How important are work perks?
When searching for a new role, you’re more than likely to have a few ‘wants’ in mind. This might mean working in a particular location (close to public transport or school drop-offs) or ensuring a move up the corporate ladder. But what about perks like on-site gyms and catering?
First, there’s the ‘holy grail’ of employers — like Google, where HQ employees receive free gourmet meals; access to (seven) fitness centres, bowling alleys, rock climbing walls and game rooms; and great benefits such as napping pods, yoga classes, organic veggie gardens and meditation areas. But even at smaller companies, you’ll still find little add-ons and morale-boosting incentives to keep workplace culture in check.
We take a look at some of the best workplace benefits and consider how essential they are for your job happiness and wellbeing.
- Professional development and training: If you feel that you’ve stopped learning in your role, lack of professional development and training is usually to blame. A good workplace will keep you learning on the job, while also providing opportunities to take on external training and continue expanding your skill set. Training days don’t have to be frequent but employers should understand their value.
- Work–life balance: Most employers will provide some degree of flexibility, whether it’s the freedom to work from home once in a while, set your own hours, take extended paid parental leave or bring the family pet to the office. The opportunity to take study leave is also important if you are combining work and study, particularly when assessments begin to pile up around you. Volunteering days are another perk — giving you the opportunity to get out of the office and give back to the community.
- Reward and recognition incentives: While you can’t expect every victory to be celebrated with a pay jump, it’s nice to feel recognised. This may be through cracking open some champagne on a Friday or simply a group email announcing a completed project or milestone. Some companies go as far as awarding points to employees and co-workers for a job well done, which can be used to make ‘purchases’ once a certain balance is reached. The reward may be a day off, massage voucher or nice bottle of wine, for instance.
Then there are non-essential, ‘nice-to-have’ perks. These won’t necessarily make or break your experience, but they certainly sweeten the deal if you’re evaluating a job offer.
- Salary sacrificing arrangements: You may be able to package a car (and parking), health insurance, child care, a phone or a laptop — this varies from employer to employer but can be very beneficial come tax time. Profit share schemes may also be available, typically with SMEs. It’s worth asking these questions in your interview or in follow-up conversations with hiring managers.
- Discounts on goods and services: Retail, food, entertainment and travel discounts may be available, in some cases extending to financial products (such as better deals on credit cards, superannuation and loans). This is usually through partner, subsidiary and sister brands.
- Office gyms or cheaper memberships: Some offices provide on-site gyms, which can make getting some exercise in before or after work much easier! In the absence of a gym, you may be able to access discounted rates at nearby centres.
- Catered lunches: This isn’t just the odd team lunch here and there; some companies commit to providing breakfast and lunch for employees every day. More common are free access to coffee and tea, and fruit, milk and snack deliveries.