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The Perk Imperative: Rewarding Employees is More than Just Nice… It’s Profitable

This post is part of a series on Stakeholder Engagement sponsored by Jurat Software.

By Jonathan Schoonhoven

Google has its staff masseuses. Airbnb has its in-office tree house. Yelp provides employees unlimited beer on tap. Dropbox boasts a room dedicated to the game Dance Dance Revolution. Everywhere you look, tech startups from Seattle to San Diego are engaged in an arms race of employee perks. “Working at Airbnb “is like a really fun school where you get paid,” said Joe Gebbia,to the Wall Street Journal, “Or maybe it’s more like camp.” Suddenly, if your office doesn’t look like a ten-year-old’s deepest dream-come-true, you can’t be a player in the industry.

Away from the Silicon Coast, however, these ostentatious spending sprees are seen with a shrug and a “kids-these-days” sigh. In the new book, “I’m Feeling Lucky” by a former Google Brand Manager, Douglas Edwards tells of his concern at first sight of Google’s notoriously luxurious employee benefits. He remembers, “A warning light flashed in my head at that. This was the guy who didn't think there should be a marketing budget, and he had hired a chef and two massage therapists?” Even from day-one, Google cultivated a culture of lavish employee perks.

And yet, despite their apparent financial recklessness, Google, Airbnb, Yelp, and Dropbox continue not only to survive, but to reign high over their competitors, perched atop their towering mountains of revenue. Through some black magic, their mindless pursuit of a bigger, better, cooler workplace seems almost to resemble a kind of strategy. Now, new studies from the likes of Gallup and Towers Watson just might vindicate them.
Gallup’s landmark Q12 Meta-Analysis began a sea-change in the way companies in and outside the tech industry think about employee rewards and engagement. Suddenly, Google’s overspending didn’t seem so crazy.

The study found that, just by being above-average at engaging employees, businesses double their odds of success compared to below-average businesses. For companies in the top one-percent of employee engagement, businesses quintuple their odds of success. And for companies like Google, Airbnb, Yelp and Dropbox—the very best of the best—their success speaks for itself.

This was not a revelation for tech industry leaders who, no doubt, had long known or suspected that their success was correlated to their priority on their own workforce. It was, however, a revelation for companies outside the tech industry who had, until recently, seen employee rewards and benefits solely as a cost driver. Now that there were trusted organizations claiming that employee rewards were key to business success, many started rethinking the way they care for their staff. More and more, companies whose employees once enjoyed no perks but the occasional free donut are rewarding their workforce with free lunches, gym memberships, laundry services, etc. etc. etc. Even at smaller and medium-size businesses, generous perks are now the rule—no longer the exception. Successful companies know that rewarding employees is more than just nice: it’s profitable.

BetterWorks brings all-size businesses Google-quality perks at Costco prices. We offer pre-negotiated corporate rates on the things you and your employees already spend money on every day. It’s the easiest way to offer your employees fabulous perks at any budget. Check out BetterWorks.com to learn more about rewarding employees, driving engagement and saving money while doing it.

Jonathan Schoonhoven manages content and marketing for BetterWorks. You can read more on building your business with employee rewards and engagement on the BetterWorks HR blog. For questions and comments, follow @jtschoonhoven or email jon@betterworks.com.

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