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Why PERKS More Than ‘Cut It’: A Response to The New York Times

By Alexa Baggio

If you’re still in the camp of thinking—and don’t worry, many people are—that office perks and so-called ‘soft benefits’ are a fad brought on by an entitled wave of millennials, you’re wrong. A recent New York Times article sights ‘belonging’ as the missing ingredient in the employee experience and does all but dismiss benefits from the conversation. This is dangerous wave of thinking – here’s why:

  • New perks are out there: PERKS has seen a 237% increase in overall applications to our annual convention series that showcase innovative services for companies, including ones like Oji Life Labs, Cleo and Givinga to name a few.
  • The stakes are high: 70% of U.S. professionals said they would not work at a top-tier company if it meant dealing with a bad workplace environment.
  • Perks are important to employees: According to Willis Towers Watson, 78% of workers would likely remain with their employer because of the perks it offers—up from 72% in 2016.


Bar none, workplace perks are a full-blown movement, and they aren’t going away anytime soon. Companies can easily (and depending on the perk, inexpensively) tap into companies that can fill experience gaps: perks for stress relief, healthcare transparency, food delivery and more.

I think we all understand that a job comes with routines, expectations, and constraints. But there is a point, in every profession, where more money will not fix or aid in daily struggles. Here’s a story I just learned from [my mom] that demonstrates why perks are so important. After a discussion at dinner, she told me that she would give up $10,000 in salary annually for access to a fitness facility near the office and healthier food options in the cafeteria.

She works at an industrial distribution company with great career development opportunities, frequent salary and title bumps, and great healthcare. But the demands of the job make getting to the gym (due to location and timing of shifts) hard, and eating a clean diet is almost impossible with local chains being 20+ mins away from the office. Imagine if that company decided to invest in perks that address these specific concerns: say, a mobile gym like the one created by Informed Fitness, and a daily healthy meal delivery like the one offered by Euphebe. Not only would those two simple perks address and solve problems that might once have pushed employees out the door, but employees like my family member would also feel listened to and appreciated. Wouldn’t you say that being heard and respected are clear characteristics of an inclusive workplace?

An extra $10,000 a year wouldn’t fix her problems, but perks can. For employees and employers alike, perks can be the tools that drive the creation of a workplace where both a ‘sense of belonging’ and an improvement to workplace productivity, employee retention and business success can happily coexist.

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