Perks that work and keep staff happier and more productive.
WE all love a good office perk; the odd free movie ticket, bottle of wine, good car park or subsidised gym membership. But sometimes they are just window dressing in a world of tight pay packets and job insecurity.
A study by Corporate Bodies International director Leanne Scanes found health promotion initiatives work. Happier and healthier staff are more productive, there is less absenteeism, fewer are ill and turnover decreases. But there is no obligation for Australian workplaces to provide healthcare or monitor wellbeing. Despite the programs offered, it is usually those predisposed to going to the gym who are likely to take up a subsidised package. The most in need are the least likely to take part.
University of Sydney’s joint head of the Ageing, Work and Health research unit, Philip Bohle, says while gym access, yoga and stand-up desks might improve health, managers need to dig below the surface and look at work-life balance, mental health, the office environment and flexible hours, to determine if staff are engaged and productive.
There are non-traditional perks that may compensate for lower pay in tough times, and make workers feel happier about the environment where they spend much of their working lives. The Australian Human Resources Institute has published a list of unconventional perks, which keep employees happy, lead to higher staff retention. Pharmaceutical company MDA moved offices in Sydney where parking was a premium. MDA offered workers $10 a day if they car-pooled, used public transport or rode bikes. Along with DVDs and movie tickets, Madman Entertainment holds a short-film festival, encouraging staff to create entries during work hours. Californian clothing group Patagonia encourages employees to surf in the middle of the day, selling a lifestyle and a good work environment. Intrepid Travel offers staff 75 per cent off trips with 50 per cent off for partners. It helps staff become more passionate about travel. It might not cost a company much, but providing simple benefits may keep employees onside, and happier.