Do Workplace Perks Really Help to Improve Employee Engagement?

Google’s workplace perks are well publicised. From gourmet cafeterias, massage rooms, nap pods to on-site grooming, doctors, and a pet-friendly campus, Google has spent years perfecting their employee perks. It therefore comes as little surprise that this tech giant has been rated as the No.1 company to work for by Fortune, year after year.

However, do you really need to offer laundry services and swimming pools to keep your employees motivated and engaged?

What the studies conclude…

Extravagant perks like a siesta room, gourmet cafeteria, gaming room, etc. would probably make employees happy. But employee happiness doesn’t necessarily mean employee engagement.

According to an article on, many organisations make the mistake of mixing happiness with engagement. Companies like Netflix and Patagonia offer perks like surf breaks, free lunches, etc. Though these quirky incentives attract talent, these are not the only reason behind their success. The article further states that “perks have little impact on long-term human performance. Focusing on short-term pleasures instead of long-term engagement is not only impossible to sustain, but it may even create a delusion of engagement over time.”

Furthermore, Gallup conducted a study on the relationship between workplace policies and employee engagement levels. It mentioned that keeping employees happy played an important part in building a more positive workplace. At the same time, simply measuring their happiness levels was not sufficient to retain employees and improve the bottom line.

“Leaders will buy miserable employees latte machines for their offices, give them free lunch and sodas, or even worse – just let them all work at home, hailing an ‘enlightened’ policy of telecommuting. Hell, some of these practices might even earn your company a business magazine’s Great Place to Work award. The problem is, employee engagement…. isn’t budging,” Jim Clifton, Gallup Chairman and CEO.

Two sides of the ame coin

Despite the findings above, these facts alone don’t necessarily reflect the entire picture. But they do help in understanding that companies must pay attention to other things before they introduce such benefits.

MetLife’s Employee Benefits Trend study mentioned that there is a relationship between satisfaction with benefits and engagement among employees. Thus, it’s clear that perks do play a role in improving engagement, but they aren’t standalone solutions.

Perking up the engagement level

A study mentioned in Forbes highlighted that quirky perks like massage rooms, on-site child care facilities, Lego stations in the workplace, etc. are of limited utility to employees. They prefer more traditional benefits like health insurance, paid leave and so on.

Thus, the secret is to focus on the nature and type of perks that will be most relevant – do the perks resonate with the employees? Are they too expensive for the company? Will they make a significant impact? Companies need to keep in mind what kind of perks will improve employees’ lives and benefit them, be it in the short or long term. After all, what benefits one company may not necessarily benefit yours.

“Perks are a reflection of the mission, or a representation of the (company) culture. There are lots of organisations that do cool things for employees that employees feel are valuable to them, but they aren’t things you’ll find in Silicon Valley and that’s okay.” – Anil Saxena, a partner with Great Place to Work that produces Fortune’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For.

If you’ve got your perks in place but would like some advice on how to source the best talent, get in touch with us. As an online recruitment specialist, we can provide you with competitive fixed price recruitment solutions. Connect with us on Twitter or LinkedIn to know more!