It’s been awhile since I last wrote about work perks and since we’re at the start of a new year, I thought it was time to check out what’s new in perks. Work perks fascinate me because they can cut both ways — design a good program and you’ll offer a truly valuable benefit to your employees and be rewarded for it in increased productivity; design a bad program and you’ll drain the resources of your company and burn your employees out even more. And although startups are known for offering quirky perks that do little to actually improve workers’ lives, I think most seasoned hires can see right through these bad perk programs. Once you’ve been burned by a so-called perk that somehow makes your work life harder, you don’t usually get burned again.
So what are the perk trends in 2017? So far they’re exactly the same trends that dominated 2016: debate around remote and flexible work, increasing child care and parental leave and value-adding unconventional programs.
Ready? Here is your Friday Five:
Starbucks has been steadily increasing its work perks and benefits package, not just for its corporate employees but for its frontline staff as well. That makes it unusual for a retailer, as these companies too often leave skip the frontline in their retention and development strategy, in favour of “key” personnel. Starbucks’ focus on these workers is smart, making them an employer of choice, not just one of last resort. Their newest move is parental leave. Here are the details:
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“Effective October 1, partners (Starbucks lingo for baristas) who give birth are entitled to six weeks of leave paid at 100% of their annual pay, an increase from the prior benefit of 67% of average pay over that time period. To be eligible for Starbucks’ benefits, the employee must work a minimum of 20 hours per week. Additionally, any benefits-eligible baristas who welcome a new child (a new father, a foster parent or by adoption), are eligible to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave.”
More and more freelancers and remote workers are setting up offices in co-working spaces. These provide the structure, camaraderie and amenities of an office space, without putting that burden (of rent, furniture, etc) on your employer. It’s not a great deal for remote, full time employees in my opinion, not unless their employer pays for their spot. But for freelancers and small, entrepreneurial teams it’s a sometimes necessary and very welcome modification to how they work. As co-working spaces become more established and cater to a wider variety of clients, we’ve seen them offering more amenities and now work perks. The New York Times reports that the new draw at the city’s hottest co-working spaces is childcare.
Do you need a change more than a rest? Maybe you should try to convince your employer to pay for a workation. Here’s how it works: you travel to some gorgeous, enviable destination and instead of playing tourist you… work. You work a lot. Some managers of Workation hotels say that guests work even harder while staying with them than they do in their home office. So what do you think? Do you need a workation? (No, the answer is is no.)
If a workation can’t help you, what can? Real Business suggests that philanthropy may be the key to giving you and your workers a sense of purpose and that a sense of purpose goes a long way toward making you satisfied and happy. I talked about the importance of your corporate giving matching your company culture and the benefits of having a well-designde philanthropic program earlier this week. But Real Business says it goes beyond the boost to your corporate brand: having a good program makes your whole company run better.
For regions experiencing a skilled labour crunch, paying to teach new Americans is becoming just another part of their business plan. The Boston Globe talks to several firms who’ve been offering such programs, workers who’ve been the beneficieries of them, and instructors. The best job skills and language skills don’t always go together, and while such programs represent a huge investment by employers, they can pay off in increased productivity, skills and loyalty.