The Potential Problem with Perks
Many companies are on the search to find the magic formula that will decrease absenteeism and increase workplace wellness and productivity. These are great objectives however, if the ultimate goal is to change the culture, organizations will need to consider a more holistic and humanistic approach that addresses the workplace environment.
Workers are more stressed and unfulfilled in their jobs. They are increasingly conflicted between working overtime and going home; to use their personal days or to clock-in. So concerned with job security and living the “American Dream” that their reality has become somewhat of an uncertain nightmare.
Sadly, many companies are not aware that the very perks they offer may actually be adding to their employees’ conflict than alleviating it. Some of these benefits include gym memberships, access to healthy food and beverages, happy hours, a room for nursing mothers, and napping pods/rooms; all of which are available on-site. These self-care initiatives are wonderful additions to what a company provides, however they may encourage employees to stay at work longer. These conveniences can create an adverse effect towards helping employees have more work/life alignment if the culture (i.e. leadership) is not reinforcing “balance”, which in turn, does not lessen stress but adds to it.
It can be akin to casinos that purposely do not have clocks or windows and pump more oxygen into the atmosphere to keep patrons there longer. That is not to say that employers are being this sinister to keep their employees at work beyond work hours, but if the only change is to the physical environment and not the culture, organizations will find themselves in a similar predicament where employees will make poor decisions and gamble their time and lives away.
In a 2014 study, Stanford researchers discovered “the productivity cliff” where people who put in 70 hours per week were just as productive as those who put in 55. If employers are looking to increase productivity by having workers stay at work longer, this may not be the actual result. Employees may enjoy the amenities, but find themselves still trading sleep and self-care for work.
Remember, employees want to look like good workers. If they know that their bosses only recognize the employee who comes in early and leaves late, an employee will make the decision to do so in hopes of a promotion.
To be clear, businesses should not do away with these offerings. Instead, companies should encourage their employees to be mindful in using these perks to their advantage to enhance their work day, and not elongate it. Let’s work to support employees to take care of themselves personally and professionally to see real change culturally and real results financially.
Farah is a psychotherapist and workplace wellness champion who guides individuals and organizations in decreasing symptoms of stress and burnout, elevating their emotional intelligence quotient while improving morale by implementing strategies to create healthier and equitable work culture. To hire Farah as a consultant or to speak at your next event, email: email@example.com