes individual employees tick!

Some large companies have changed their ‘perk offering’ (apparently in response to the introduction of the National Living Wage) . . . new employees no longer automatically become partners in John Lewis, Caffe Nero replaced free lunches with a staff discount and Zizzi limited its staff menu to a margherita pizza or a plate of spaghetti. Dropbox too altered its perk package – because it was paying out for benefits that were unused.

I’ve mentioned many large companies above but, at Agar, we often work with small organisations. Arguably, for them it is even more important that the perks on offer meet the needs of the staff – after all, perks are about showing people you value and appreciate them . . . and want them to stay! So, how do you know what will motivate people? The simple answer is – ask them! We use Insights personality profiling extensively with our clients and one of my favourite parts is the page that suggests ways to provide an environment in which that particular individual is likely to flourish. I also love one of the activities we do with groups where we get people to identify the three things that motivate them most from a large list . . . it really does illustrate that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ and is often a real eye-opener!

Research is showing that the fastest-growing trend is for employers to help their workers get in shape. Journey HR explain that when staff are ‘encouraged to live healthily, it really infiltrates the culture’. At Agar we don’t provide subsidised gym membership, free food or company cars. We’ve found that the biggest perks for our small team are trust, time and flexibility . . . and the most beautiful thing is that they are all connected. If you work at Agar you are trusted to manage your own workload, work when you want to work and given the freedom to think for yourself. In line with this, we have recently brought in an ‘unlimited holiday’ policy. Employees chose responsibly when and how frequently to take holiday (taking account of work demands). We know that ‘culture matters’ and we aim for our culture to be one of trust and freedom.

Make your perks personal by finding out what is important to your staff so that the culture is one in which people feel truly valued for their individual contribution.

Dee Cooper

Director – Agar Management Consultancy

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