I first got into the recruiting business in 1997, selling job fairs and online job board ads to corporations across the United States. It was love at first sight, as I really enjoyed working with companies to help them find the right candidates. I also loved working with the candidates, helping them to make important career decisions. After 15 years in the business, the one thing I’ve noticed is how much effort, money and time companies put into hiring people and how little is put into engaging them in their work, and ultimately, retaining them.
The truth of the matter is that recruiting and retaining people are like two wings on the airplane. You need both in full operation to get the plane off the ground and to its destination safely. The same is true in the world of finding and keeping great employees. The question is, what are the key factors that we have control over that are most likely to raise the level of employee engagement? There are many points here I could discuss, but for the purposes of the blog, I’m going to focus on just one called perks.
When you consider characteristics of a good company to work for include having a great product or service to offer, a solid compensation plan, a bonus potential for good performance, a comprehensive benefit plan that includes good health insurance, dental, vision and disability coverage, a good retirement plan, vacation time, etc. These are great benefits, but they’re not perks because employees expect them and to a degree, need them. Perks on the other hand, are things employees want more than need and would not expect them, making their impact much more significant. Examples would include discounts at their favorite retailer or restaurant, movie tickets, passes to their favorite gym, gift certificates for stores they like to shop at, both online and offline, itunes credit, and the like. Employees don’t need these things but they really like them. The key to perks is to offer things that people get emotionally excited about and give them opportunities to earn them frequently.
In other words, what they really want is the jelly beans every 50 feet. Imagine your workforce having continuous opportunities to earn perks that they want badly and really like. The level of engagement and commitment to achieve great levels of performance go up significantly. Imagine the things they tell their friends as a result? Can you see what they’ll write on Facebook, LinkedIn and Tweet about? How much good will does that create? How effective are those free ads that your employees are writing worth to you? How does that differentiate your company from others and attract great potential employees, customers and vendors? I think the answer is obvious. The question for you is this: Are you offering the jelly beans every 50 feet that your people really want?