Government programs are the minimum!
The same may hold true to things which are specific to your industry.
Reflecting back on that time, there were a couple of unique benefits that were far more compelling to me as an employee. The first was free food and coffee every day, which then became weekly, then became a sad coffee machine sitting in the corner. When this was downscaled (due to a budget crunch of course), I was shocked to see how many people attached this to the core values of the company.
The second was our end-of-project celebration dinners. After working our tails off for a year or more, it was amazing to get together socially, with spouses, to recognize and celebrate this major achievement.
When budget controls attempted to kill these events in the 1990s, I was a manager and I fought back hard, scraping up a little money because I saw the deep value they brought to the company. When you’re dealing with a $5 million project, spending a few thousand on something that improves motivation and productivity is a simple decision.
Here’s what I’ve learned from these experiences:
- Government- and industry-led employee benefits are fine, but by nature they’re the same as everybody else.
- The benefits that matter the most are driven by the unique character and values of your company.
- When they become a part of your culture, they’re powerful and hard for competitors to duplicate.
We’ve heard those stories about Silicon Valley companies with ping-pong tables and free lunches. When others try to duplicate it, they often fail to realize this:
It’s not about ping-pong tables. It’s about the culture of the company, and that’s just the physical manifestation. It’s about a culture of creativity, freedom, and fun.
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