Do You Need Sexy Perks in the Office?

The corporate perks race is still in high gear, and its showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. That’s because companies of all sizes are feeling the pressure to attract and retain the best talent in their sector. But is their reaction to that pressure causing them to go overboard with their perks? That’s a question that seems to be overlooked as companies seek to outdo each other in the eyes of their employees.

A Rundown of Some of the Sexiest Perks

Here are some of the most exciting perks around:

  • Soundcloud’s Berlin office provides cozy nap pods so that employees can “recharge.”
  • Salesforce has meditation rooms on every floor of its London and San Francisco towers.
  • YouTube's offices in San Bruno, California feature an indoor lap pool, a putting green, and a three-lane slide connecting the second and third floors.
  • Groupon’s Chicago office has an “Enchanted Forest” complete with small “Hobbit” houses in which employees can work quietly.
  • At the Quicken Loans office in Detroit, employees can enjoy a pool table built to look like a vintage Ford Mustang, a basketball court, and in-office scooters.
  • Google’s office in New York features a rock-climbing wall.
  • Google's office in Tel Aviv, Israel has an indoor orange grove built for relaxation.
  • At LinkedIn's headquarters in Mountain View, California, employees can enjoy a music room stocked with high-end equipment like drums, guitars, and keyboards. They even have stage lighting.

LinkedIn Music Room (Business Insider)LinkedIn Music Room (Business Insider)

Do Sexy Perks Really Have a Positive Impact?

The big question, which probably isn’t asked enough, is do sexy perks actually make a difference to the happiness of a workforce? Are they hollow perks without true benefits to the employees?

Times are changing. It’s highly likely that demand for true benefits will outpace the quest for elaborate perks in the coming years. By 2020 nearly half (46%) of the workforce will be comprised of Millennials. This fact should make employers take a second look at the benefits they provide.

According to a report issued by UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, Millennials are continuous learners, team players, collaborators, diverse, optimistic, achievement oriented, socially conscious, and highly educated. Consequently, benefits that don’t address these qualities won’t have any real value to Millennials.

Offer Practical Benefits Instead

In the zeal to attract top talent, companies will likely continue to experiment with sexy perks. After all, it’s a competition isn’t it? Those perks may range from fun to opulent, but many employers may be misunderstanding what matters to employees.

And, employers may not be getting what they expected out of providing the perks. The reality is that the unintended consequence of offering a game room to Millennials is that they may end up being better at ping pong than they are at their jobs. It’s best to skip the distractions and opt for practical benefits that employees really value.

In contrast to the sexy list above, here are some of the most loved benefits as reported to

  • Ikea offers up to four months of paid parental leave to both part-time and full-time employees with at least one year of experience at the company, regardless of whether they work at a retail store or the corporate headquarters.
  • American Express’ parental leave policy offers up to five months of fully-paid leave for both mothers and fathers.
  • Facebook provides healthcare coverage and free housing for interns.
  • Starbucks provides full tuition reimbursement for its employees, covering an online bachelor’s degree program through Arizona State University.
  • Eventbrite helps keep employees healthy by offering a monthly $60 wellness stipend.
  • Whole Foods offers a 20% store discount to all employees, including full-time and part-time employees.
  • Microsoft offers an annual $800 “StayFit” reimbursement program to help cover the cost of gym memberships and fitness programs.
  • USAA offers a 401k program with an 8 percent matching policy.
  • Timberland employees can take up to 40 hours of paid time off per year to volunteer.

Facebook Housing ComplexFacebook Housing Complex

Add Lunch to Your Benefits Lineup

A healthy corporate culture that enables a company to attract and retain the best talent isn’t created and sustained with bells and whistles. It’s forged by and founded upon true benefits that mean something tangible in the lives of employees. Benefits that help employees live a more sustainable and productive life. Perhaps the quest for the most exciting office space and wild perk will slow down in favor of benefits that focus on more personal ways of keeping employees happy.

And, when it comes to personal ways of keeping employees happy, food is at the top of the list. Your employees eat lunch every day. Or, they should. Why not provide them with a free meal? It’s a very personal way to recognize your employees’ value while also supporting a healthy work/life balance. And, you’ll find that the communal nature of sharing a meal will lead to greater collaboration as conversations develop across departments.

So, think twice about offering fancy perks. Stick with true benefits that everyone appreciates. Besides, how many times is an employee really going to play foosball at work? Games get old. Food stays fresh.