We love birthdays at PerkSpot. Maybe it’s because we genuinely love the people we work with and want to celebrate them … or maybe it’s the free donuts. If you’re looking for ways to celebrate your coworkers on their birthdays, we’ve got just the thing for you.

fun ideas for work birthdays

Here are 5 fun ideas for work birthdays:

Sweet Treats

Did we mention that we love donuts??? A classic PerkSpot celebration will always include these sweet treats the morning of the honoree’s birthday. If you work in a smaller office this is a great and simple way to show your appreciation for your employee. And since 66% of employees said they would leave a job if they felt unappreciated, this is no small gesture.

Decorate Their Workspace

Crepe paper streamers and colorful balloons can make any space feel like a party. If you lead the charge for work culture, purchase a few supplies for every team at the beginning of the year with a list of their team members’ birthdays. By delegating, you don’t have to spend every day decorating and you’ll give each team an opportunity to give back to their coworker in a meaningful way.

Send Them Something Special

Wouldn’t it be great if you could give every employee a raise or a bonus on their birthday? For most businesses, that is simply not a reality. But, you can send them something monetary that is both meaningful and timely. PerkSpot’s Rewards and Recognition Program enables clients to send credits to employees for birthdays and anniversaries (or just because) that they can spend on the gift card of their choice. With over 200 brands to choose from, you don’t have to guess at what your employee wants or needs, and can send these credits along with a meaningful note.

Give Them The Day Off

While only 84% of employees actually get paid time off, 32% of them are actually afraid to use it. Give them the day off to spend with friends, family, or just relaxing at home. This is a great way to show your employees that you see how hard they work and know that they deserve a break. They’ll come back refreshed and energized with a new appreciation for where they work.

Make It Personal

Remember the days when people would actually write in birthday cards? Take it old-school and write a special note to the employee, or have your CEO or an executive write one. Spend 5 minutes to think about your employee and their contribution. You’ll be reminded of what a great workforce you have and they’ll be rewarded with lots of fuzzy feelings.

Do you celebrate birthdays at your office? Tell us your method in the comments or share it on Facebook!

We all want to keep our top talent. We want to see our companies thrive and grow while rewarding and incentivizing the right people to stay.

But sometimes this simple goal is not that easy to accomplish.

In fact, if you’ve done one of these five things this week, you could be costing your company valuable talent:

5-things-not-to-do-for-employee-retention
Here are five things not to do for employee retention:

Balanced Recognition

It’s easy to recognize the loud, outspoken extroverts for their achievements because they pretty much make themselves known. Although many of these employees may be very deserving of the recognition, introverts are also equally deserving, and in many ways require even more acknowledgement of their success in the workplace. Peer to peer recognition is a great way to help these quiet performers feel valued in the workplace. So the next time you hear someone saying great things about one of these employees, make sure they also say it to their face.

Empty Promises

A sure-fire way to annoy your employees is to promise something and not deliver. This could be as simple as “I’ll set up a meeting to discuss” and not following through. Consistently promising things and not delivering will leave your employees disappointed and will cause them to lose trust in your management or organization. Understanding that things happen, make sure you’re communicating clearly when plans change or you don’t have an answer in the time frame you expected. And, of course, make sure you’re not promising too many things you can’t deliver on in the first place.

Unrealistic or Inaccurate Expectations

Maybe this week an employee completed a project that was NOTHING like you wanted or expected. Again, constant and clear communication is vital to making sure you’re both understanding what is expected for your employee’s role. Make sure if they aren’t delivering, you speak to them and figure out where the misunderstanding happened. Approach the situation with an open mind, being willing to hear their perspective and figure out how you can improve. Of course, if this happens repeatedly, it may be time to evaluate their performance overall.

Unspoken Apologies

We’re all human. Including managers. If you realize you have fallen short for your employee this week, find a way to make it right. This could mean not carving out enough time to chat with them about an issue they were having, responding negatively to a certain situation, or not communicating expectations properly. If you screw up, own it, and make it right before your employee begins to harbor bitterness and resentment.

Constructive Criticism

Did you find a way to challenge your employees this week? One of the greatest ways to improve employee retention is to consistently provide feedback on their performance and make sure they are being challenged. Needless to say, not every week is going to be challenging. We all have weeks when we have to focus on the mundane, but necessary tasks at hand. However, if this is becoming the norm for your employee, you can believe that they won’t stick around for long. Give feedback, push them harder, and make sure they are doing work that challenges them in the right ways.

Which of these did you do this week? What will you strive to do better in the future?

Managing Up

This summer, we’ve held weekly “Lunch and Learns” with our interns where one of our executives chats with us about their career journey: their current role, their past mistakes and everything in-between.

Yesterday, our VP of Sales shared some great advice about “Managing Up”. He spoke to the importance of aligning your projects with your manager’s goals. No matter if you’re an intern, a Human Resources Manager or a VP of Sales, this advice rings true for all of us.

managing up perkspot culture

Let’s unpack what “Managing Up” looks like:

Know Your Mission and Values

A great way to know if your goals are aligned with your manager’s goals is taking a step back and focusing on your company’s mission and values. Examine if your priorities reflect your business objectives. If it’s not, it might be time to re-evaluate.

Your Manager is a Person, Too

Sometimes it can be easy to think that your boss is a cog in the machine. But your manager is a real person with real life stressors and emotions. By understanding even a small portion of how they tick, what’s happening in their personal lives, or even their educational or professional background, you’re more likely to develop a positive working relationship.

Know Their Goals, Anticipate Their Needs

This is both spoken and unspoken. Ask your manager what their priorities are for the next month, 3 months or 6 months. Make sure your goals are aligned with what they’re trying to accomplish and touch base to see how you might be able to problem-solve or push past obstacles that are standing in their way. This is a great way to take ownership, prove your dedication and show your initiative.

Teach Them How to Manage You

Your manager will never know your hopes and dreams unless you tell them. Dying to work on that project? Tell them where you can add value. They’ll be thrilled to have someone fill in gaps and work on tasks they may not have time to do. You’ll get the experience you’re looking for all while adding value and marking things off your boss’s to-do list. Win-win.

Whether your boss is amazing or a textbook micro-manager, “Managing Up” can do wonders for your career and help you maintain a great working relationship as a direct report.

Is your office “perky”? In 2018, it can be hard to stay competitive when it comes to perks. Beer on tap, pet-friendly offices, and travel stipends are among some of the great perks companies are offering these days. Here’s a look at some of the most unconventional office perks we’re seeing in 2018:

uncoventional-office-perks

Free Ice Cream!!!

Need we really say more? Ben & Jerry’s employees can take home up to 3 pints of ice cream PER DAY. This sugar rush might be the best way to beat the afternoon slump.

Egg Freezing

You read that correctly. Spotify gives its employees $10,000 worth of egg freezing. Considering the U.S. still doesn’t even have a mandate for providing paid maternity leave, this is pretty amazing.

Bereavement Benefits

Not a benefit we love to think about, but powerful nonetheless. Google gives the surviving spouse or partner of a deceased employee 50 percent of his or her salary for the following 10 years after his or her death.

Gender Reassignment Surgery

Perhaps the most shocking part of this perk is the company that provides it: Goldman Sachs. You may think that this financial mogul wouldn’t be this progressive, but they’re proving us wrong.

Co-Presidents

At the Nerdery, they take job equality very seriously. They award each employee with a secondary job title as “Co-President”. This perk is to show that every employee’s opinion matters; in a way, everyone is co-president.

What are some unusual perks you’ve seen or offer to your employees? Looking for a new addition to your perks program? Consider offering an employee discount program. We know a great place to start.

2018 is one of those unfortunate years where Independence Day falls on a Wednesday. Is there anything sadder? While most of us stayed local to enjoy the fireworks in our own neighborhood, here are some reasons why you might want to consider finally using your PTO in 2018.

pto in 2018

Project Time Off has some shocking statistics on the State of American Vacation in 2018.

52% of Americans left vacation days unused in 2017, resulting in over $255 billion lost in total spending.

The good news? This number is up from 54% in 2016, which is estimated to produce 217,200 jobs and boost the American economy by $30.7 billion. It’s great to see this number going up and there are many ways we can still improve.

24% of Americans haven’t taken a vacation in over a year.

Many employees don’t take time off because they fear the impact this has on their appearance at work – 61% saying they would appear less dedicated or replaceable. Others feel their workload is too heavy (57%) or that no one else could do their job while they’re out (56%).

While 84% of employees believe it’s important to use vacation days to travel, only 47% actually do so.

While more employees are taking a vacation compared to 2016, this might not necessarily mean they’re taking time to truly disconnect and recharge. Employees who travel report a higher chance of receiving a raise, bonus or both compared to those who don’t (86% compared to 81%).

How can you encourage employees to take advantage of their PTO?

1. Set an example.
We have a very flexible PTO policy here at PerkSpot. There is no limit to the number of days as long as you get proper approvals. While many offices have reported the idea of “unlimited” vacation days unsuccessful, it works for us. Employees are often seen roaming the streets of Cancun or spending time away with family. The reason it works for us is that it starts from the top down. Our CEO recently went away to recharge in the mountains of North Carolina. By setting an example for all of us on the importance of getting time away, we all feel more comfortable and empowered when it comes to taking the time ourselves.

2. Create a backup plan.
We are a small team at PerkSpot. With less than 40 employees, it can be hard to get away and not feel like you’re leaving a hole in your team. Recently, however, we’ve been finding ways to cross-train within our departments so everyone can have the freedom to truly get away and unplug. This has huge benefits not only to using PTO but also protects our office in the case of emergency or when an employee might decide to move on.

3. Make it part of your culture.
PerkSpotters love to travel and are constantly sharing photos of their recent adventures. It’s a fun way to encourage employees to get out and see the world. By embracing this shared interest and pushing others to pursue these opportunities, we’ve fostered a culture that values time off and flexibility.

These are just a few ways you can encourage employees to take PTO. Whatever you do, make sure you’re empowering employees to take time to recharge. Your bottom line will thank you.

One of the best things we’ve done this year as a company is to bring our core values into the forefront of everything we do. As we seek to build our employer brand and focus on recruitment, these company values have become an integral part of our daily lives.

core values employer brand company values recruitment

In many ways, core values are how we present ourselves to the outside world.

Here’s why they matter for your employer brand:

They foster employee advocacy.

In a Gallup report, 41% of employees said they don’t know what their companies stand for and what makes their brand different from their competitors. Creating core values is crucial to bridging the gap between the day-to-day grind and the overall purpose and mission behind what you do. If you’re just starting to identify your core values, try polling your employees on what drives them to come to work everyday. You should notice some common themes. We asked PerkSpotters to come up with one word to describe PerkSpot and overwhelmingly heard “fun”. Today, “We Have Fun” is one of our values we live by, and it’s doesn’t hurt our recruitment efforts either!

They strengthen consistency.

When the whole company is aligned on the same values, it makes consistency easy. One of the values that drives us and holds us accountable is that “We Aim High”. Think about how your core values align with specific tasks. For us, this means asking different questions: Does this project represent aiming high? Are we aiming high in our team meetings or priorities? By building consistency through core values, outsiders will gain a sense of what your company is about and want to be a part of what you’re doing.

They cultivate a competitive edge.

You might not be the only company who does what you do. But, your company values should represent what sets you apart. We’ve all heard the story of how PerkSpot founder, Chris Hill, started this business in his apartment, eating ramen noodles everyday. While we’re grateful for our growth and success, “We Stay Humble” remains a core value in our business today. Make sure visitors can sense what you’re about right when they walk through the door. Make your values unique to your business and evidence of how you’re different than the competition.

They create a sense of humanity.

Core values, if done well, bring your business to life. They should go beyond just a catch phrase or a slogan painted on your walls. Our values all start with “We”, with our last value being “We Value People”. So much of what we do is centered our the people-element of our business. Who is your business serving? How are you making a difference in the lives of others? Remember who you serve and bring that humanity into your core values.

How does your company use core values to build your employer brand? What are some ways you live out these values in your day-to-day?

We talk a lot about compensation and how gender plays a role. It’s become even more evident that the gender pay gap is real, meaning that women often earn only 90% of what men earn with the same experience, or in many cases even less.

But before compensation discussions usually come performance reviews, and gender bias is creeping in here as well.

gender bias in performance reviews
A recent study showed that women were 1.4 times more likely to receive critical feedback than men. The study goes on to say that in many instances there is a double standard for men and women:

In one review I read, the manager noted, “Heidi seems to shrink when she’s around others, and especially around clients, she needs to be more self-confident.” But a similar problem — confidence in working with clients — was given a positive spin when a man was struggling with it: “Jim needs to develop his natural ability to work with people.”

While the nuances of the language may seem insignificant, these small differences can affect employees in a major way when it comes to promotions and pay raises (someone who lacks self-confidence vs. a natural ability to work with people).

So how do you make sure biases aren’t coming into play in performance reviews?
Here are three easy suggestions for keeping your management in check.

Ask specific questions.

By removing the ambiguity of open-ended questions, you’re allowing less room for subjective answers. Provide multiple-choice opportunities that allow one to gauge the overall performance of an employee.
An example might be: “If Angela was given the opportunity to spearhead a new project, how confident would you feel in her ability to handle the task?

  • Very confident: she requires little supervision and always exceeds expectations.
  • Confident: She excels at new projects with a little guidance.
  • Not confident: She would need lots of supervision and support.

By providing answers without the subjectivity of an open-ended response, you can evaluate all employees fairly.

Align feedback with goals.

Another finding from the study was that women are more likely to receive vague feedback about their performance than men.

For example, such feedback might be, “Stephanie, your replies to partners about client matters are often not on point” rather than “Stephanie, you have missed important opportunities to provide clear and concise information, such as X. I have some thoughts on how you could prevent that from happening again, such as Y.”

An easy solution to this is to align your feedback for employees with company goals and objectives. Instead of “You exceeded our expectations this year!”, talk about the how and why. “You exceeded our expectations this year by increasing your sales by 25%. In the future, we’d like to see you improve your retention rate by 10%”. By aligning company goals with your feedback, they will have actionable ways to improve in the future and measure their success.

Expand the review process.

Bring more people into the review process to get a 360-degree view of the employee. Have men and women from inside and outside the department assess their performance to eliminate the chance of gender bias. An example could be bringing in a CMO to review an account manager because they have previously worked together on a case study. Make sure you’re choosing reviewers who have worked with the employee enough to make accurate judgments. Also, keep in mind that this isn’t fool-proof. This should be used in conjunction with specific questions and goal alignment.

Gender bias creeps into many aspects of the workplace, but by using these three methods, you can eliminate the opportunity for them to affect your performance reviews.

As today’s world becomes more and more interconnected, working from home and hiring remote workers has become part of almost every office life. As you seek to find workers who can provide value, even from a distance, our recruitment strategies also need to evolve with the ever-changing workforce. When recruiting for remote workers, here’s what to look for:

recruiting for remote workers

Where are they?

EVERYWHERE. The tricky thing about remote workers is that they aren’t limited to the local area so it can often be harder to mine through candidates. Start with your website and blog. These will be people who are already obsessed with your company and would be happy to apply or recommend someone that would be a great fit. You can also try sites like FlexJobs or WeWorkRemotely.com that provide listings just for remote opportunities.

Who are they?

There is a big difference between someone who likes the idea of working in their pajamas, than a worker to thrives in a quiet, private environment. Look for workers who prove they have what it takes to handle the unique challenges they’ll face from working remotely. Ask them about past experiences where they have been productive working alone or collaborating across offices. Forbes says you should ask these candidates two questions:

  • Tell me about a time you’ve made an important decision without the help of a supervisor or boss?
  • Could you tell me about a time you got tough feedback from a boss?

These questions provide great insight into how they problem solve and can handle feedback when they don’t have the luxury of meeting face to face.

What do they want?

It’s obviously important to know what you’re looking for, but it’s also super important to keep in mind what these employees want. Fast Company has a great article that explains what most remote workers need from their bosses. Think: advanced technology, open door policies, and of course, great communication skills. When you’re recruiting or interviewing remote candidates, be sure to talk about your communication structure and process. Highlight expectations and focus on how they’ll be supported to meet these goals.

How do we get them?

You’ve found your perfect remote employee, but now it’s time to let them know why they should choose your company. While they won’t be in office to access the free snacks or comfy lounge chairs, there are awesome perks you can provide to workers near and far. Did someone say Employee Discount Programs? Obviously, we’re a little bias, but PerkSpot is a great recruitment and retention tool for employees scattered all over the U.S.. We even offer a plethora of local discounts so they can find deals right in their own neighborhood! Other ideas for perks could be ample time-off, sabbaticals, or an annual stipend for continuing education.

Finding great remote workers can be difficult, but with these tips, you’ll be staffing up in no time!

Employee engagement has become far more than just a buzzword. It’s a way of life at most of our offices today. We provide fancy coffee, lounge areas, and beer on tap, all for the sake of keeping our employees happy.

work that matters

But what if in all the noise we’re losing sight of what’s important? Employees doing work that matters. Work that matters to them and to the company.

Focus on Transparency and Communication

Provide a community of support for your employees and make sure they have a safe space to make their wishes known. When you conduct performance and goal reviews, make sure you’re asking employees about their happiness. In fact, according to Gallup, 86% of employees find their performance reviews uninspiring. Ask your employees how much time they spend on tasks they love. How much time is spent on things that really aren’t important or could be done more efficiently? These simple questions can make all the difference to a struggling worker. Employees who find a sense of community and an open space for communication are more likely to be happy and more engaged.

Focus on Mission

At PerkSpot, our mission is to inspire employees everywhere to love where they work by providing meaningful savings and recognition to their workplace. When we send emails or write proposals, we might not be thinking about this mission at hand, but each and every move we make gets us closer to this end goal. We took some time this year to think through how each department encompasses this mission and the various ways we achieve our company goal. Each person, from interns to the CEO, had an opportunity to participate and see how their work matters for the business.

Focus on Culture

After we’ve identified strengths and passions of our employees and tied them to our company mission, then it’s time to look at culture. What are the ways we can foster an environment that lends itself to engagement? Are you providing opportunities for employees to develop meaningful relationships? Do they trust their colleagues or is there a weak link? Making changes can go a long way in making your employees feel heard and valued, and in turn, trusting that their work matters.

Keep your focus in the right place to ensure your employees are doing work that matters.

Professional development plans can make a huge difference when it comes to retention and engagement for your employees. If your company hasn’t invested time in creating plans for each of your employees, stop what you’re doing and make this a priority.

development plans that work
Here are our steps for creating and implementing a meaningful professional development plan for your employees.

Where Do You See Your Business Going in the Next Year?

It makes sense to start with this question because if your employees’ goals aren’t aligned with the business’s, it’s a recipe for disaster. Consider all the objectives you want to accomplish in the next year and how each department fits into these goals. Determine what skills, knowledge or competencies your employees need to obtain to support where your business is headed. By spending time on developing your current employees, you’ll save valuable resources on recruiting and onboarding.

What Do Your Employees Want?

The next step is to consider what your employees want. It’s important to remember that just because an employee is great at X project or skill doesn’t always mean they love working in that particular area. Take time to chat through areas they want to grow and improve and items they would rather not be working on. Providing an open space for vulnerability will go a long way. You may discover they have interest in an area you were looking to expand. This is a great opportunity to explore what that might look like.

What Do Your Employees Need?

Just as you ask them to explore their interests, also ask them to share resources or knowledge they might need to make this possible. Many people may be afraid to speak up (we’re talking about you, introverts) and discuss areas where they are feeling overworked or lack support. Think through how this aligns with your business goals and objectives. Additional training for existing employees may outweigh the costs of recruiting and hiring someone from the outside. Since they know your business well, they may be able to add more value than an outside hire.

How Do Their Desires Align With Your Business Objectives?

You know where you want to take your business. You know what your employees want and need. Now it’s time to put goals in place that satisfy both of these objectives. Of course, your customer service rep may want to learn graphic design, but it doesn’t make good business sense. You can’t always bend over backwards to satisfy these hopes and dreams, but you can listen and give good feedback, especially if you find your employees in need of some motivation. Set goals in place that will provide a development for your employees that make sense. Use SMART goals to make sure they are measurable and can be easily evaluated in their next review.