Employees now expect more from their chosen workplace and employers need to strike a precise balance between work and wellbeing.

If you're an employer, this cultural revolution has likely come as an added stress to your daily tasks, a footnote in a long list of things to do. 

However, thinking about employee experience and how perks at work can attract and retain employees, makes it all worthwhile. Office culture makes or breaks a job, so here's everything you need to know about creating an engaging workplace.

Who started perks at work?

Let’s face it, 30 years ago, the idea of giving employees a ping pong table and free bar would have been deemed unconventional, maybe a bit edgy. 

Then along came Google. Started by two students at Stanford, the search engine not only redefined the internet but also company culture. They began a workplace revolution that sent tremors throughout the corporate world.

Simply put, they made company culture fun. Larry Page and Sergey Brin broke the office mould when they introduced workplace gyms, health centres, free meals, and nap pods.

In fact, the Googleplex, as it was named, didn’t really seem like a workplace at all, more like a Centre Parcs. And yet, to everyone’s surprise, productivity didn't drop. In fact, it increased. So as Google grew, so too did the idea that a stimulating workplace creates a stimulated workforce (who knew?).

These changes led to 10 years of HR innovation, from ‘flexible working’ to Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP). Everything grew from Google's mantra that “you can be serious without a suit”.

Google offices

5 examples of perks at work in practice

If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are 5 perks at work that your employees will value.

1. Ping pong/pool table

This is a fairly easy one to implement — it’s low cost and high reward. In the recent Great Perk Search, ping pong tables ranked the highest out of all other employee perks and benefits, with those surveyed giving it a score of 95 out of 100.

2. Friday lunch or beer

Turn moments of low productivity into an excuse for some company-wide fun. Friday afternoons are the perfect example. Letting your employees start it a little early with a company lunch, or a few drinks, will not only boost your popularity but help them wind down properly into the weekend. We’re not making this up either — free lunches or drinks ranked in the top 20 perks employees wanted.

3. Company nights out

Nobody's saying colleagues have to be friends, but when they have strong professional and personal relationships, they work better together. So encourage these deeper connections by treating your team to a night out or dinner.

Professional sports teams know that a vital part of team building is having regular socials to help players gel together. Adopting the same principle as a workplace perk can improve teamwork and collaboration both within and across departments.

4. Office activities

The top-ranked perk in the Great Perk Search was extracurricular office activities, like sports teams or book clubs. At first, this seems a little surprising (ranking higher than a free lunch) but take a moment and think back to school, or university. There were plenty of opportunities to explore and expand your interests, all for free.

However, as soon as you enter the workplace this concept of enrichment, usually involves an application or fee. So create a poll or survey to gauge what people want. Running a 5 aside football team, or even a chess club may score big points with employees.

5. A swanky coffee machine or hot tap!

Your employees will spend most of their lives in the office. Some may have very early starts or work the odd bit of overtime and leave late. Either way, they shouldn't have to go out in the cold and rain just because they want a cup of coffee. Hot taps or coffee stations are ideal for organisations who have a lot of staff. Queuing for the kettle is not a great experience for anyone.

Offer the perks at work your employees are craving with Perkbox

Office culture reborn

People work harder in jobs they care about. It sounds ridiculously self-explanatory but if you think about it, you’ll realise how absent it is from employer language.  

There’s often an expectation that salary will overpower enjoyment. But we all know this isn't true. Yes, of course, salary is an important retention factor, but other employee experiences are just as significant. If someone feels undervalued, no amount of money will make them stay. Eventually, they'll just leave and take all that knowledge and experience with them.

Also, making work enjoyable is often nothing to do with what an employee is doing but how they're doing it. If someone sits for hours in front of a screen repeating the same task, without moving, the chances of them enjoying themselves are pretty slim.

As Google showed us — a quick game of ping pong or a swim every few hours doesn’t harm employee productivity but increases it. Moreover, after implementing shorter working days Germany and Sweden reported increases in productivity and a reduction in sick days .  

Swimming in the pool

The principle of recreation in the workplace is similar. It encourages employees to relax at work, as they would do at home. It gives them flexibility in their routine and promotes health and wellbeing.

Our expert guide can help you choose the right engagement platform for your organisation

The benefits of employee perks

There are two main reasons perks in the workplace have such a positive impact. The first requires a little bit of visualisation:

You’ve just walked into an office for an interview. How do you know their culture is a good fit? Sometimes taking in the immediate surroundings can help, granted though this could be difficult if you've been whisked away to an interview room from reception.

At the very least, the person interviewing you should take you on a tour of the office and introduce you to the people you could be working with — even if it's just a fleeting meet and greet and quick summary of the facilities.

From a very business-oriented viewpoint, increased public visibility is a key benefit of having perks at work. Not to mention, highlighting benefits and perks is an effective way of selling a great employee experience.

Perkbox: Inspire your team with perks all year round

Research shows that company culture is integral to recruiting the most talented employees. If you invest time and money into making your workplace an engaging place to be, productivity improves and office turnover reduces. This ultimately saves thousands of pounds in recruitment fees and knowledge gaps.

We think everyone deserves to work somewhere where they feel cared for. This is why we've developed a platform that provides your people with genuinely good perks at work and beyond. Whether it's discount codes for global retailers, free coffees and sausage rolls, or access to mental health specialists — Perkbox sets the standard for a wholesome employee experience, and one that goes beyond the working day.

Find out how Perkbox helps you retain and engage employees with the benefits they love.


Learn how you can give employees the perks they want with Perkbox

Perks at work: your FAQs answered

What is an example of a work perk?

Perks are a way companies show their appreciation. They include savings on the weekly food shop, fun office activities, and complimentary hot drinks. Some perks, however, are more suitable for international workforces, for example, discount schemes with global retailers. Either way, to get an idea of the perks your employees want, hold a survey and ask them.

What perks can I offer my employees?

What are the best job perks?

Support staff during the cost of living crisis with Perkbox

Perkbox helps you support employees when times are tough by stretching their salaries and supporting their wellbeing.

  • Help employees save all year round with access to over 9,000 deals and discounts
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