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Employee Engagement: Myth vs. Truth

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These two words are changing everything: “Employee Engagement”

Bombarded with ideas of what employee engagement means, struggle with how to implement this in our businesses. But many of these ideas are not authentic representations of what’s happening in our offices.

We’re debunking the myths employers often believe about Employee Engagement.

Myth: Higher compensation = higher satisfaction.

80% of workers don’t consider money a factor in engagement. While fancy compensation packages work for some, the majority of employees simply aren’t motivated by money.

Truth: Opportunity for growth is essential to employee engagement.

What does work, however, is when employees have a place to grow and learn. Many employees are disengaged because they lack challenging assignments or don’t see how their position plays into the overall mission and vision of the company. By providing a path to success, employers can motivate their employees through a sense of purpose when they walk through the door every day.

Myth: Employees love trendy workplace policies and perks.

We see perks like work from home policies popping up left and right, but is this really what employees want? Often these employees become victims of “out of sight, out of mind” by the very policy meant to incentivize them.

Truth: Employees want to be heard.

While offering remote working perks is great for some, the root of the issue is that employees want to be heard. With increasing diversity, it’s key that employers take the time to listen and understand the challenges of their workforce, and ensure that everyone feels like part of the team.

Myth: Every manager knows what it takes to engage employees.

The Association for Talent Development states that a “New survey finds that most managers enter the role without formal training.” It’s obvious that employee engagement, like other management skills, involves proper training and development which is simply not a focus in many of our business practices.

Truth: Every manager needs to learn how to engage employees.

There are so many things we think about employee engagement that simply aren’t true. As part of your onboarding practice, managers should learn the keys to employee engagement, starting with knowing the difference between employee engagement and employee happiness. New manager? Start here.

Myth: Non-cash rewards don’t work as well as cash.

Think a $50 bill is better than a pat on the back? Yes, there is a time and a place for putting your money where your mouth is; but, research shows that more and more employees are seeking recognition and rewards above monetary compensation.

Truth: Recognition and rewards improves business results.

Bersin & Associates, through extensive research, proved that employers who implement employee recognition practices produce 12 times more business results than their counterpart. This evidence is huge in not only showing the importance of recognition on employee engagement, but also its impact on the overall success of our business.

Don’t let what you think about employee engagement trump the realities of what your employees want.

The Hidden Challenges of Working Remotely

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A trend emerging in our 21st century workplace: the ability to “WFH”, or Work from Home. There’s nothing better than rolling out of bed, plopping yourself on the couch with your laptop, and getting to work.

Or so…. That’s what we used to think until we heard from employees who actually had the luxury to work remotely. Here’s what we found out.

Remote workers are often lonely.

There is something to be said about going into an office and seeing the same faces everyday. Working from home is often very isolating. There are few people to run your ideas by or even chat about that funny email you just got. In fact, Forbes reports that laughter in the workplace makes employees more productive.

Remote workers have a hard time getting things done.

While not only isolating, contrary to popular belief, it’s also hard to be productive when working remotely. When you collaborate on a project or try to solve an issue quickly, remote work presents new challenges. What is usually solved by turning around in your chair, might take over a day without that luxury. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. For technical writers, developers and the like, working alone is necessary to get into an intense focus mode this type of work often requires.

Remote workers are not necessarily more engaged.

For many businesses, offering flex time is a luxury provided in hopes of increasing employee engagement and retaining excellent employees. However, what often happens is that these employees, especially those who are full-time remote workers, fall into the “out of sight, out of mind” philosophy. For many, they feel forgotten by their employer who previously may have been a great mentor and resource to them. They miss out on these resources by simply not physically being around.

While there are clear benefits to offering flex time for employees, it’s also evident there are new challenges arising with this popular perk.

Does your business offer a work from home policy? What challenges or benefits have you seen with this implementation?

Are Perks and Benefits the Same Thing?

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We love perks so much we named our company after them.

But what are perks and how are they different than benefits when it comes to the workplace?

Benefits

Benefits are supplemental to salary and cover basic needs like health insurance, 401K plans, etc. While benefits are absolutely essential for companies, they also come at a price. Most benefits offered to employees cost the company something, unlike our favorite counterpart, the perk, which costs little to nothing for employers to implement.

Perks

Perks encompass everything from bike racks and lounge areas in the office to catered lunches and oh yeah, exclusive discounts on your favorite brands. While benefits are often costly, perks can be offered at a relatively low cost to employers but offer extreme value to employees. Offering perks alongside necessary benefits and compensation packages creates a powerful force when it comes to ensuring employees stay engaged and motivated in their offices. However, like all things, just making these perks available in and of itself is not enough to sustain and retain employees. As more and more businesses begin offering these incentive programs, competition increases when it comes to recruitment and retention. While nearly unheard of 20 years ago, workplace perks are more and more becoming the norm. Companies like Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, and other PerkSpot clients realize this, and that’s why offering perks are non-negotiable.

All Perks are Not Created Equal

So now the question is no longer, will we offer a perks program, but which program will we choose? Overwhelmingly, employees today request perks that improve their everyday lives, such as free gym memberships or discounts on everyday expenses such as groceries and cell phone plans. These programs are more likely to resonate with employees because they show that the employer is listening. It reaches the heart of what all employees truly desire: to be heard and understood. PerkSpot’s mission is to make that a little easier for employers. We negotiate the discounts so you don’t have to. We provide the tools to communicate with employees on how to use the platform, where to find the discounts, and even deliver the latest and greatest perks right to their inbox.

Want to learn more? Reach out to us at sales@perkspot.com

Don’t just offer perks. Offer the right ones.

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The Illusion of Busyness

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“I’m so swamped”
“Just trying to keep my head above water”

You may have uttered one of these phrases at some point this month, week or even just a few hours ago. But is it busyness that has us feeling overwhelmed or, like a mirage in the desert, is it merely an illusion?

Technology has advanced at such a rapid pace I wonder if we are really as busy as think or if we simply have an unhealthy relationship with time. In fact, I think deep down some of us like saying these phrases as if they somehow make us feel important or purposeful. Multi-tasking is no longer a skill that only the most successful possess, but something that inundates the ins and outs of our everyday lives. But while we may get things done when we multitask, we often neglect to do things well.  We find ourselves running around from one task to another all for the sake of feeling “busy”, but never really accomplishing anything. Priorities are out of line and our work begins to suffer.

So how do we dispel the illusion of busyness in our lives? Is it even possible?

First of all, breathe. I think many of us grab our coffee and sit in front of our inbox dreading the day to come. When we let the weight of our tasks overwhelm us, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. Take a breath in the morning and spend time planning out your day. Prioritize tasks based on their importance and deadline. With a clear vision in front of us, the work will seem less monumental and more manageable.

Secondly, do something that you’re passionate about. We spend a lot of time just going through the motions of our days without focusing on the things that truly make us happy. If you’re truly passionate about your work (and I hope that you are!), spend time developing a new skill, read an educational book, or attend a seminar. These activities will renew your passion and keep you moving forward. If your passion lies outside your nine-to-five, jump into a cooking class, take photography lessons, or just spend time with your friends and family. Prioritizing our passions can refresh us and more importantly, give us purpose beyond our full agenda.

Remove the word “busy” from your vocabulary and start prioritizing. At the end of the day, you may not respond to every email in your inbox, but that doesn’t mean you weren’t productive.

Technology and the Office: Not Just for Silicon Valley

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When we think of company culture, words like “employee engagement”, “recognition” and “opportunity for growth” come to mind. But where does Technology rank when it comes to our values as an organization or company, and how is this affecting our employees?

As the CHRO of cloud-based finance and HR software Workday, Ashley Goldsmith, eloquently states, “We’ve found that you can’t create a culture just through values, new processes, or an organizational restructure. Those things are necessary, but we like to think of values as the beating heart of culture, processes and organizational structure as the brain, and technology as the nervous system that makes sure heart and head are working together to move us forward.”

Technology improves communication flow.

Cloud-based systems, video-conferencing software, and the like are paving the way for smoother communication in the workplace. The bonus is that many of these applications have free versions available. These tools enable employees to work smarter, not harder.

Technology fosters feedback.

Similar to improving communication, we use technology at PerkSpot to develop more ways to generate feedback, both internally and externally. We use platforms that allow our employees to respond to customer service issues quickly and efficiently. Meanwhile, internally, we use a system to monitor everything from typos on our site to larger kinks that need attention. In this way, we spend less time dealing with issues and more time finding solutions.

Technology encourages collaboration.

Messaging applications are great for encouraging collaboration amongst employees. While many feel that this constant communication decreases productivity, studies show that even when coworkers drift away from the task at hand, laughter shared helps promote creativity and innovation.

In the same way that the body cannot function properly without the nervous system, our offices cannot survive without technology.

What are some ways you use technology in your workplace? Leave us a note in the comments!

Introducing the “Pre-Cation”

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In the land of start-ups a new trend is emerging called the “Pre-cation”.

If you’ve ever interviewed for a job, chances are one of the questions you were asked throughout the process was, “how soon can you start?”. Most of us jump right in after the obligatory two-weeks notice in our former roles just to fall into the same old trap of limited vacation days and fears of what will happen if we actually do decide to leave the office for a few days.

As a way of dispelling these fears companies like Atlassian, have taken a fresh approach by offering new hires paid time off before they even work their first day. As they put it,  “This is all in the spirit of our “Build with Heart and Balance” value, in which we encourage all new teammates to start refreshed, recharged, and revitalized so they can bring their A-game when they start work.” Especially if you’ve left a job that was frustrating and draining, this little break could be exactly what you need to start off on the right foot in a new role.

It’s no secret that we struggle to find that perfect balance between work ethic and being a workaholic. By rewarding employees before they even start, the “pre-cation” helps to ensure new they leave the stress behind and start fresh. And what’s more is that by eliminating stress, retention levels are higher which can actually save employers funds they would have otherwise spent on recruitment and development.

Of course, the “pre-cation” is not without its faults. Starting a new job can be stressful in-and-of itself, so many people may find they are unable to relax and clear their minds before jumping into their new position. Not to mention, someone is paying for this time off. Unless you’ve come into a huge round of funding or already manage a very successful business, most companies cannot afford the luxury of giving employees this time off. Many of us are hiring to fill a void and therefore simply cannot afford to wait.

While flexible time-off policies may be trending, it seems the “pre-cation” notion may take some getting used to.

The good news is that you don’t have to offer your employees a “pre-cation” to be a great employer. Start by offering your employees exclusive perks through PerkSpot.

Team Building Activities Just in Time for Summer!

The sun beams down warming your face through the window. You can smell the fresh air peeking through as you take a sip of your iced tea, relaxing in your chair. Your eyes wander and your mind is clear. Summer is here.

But, unfortunately, this isn’t you on a tropical vacation. This is the distraction of summer making its way into your office. As the temps warm up, our minds tend to dream of greener pastures.

Don’t fight the feeling: take your work and your team outside and engage in some fun team-building activities.

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Fox Business states, “When the global marketing firm McCann WorldGroup surveyed 7,000 Millennials in 2011, it found more than 90% of those surveyed rated “connection and community” as their greatest need.”

I know what you’re thinking, but we aren’t talking about blindfolding someone and leading them through a maze or practicing trust falls. These age-old activities are outdated and more likely to make your team groan. True team-building happens when you have fun, laugh and share an experience together.

Here’s a few ways to build up your team this summer:

Give Back

Take some time this summer to give back. Encourage employees or coworkers to volunteer in the community. Find ways to give back at volunteermatch.org or catchafire.org. In fact, when employees spend their time on other people, they often feel like they have more time to spare!

Ready, Set, Sports

There are many ways to use sports to bring your team together. Grab your colleagues and join a city league. David W. Ballard of the American Psychological Association says this of teams who practice physical activities together, “Employees have lost weight and report a higher awareness of wellness issues, strengthened sense of community, improved morale, and increased motivation.”  For the observers, check out a baseball game or cheer on your company athletes as they go for the gold.

Strap On Your Fanny Packs

Summer is the perfect time to explore your city. Visit famous monuments, tour a museum or hop on a Segway tour. You’ll create memories and learn something along the way.

Learn Something New

For many offices, summer is a slow season. Take the opportunity to learn something new together through professional development courses or attending a conference. This will leave your team rejuvenated and impassioned upon returning to work.

Save money on your next office adventure with exclusive tickets, entertainment and even local discounts through PerkSpot!

Does This Office Make Me Look Fat?

We spend a lot of time with our coworkers. For better or worse, we pick up their habits. Which means, the office could be the demise of our well-intentioned diet plans.

Stay slim with these tips, even in a candy-bar filled office.

Eat breakfast before you get to work.

We get it. It’s early. You’ve snoozed five times. The last thing you want to do is make breakfast. However, everyone knows breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You’re less likely to eat once you leave the house and start on your endless inbox, so instead of grabbing a protein bar at work, make some quick overnight oats, or the oh-so-trendy avocado toast.

Make time for meals.

Ok, workaholics here’s looking at you. We know, those 30 minutes at lunch are precious moments where you can wrap up that email or send off that report. Don’t compromise on meal time. Make sure you take time to eat lunch so you’ll come back to your desk refreshed, re-energized, and focused.

Don’t forget the H20.

None of us drink enough water. It’s easy to forget to fill up on H2O between coffee cups, but instead of sipping on that third cup of coffee at 10am, reach for your water bottle. And for the truly unmotivated, try this clever Pinterest hack to stay on top of your water game.

Snack time is the best time.

Snacks are what make or break you when it comes to your diet. Make sure you pack healthy snacks to keep you satisfied between meals, such as almonds, yogurt, or fruit.
office is where we go to diet

Show your employees you’re dedicated to their personal wellness by offering exclusive discounts through PerkSpot! From gym memberships to restaurant gift cards, there is something for everyone. 
Contact us to find out how!

Thursdays are the New Fridays

It’s no secret that the workplace has changed dramatically in the last 50 years. There are 53% more women in the workforce, The Family and Medical Leave Act allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid protected leave, and minimum wage has increased dramatically. It’s pretty amazing to see the progress we’ve made, but there’s one change that’s yet to make its way to the U.S.: The Four Day workweek.

In many European countries, four-day workweeks are the rule, not the exception. The Netherlands boast average annual wages of $47,000 and average only 29 hours of work per week. But for many companies in the U.S., the trend remains that working longer hours means an increase in productivity. But what if this isn’t the case? Whatever happened to “less is more”? Can this apply to our workplace?

four day work week perkspot culture thursdays are the new fridays

No Time to Waste

Let’s be honest, there are plenty of times we procrastinate on projects or reschedule meetings until the last possible minute. With shorter workweeks, employers have found that there is less time to waste, so workers are more likely to remain focused and motivated. And for those who still need those 40 hours, some businesses have incorporated the four-day workweek by simply working longer hours during these four days. Workers then have the weekend to catch up on errands, spend time with loved ones, and get refreshed for the next week.

Thinking About Making a Switch?

Keep in mind these “Dos and Don’ts” for a successful transition.

Don’t: Make it a seasonal thing.

Some companies tend to offer shorter, summer hours, which is a great start, but often employees start resenting those days when they have to stay until five instead of leaving at three, or whatever the case may be.

Do: Make it a regular thing.

Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall – you wouldn’t require your employees to work only one part of the year, so why shorten their hours only during summer? To increase motivation year-round many companies start by offering a shorter workweek even in the winter months.

Don’t: Go all in.

Incorporating the four-day workweek means a huge change in the office, so make sure you think before you leap. Don’t make the change overnight but give your employees time to adjust.

Do: Take baby steps.

When it comes to big changes at the office, it’s best to take baby steps. For example, some employers start by having early release on Fridays instead of jumping right into the four-day workweek. They then examine productivity and employee engagement levels to ensure the plan is right for their office environment.

Don’t: Stay silent.

You may know the famous quote “Where there is no vision, there is no hope”. Don’t just make the change without stating the whys, whos, and hows.

Do: Provide clarity on the “fifth day”.

Are employees expected to be available on the fifth day? What extra work does this require for the other four days? It’s important to think through all the questions employees may have and provide clarity before incorporating this new policy. There’s nothing more frustrating than walking in the dark, so if you’re thinking about making the switch, be sure to shed light on the new changes.

Keep Employees Happy

One of the challenges many human resources departments face is keeping employees happy and engaged. Training new talent is expensive and time-consuming, so when focusing on employee retention, many companies are beginning to consider the four-day workweek. For companies that cannot afford raises or other employee benefits, this can be a great perk to offer employees who have been loyal to the company.

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Be a Better Leader

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Many of us have an innate desire to inspire others like Martin Luther King, Jr., change the world like Bill Gates, or save lives like Marie Curie. But before they became these great world-changers, they all lived very ordinary lives. There are traits each of us can develop in our everyday lives to be a better leader and inspire those around us.

Practice humility.

Humility is a lost art in our culture. We are quick to seek recognition and put our own needs before others. But great leaders start by first serving the people around them. Ask yourself how you can better serve your team. Be transparent and apologize when you make mistakes. Demonstrate a willingness to learn – a teachable attitude goes a long way.

Stay positive.

This can be particularly tough even in the greatest of work environments. The stress of work and home often cause us to focus on the negative. Try starting your day by writing down three things you’re grateful for. This positive attitude will carry you throughout your day and others will be inspired by your optimism. And when issues arise, focus on finding the solution instead of the problem.

better leader perkspot culture

Be yourself.

Having a boss or colleague who is “all business, all the time” gets stale very quickly. Take time to get to know your teammates and share personal anecdotes. Invite them to watch the game or workout together. You don’t have to unload your whole life story, but letting them in is a great way to show you care and you’re interested. They’ll appreciate your vulnerability and respect you more for it.

Challenge the status-quo.

One thing all great leaders have in common is that they push the limits. Don’t be afraid to speak up when you think things (or people) can be better. Great friends and great coworkers challenge each other to think deeper and go farther.

Have tips for being a better leader? Let us know in the comments!