By now, the perks available to employees at Silicon Valley’s hottest startups and established tech giants are the stuff of legend. Google staffers can enjoy their breaks either by eating a free gourmet lunch in the commissary or by receiving a relaxing massage from one of the company’s in-house masseurs. YouTube employees can walk down the stairs to their next meeting or they could take a ride on the story-high slide instead. And if a Twitter programmer doesn’t want to spend all day in the office, they can simply take their laptop to the rooftop garden and work on a couch.
There are several reasons why today’s tech companies go to such lengths to please their staffs. For one, they want to ensure that every employee’s needs are met so that they can focus solely on their work. Still, it would be difficult to qualify a gigantic slide as a “need” in even the most out-there of offices. But these outrageous items also play an instrumental marketing role by communicating the freewheeling identities of today’s tech companies. By broadcasting their quirks, companies can transmit a youthful and spontaneous image to the public rather than appear like cold, uncaring data crunchers. That’s why Google has its own YouTube page where employees upload footage of the antics that take place in their playground of an office: it’s all about branding.
Well, maybe it’s not all about branding; recruiting plays a major role, too. Drawing in top-flight employees can be difficult considering Silicon Valley’s surplus of startups and the relatively small pool of qualified candidates. Up-and-coming companies need to show that they have a vibrant culture to match their innovative ideas if they want to catch the attention of potential employees and, perhaps even more importantly, investors. So as all tech startups become more and more over the top, the question comes back to whether or not any of this stuff actually makes employees more efficient. According to one prominent consultant, by making work environments so inherently social, companies may be preventing office introverts from reaching their full potential. After all, some people don’t come to work to play foosball or jam in the music room; they come to work.
- Why are innovative perks offered in so many companies?
- What must companies remember about innovative perks in the workplace?
Source: Megan Garber, “Perks and Recreation,” The Atlantic, December 2012. Photo courtesy of Shawn Collins.