In startups and larger organizations alike, there’s a misconception that employee perks and company culture are one and the same.
Both are important for employee engagement and retention. Both can help to attract new hires and differentiate you from the competition–but there is an important difference.
Your company culture is determined by what your company stands for and how you treat customers and employees. It gives substance to your business by creating a sense of purpose, community, and meaning.
Company culture is determined by what your company stands for and how you treat customers and employees.
Perks, on the other hand, help to dress your company up. In the best case, employee perks and benefits support your company culture by putting into action your values and beliefs. In the worst case, they serve as a dangerous distraction from underlying issues within your business.
Ping pong tables are not your company culture, free snacks are not your company culture, even paid days off are not your company culture.
Put another way: Culture is what’s left behind when you strip all those perks away.
Perks help to dress your company up. Culture is what’s left behind when you strip all those perks away.
How to build an authentic company culture was the main topic at the first-ever DisruptHR conference held in Kitchener-Waterloo. Collage co-founder Elijah Moore took to the stage to talk about ‘cheap and easy’ perks and how they affect company culture, from startups to large organizations.
Watch the five-minute video below:
Key takeaways from the video:
Perks are easy to observe and communicate
It’s easier to say “we cater lunches on Fridays” than “we treat our employees with kindness and respect” in a job description. But guess which one is more important?
Perks are [dangerously] cheap and easy
For startups with limited resources, affordable perks like free coffee and video games can seem like a great way to attract new talent. But be careful of attracting the wrong people. “If the difference between joining your company or not is a cold brew machine, what does that say about the opportunity that you’re offering?”
Perks are fun! They keep up morale!
This shouldn’t be overlooked: good perks do improve employee engagement, reduce stress, and help keep morale high. However, perks do not substitute actual job satisfaction or a decent salary.
Perks aren’t just for startups
It’s easy to associate ping pong tables with cliché startup environments, but even large organizations are turning to trendy work perks to vie for millennials’ attention. Again, this can be a great way to attract new hires, but be weary.
“It can seem really inauthentic if you’re layering perks on top of a culture that doesn’t align. Be careful of trying to fit in with the cool kids,” says Elijah. “We try to align the purpose of our software with how we treat our customers and how we treat our employees. We take care of people.”
“It can seem really inauthentic if you’re layering perks on top of a culture that doesn’t align. Be careful of trying to fit in with the cool kids.”- Elijah Moore, CEO of Collage
All of this isn’t to say that perks are bad. Just don’t let them become a stand-in for company culture. Before introducing a new perk, ask yourself this: What is your company like standing naked in the mirror?
Watch: Four more videos from DisruptHR KW
DisruptHR KW brought together a number of Canadian business innovators changing the way we think about talent, culture, and technology. Here are four more great videos with TED-style talks from the pros:
Grail Noble, Culture Failure and How to Avoid it
For Grail Noble, Owner & CEO of Yellow House Events, overbearing rules were destroying her company culture, and no amount of trendy perks were going to help. So she came up with a new model: deconstruct, simplify, and replace rules with values.
Jeff Waldman, Yes I Can’t Hear, So What?
In this talk, Jeff Waldman, Founder of SocialHR Camp, makes the case for hiring persons with disabilities to bridge the talent gap. Only 17% of the one billion persons with disabilities are employed, however, data shows that they work harder and display higher retention and attendance. Employers need to get over their hiring biases and start bringing in this invaluable talent.
Jackie Cooper, Mindfulness in the Workplace
Jackie is EVP of Sales and Marketing at InteraXon Inc., makers of the Muse meditation assistant. She shares how we can improve our lives–and our executive performance–through better brain management.
Lindsay Gibson, Authenticity in the Workplace
Lindsay Gibson, COO of TextNow, firmly believes that failure is an option. She learned this herself after receiving poor reviews from her team, and coming face to face with the reality that she’d been a “horrible boss.” Authenticity, she says, requires vulnerability. Employers should give their employees the option to try and fail.
For more disruptive talks on the future of HR, see the full list of videos from the Kitchener-Waterloo event.
The next DisruptHR will be happening in Toronto, and Collage is proud to be a sponsor. For details and to register, visit www.disruptHR.co/toronto.
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