The Business Case For Fun
Yoga classes, massage therapists, game rooms, kickball games, fully stocked kitchens, gyms, wellness speakers, and a concierge. These are just a few of the perks our employees take advantage of – but for business owners like myself there is often a question that comes alongside these perks. Namely, what is the return on investment if I close the office for a day to take the whole staff out to a baseball game? To an Irish pub on St. Patrick’s Day? How do I make the fiscally responsible argument for fun?
Determining Which Perks are Important to Your Business
In 2002 when I opened Arrow Strategies, I had a very clear image in my head of what kind of place it would be. I wanted to start a company that I would want to work for. I thought back to my days as a recruiter – a tense, high pressure role where I frequently needed to blow off steam. I remembered walking through the office and not having an outlet for that energy. In those earliest days when both space and resources were at a premium, I set up a game room. I knew the dedication and mindset I was going to be hiring for, and I wanted to be sure that my people had a way to help deal with the rollercoaster ride that is staffing. I wasn’t thinking about ROI. I was thinking that I would like to challenge people to a fierce game of bubble hockey.
When I rolled out our unlimited PTO plan, my peers eyebrows shot up. Won’t it be abused? Will anyone ever come into work? Again, I had been a recruiter myself and I knew what it took to be successful. I was working until 9:00 pm most nights and putting in calls on Saturdays. To come into the office and have to fill out a form simply to request two hours off for a dental appointment was deflating. When you have the right people, you don’t have to tell them how much time to take. I wasn’t thinking about ROI- I was thinking that if my team was performing, what difference did it make how many days of PTO they took?
When you employ the hardest working, most passionate, and most fanatical people in the industry, they are all in. Many of the perks that we offer looks at the person as a whole and asks, “This employee is committed to success, how can I help and remove hurdles and challenges for them?” This is how our concierge service and fully stocked kitchen came to be. If my employee doesn’t have to worry about scheduling an oil change, or picking up their dry cleaning, or running out for lunch, they are that much better able to focus on what they need to accomplish during the day.
Ledger Entry: “Great Time With the Team”
So how do we calculate the cost of perks versus the rewards gained? What is that actual dollar amount that we get back from taking our whole staff out for a day off, Ferris Bueller style? I admit, here there is a bit of a slight of hand…because in order for your employee perk program to really work, it can’t be about ROI. We do all of these things for our staff because it is part of our culture. It is in the DNA of who we are. I can search for the dollar amount that having a concierge has saved us by allowing our top producers to be in the office instead of out getting a tire repaired, but the reality is that I do it because I wanted to own a fun and quirky company. Perks such as these bring to life that vision. Unless your employees can see and live who you are as a company- until they have tangible proof of it- your vision is nothing more than words on a paper.
In the end, there is no redeeming business value to loading people into a bus and taking them to a pub. In fact, most of our team’s favorite perks are about as far removed from business events as you can get. If you go into employee perks just looking at what you can get back, it will be felt by your staff. We aren’t the only company that talks about culture and prides itself in putting people first, but unless your employees really feel it- it is just lip service.
Jeff Styers is the President and CEO of Arrow Strategies, an award-winning talent acquisition and staffing firm specializing in IT, Engineering, Professional, and Healthcare placements.