Google is the pioneer of offering perks to attract top talent, and imitation has become the sincerest form of flattery. A friend of mine who works at Google HQ describes his situation as “too good to walk away from” — even when he gets bored. Free food, snacks, shuttle, laundry, etc have a way of doing that.
The startup scene has followed suit, and escalated to the point where if you don’t offer perks, you’re not considered relevant.
But what if I told you it’s all a facade?
I love to eat. What makes food taste even better is when it’s free. But unlimited snacks and catered lunches are a nice bonus, but they have nothing to do with the mission of the company.
I’m not knocking perks as an enhancement to the employee experience, but let’s be honest: How much does it affect your decision to stay?
Look at it from a financial standpoint: free food for the entire company is far cheaper than giving a raise to everyone. And all that food keeps you inside, away from the distractions of “the rest of life.”
If perks are one of the highest ranking factors retaining your services at your company, your putting faith in fool’s gold. Perks are like purchasing the newest toy. After a while you get used to it, you get bored, and you want more.
When I first started working for my current company, the idea of catered lunches twice a week blew my mind. Now I still appreciate it, but I find myself getting pickier with selection of choices. If it happens to be a meal I love, free lunch is great! If not, I wish I didn’t have to sit through the company meeting during lunch.
Culture and purpose are the most important factors in retention and job satisfaction. Perks shouldn’t be too high on your list of reasons to apply, or to stay. Ultimately what your company strives for — its purpose — and what role you play in that purpose will always outshine any perk offered.