Benefits Strategy

Why Perks Don’t Create Company Culture

Written by Maria

Company culture is is a phrase that is often tossed around, but rarely defined. Companies want their workplaces to have it, but don’t know what kind of culture to create, let alone how to create it. Many companies will turn to perks, or employee benefits (part of a broader employee benefit program), as a way of creating this elusive “culture”. Buying snacks, bean bags, and allowing office scooters are some of the common images we see of company culture in tech companies. To some degree, company culture has even earned a bad reputation: companies that emphasize “company culture” do so by creating extremely relaxed work environments, and subsequently unprofessional ones.

This however, is a misconception of what good company culture can be. Company culture is first and foremost about results. When you have the right kind of company culture, employees are happier, healthier, and have respect and trust for their co-workers. There is accountability, and positivity in the workplace. To get these results, companies–incorrectly–tend to emphasize perks; however, what is at the core of company culture should be relationships.

Moreover, perks are temporary, but culture is long-term. Culture starts as early as the job ad, where your prospective employees are learning more about your organization. When thinking about retention, companies should therefore emphasize stable and long-term features of the workplace. Positive relationships with co-workers, and policies that strengthen these relationships, are what outlast the temporary gratification of perks.

Workplace Wellness Programs and Company Culture

This understanding of company culture applies to wellness programs as well. Consider one employer that tried to implement a wellness program. They started by offering in-house group fitness classes. They were startled to find that employees weren’t engaged (because they fell victim to one of these mistakes). The solution was to create positive relationships between employees. The company realized that many employees used social media platforms to communicate with each other. By adding a social media component to their fitness programs, this company was able to drive engagement.

This example reveals that company culture is about

  • Understanding what drives your employees to perform their best
  • Offering tailored wellness (and benefit) solutions to meet employee needs

Maybe your employees deal with a high amount of stress on the job. Sometimes you can’t change that fact; however, by creating a company culture that acknowledges this and then targets employee stress through flex holidays, fitness challenges, or free meditation programs, will empower your employees to face these workplace challenges. Notice that some of these options, like meditation, are still perks. However, they are context-aware perks. Employees will see that you are taking steps to address their concerns and this will give the perks value and meaning.

At IncentFit we work to create fitness challenges that are tailored to employee needs and accessible to all employees. We’ve found that the one-size-fits-all approach employed by wellness companies often ends up being only a perk. Free Fitbits simply don’t address employee needs. By emphasizing company-designed challenges, long-term engagement, and easy implementation we allow employees to see fitness as a part of their company culture, instead of an added perk for show.

Corporate Wellness Benefit Managers having a discussion while looking at an electronic tablet.

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