Good and Bad BenefitsFree gourmet meals and all the Diet Coke you can drink may describe the cafeteria at some workers’ dream office. After all, what could be wrong with free food? Outstanding office perks can be a vital part of attracting and retaining the most talented employees. Some job seekers may even make job decisions based on the additional benefits companies offer.
The best perks keep employees happy and productive, but only most of the time. Here are some great office perks that can actually pose problems in the office from distractions to outright intoxication. Photo Credit: bernarddd
The Pros of Free BeerIn some offices, a sip of alcohol at work can get you fired and escorted out of the building immediately. But companies with more easygoing atmosphere, like advertising agencies and entertainment companies virtually encourage working under the influence.
At the end of the week, MainStreet reader Joe Brockhaus and his coworkers finish up early and have a beer from a kegerator at the Bluespring Software office in Cincinnati, Ohio.
“The kegerator is something that allows us to bond and relieve work stress at the end of the week,” he explains.
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The Cons of Alcohol in the OfficeOn the other hand, alcohol as a bonding tool and method of creating a more relaxed work environment can get out of control. And if an employer doesn’t pay for a car service home, and after work drinks lead to a drunk driving-related accident, the company could be liable for damages.
Lesly Simmons’s former employer served alcohol and says some people had a tendency to go overboard.
“I once worked in an office where we had drinks almost too often, to the point that it interfered with the work day several times a week,” Simmons says.
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GamesThe height of the dot-com era brought many more foosball tables into office environments, but as companies have come down from internet company highs, many foosball tables go unused or rarely used in the offices of the sites that still remain in business. In addition to the kegerator, Bluespring Software also has a foosball table.
“It can be counterproductive, but there is a hefty stigma associate with it, and it's hard to really spend too much time playing without causing everyone to feel like they're wasting the day,” says Brockhaus.
These days, many companies have Xboxes (Stock Quote: MSFT) or Nintendo Wiis that allow employees to socialize and blow off steam as well. But going from a glowing computer screen to a glowing and busy TV screen could definitely worsen office eyestrain.
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Free FoodOffices often offer free coffee and vending machine snacks, but some large companies offer perks that would make many of us jealous.
For instance, Google employees enjoy free gourmet cafeterias like barbecue beef brisket with a sweet and hot barbecue sauce. On the other hand, junk food and snacks are all too easy to get your hands on there, according to Fortune.com.
“I had one boss who had a genius for creating bad office perks,” says motivational speaker Barry Maher. “She created dissention by scattering candy dishes around an office where most of the employees were trying to diet,” he recalls.
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Organic and FreeFacebook feeds its employees free food as well, and tends to stick to organic and free range fare across a variety of cuisines. And free food, including options like tofu steak with wasabi mashed potatoes, has been an excellent recruiting tool for the company, according to NPR.
Of course, free meals at work tend to keep people at their desks or relatively close to them.
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Child CareSome larger companies understand the difficulty of finding last-minute childcare when you’re stuck in the office later than you planned. That’s why on-site child care is available at Best Buy’s corporate office, among other companies.
And covering daycare doesn’t just benefit employees; employers actually save money by offering it since workers are often asked to chip in to subsidize the programs and they are often willing to take a lower salary simply in exchange for the benefit.
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An Extreme ConciergeHaving a concierge at the office at all is a luxury. You don’t have do book your own restaurant reservations or leave work to find a mailbox or post office. But at advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky, there’s an “extreme concierge” there who can help you with almost everything from bicycle and motorcycle maintenance to fixing a broken high heel, according to ColoradoDaily.com.
Not much of a downside here, except of course if you happen to get into an accident on the bike you had fixed at work.
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Dog-Friendly OfficesThe office housing Procter & Gamble's Pet Care division is a dog-friendly environment, according to Petside.com, and that tends to make workers more relaxed and happy. And some job-seekers search for jobs based on how dog–friendly a company’s office is.
But the downside to that is when you’re an employee who’s severely allergic to dogs. Hopefully P&G (Stock Quote: PG) provides allergy remedies as a perk to those employees.
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Going out of the way to have your clothes dry cleaned or to travel to the Laundromat only to be bored for hours can be a pain, but Google employees can get their dry cleaning done at work. And there are even washers and dryers in the company’s corporate office. That said, there’s something about bringing your dirty laundry to work that just doesn’t seem right. Who really wants to see a colleagues underwear?
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