Two Rules of Thumb for Offering Perks
During job interviews I always ask candidates about their expectations to the company. How do you choose between different employers? What do you expect from the company? Answers vary a lot. From impactful work and being in global business to friendly team mates. And many candidates mention here also additional perks available.
When it comes to benefits, candidates tend to fall into two categories: the ones who bring out that perks as such should be self-evident nowadays everywhere (asking as bluntly as “How long is your list?”) and others who are not much thinking about those extras but are genuinely positively surprised to hear about the ones company offers.
Tie the perks to your culture
Although in tech sector you can speak of a certain industry standard, as a candidate I’d be rather interested why such a choice of perks and what’s the underlying meaning for different benefits the company offers. Just because others offer it too? Naaah, not that impressive.
For Fortumo it has never been a random list of let’s-offer-what-has-become-a-norm-because-otherwise-we-will-be-doomed.
The point is rather driven by what we value as an organisation and what our culture stands for. And the perks are very much tied to indicate how our values such as #wecare and #oneteam look like and happen in real life.
To bring an example, one of the cornerstones of our benefits is the Health and Wellness package. Everyone who’s got some work and life experience behind their belt knows how easy it is to lose yourself into your challenges at work...and discover suddenly that wow, life is not only about constant work-work-work.
And we want people to keep the healthy flexibility (I personally prefer this term to "work-life balance") in mind when prioritising their choices.
Hey, after all, we’re having a marathon together, not a sprint!
Our H&W package comprises of:
Monthly sports bonus (30 EUR)
Paid sickness days
Paid child sickness days
Fortumo Sports Challenge event series throughout 2 months. We set to discover 8-9 different new sporty acitivites each year (from ballet to American football), learning the basics with the help of a professional coach.
Paid gym hall bookings for certain sports (e.g volleyball)
Paid mental health / burnout prevention training
Dedicated Slack chat to make spontaneous sporty activities happen
Dedicated Sport Competitions calendar on Confluence to encourage and organise joint participation
But do people actually use it? You have to know the answer.
Yes, all the above mentioned benefits in the list sound nice but don’t leave it there. This is something you should track regularly and change when needed.
If you’re offering your sports bonus via SportID, you have good access to usage data. We’re doing regular reminders for people to cancel their sports club subscription if they’re not going there anymore and encourage choosing something different for exchange.
Get data about employee’s preferences via different internal surveys. H&W bonuses have had high score throughout years and we’ve learnt how to improve things thanks to team’s open feedback.
Track the participation/interest in different initiatives and make changes where needed. At some point some of our team mates started going to sports events together. Was a good momentum to advertise the initiative among the whole team — several new faces got encouragement and joined in.
Not everyone is competitive and athletic. Educate your people to find the best choice for them personally. We have launched our Sports Challenge event series with that purpose in mind - offer people a wider selection they could choose their next sporty hobby from + have fun time together.
Actively talk about your principles and good practices. Don’t assume what’s written in the Handbook or covered during onboarding intros sticks instantly. If I’d have to choose I’d always rather go for over communication. For example, a simple rule like “When sick, stay at home” was actually difficult to implement. Even when it’s OK to work remotely or when you get paid if you’re offline using your sickness days. Constant peer pressure and active promotion of using sickness benefits to take care of yourself and save others is what eventually works.
So, two rules of thumb if you feel like offering your team additional benefits:
Track the actual usage of the benefits and make adjustments when and where needed. Money needs to be well spent.
Make them meaningful — tied to your values and what your company culture stands for.