March 2014
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TD Magazine

The Downside of Perks

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Research shows that some benefits may cause companies to retain low-performing employees.

Perks are a strong tool for recruiting talent in today's highly competitive labor markets—especially young workers. Free food and laundry pickup has been shown to keep workers onsite and feeling pampered, but does it keep them productive?

A recent survey by BlessingWhite shows that perks may cause organizations to retain less productive employees: Disengaged employees are twice as likely to stay because of beneficial job conditions when compared with their engaged colleagues.

"I like the work that I do" is the main reason engaged workers stay with their current employer (38 percent of "engaged" survey respondents listed this as their top reason). The second highest driver of retention for engaged employees is belief in the organization's mission and culture (19 percent). Job conditions, including perks, are much less important: Only 5 percent of engaged employees claimed this as their main reason for staying on the job, underscoring the saying that "The engaged stay for what they can give, the disengaged stay for what they can get."


To a high-performing organization, a sense of purpose is more important than perks. Purpose is found in three things. First, in a clear, compelling corporate mission: It should inspire and motivate employees. Next, in shared values: The organization's values should guide your employees' business practices. Last, in shared accountability: It's important that the entire organization understands what drives your culture and shares responsibility for sustaining it.

Without a clearly defined purpose, an organization is at risk of drifting into a state of low performance. Also, with no regard for culture, an organization can become solely focused on driving results, leading to employee burnout and high turnover—despite the perks it may offer.

About the Author

Kimberly Heyer is a marketing manager at BlessingWhite.

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