Employers know the importance of keeping their teams engaged. Engaged staff are more motivated. They collaborate more effectively, driving your business to success. Combined with work-life balance, engagement is the path to retention, productivity and, ultimately, competitive advantage.

2015_NOV_AUSNZ_PEOPLE - The Power Of Perks

But hold on a second – what is engagement, really?

It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot. Some say engagement is about making sure your employees are busy and content. Others say it’s more about loyalty, or staff having a stake in their organisation’s mission. We’d say it’s a combination of all those things – and we’d add that you can foster it by treating your staff as individuals, and giving them stuff that helps them out or makes them happy.

That’s where perks come in.

Employees want perks. In fact, they’re even willing to give up other things – other tangible things like pay increases – for the right ones. According to a study[SH1] from US company Technology Advice, 56% of employees would trade a standard salary increase for certain perks. And more than half said perks were important when evaluating a job opportunity.

But how do perks benefit a company?

It’s a simple formula, really. Perks promote and celebrate employee happiness. Happy employees are attached employees. Attached employees are loyal employees, and loyal employees are less likely to leave you. Already there’s a huge cost saving there, as the total cost of losing an employee – including recruiting, training and integrating a new one – can range from tens of thousands of dollars to two times their annual salary.[SH2]

Not only are loyal employees less likely to leave, they’re also more likely to become an advocate for your brand and bring in new customers through the power of word of mouth.

Engaged employees are also productive employees ­– and productivity can have a direct impact on your bottom line.

Take the case of Reload Media, a small digital strategy company in Brisbane. When it put its perks program in place, it went the extra mile to actually calculate its ROI. And when it worked it out, it found that for every $1 it spent on benefits for its 40 employees (including massage therapists, iPhones, travel and a games room), it got $11 back.

To appreciate the true return on investment of a perk you also need to look at the bigger picture. An engaged workforce means higher productivity, which leads to higher retention, innovation, profitability and revenue. We’d also put a case forward for customer loyalty – because, let’s face it, customers like dealing with happy people. And they like them sticking around long enough to build relationships with.

Personalising a perky strategy

It’s easy to Google a list of the top ten perks – you’ll find ping pong tables, free donut breakfasts and puppy days. And sure, those things are fun and can keep your staff happy – unless they happen to be uncompetitive gluten-intolerant cat people.

And that’s the problem with a lot of perks programs. They forget that staff are individuals, first and foremost.

To foster maximum engagement, you want to give your employees things they need, want and will find useful. And the fact is, a 23-year-old graduate and a 45-year-old with three kids have very different wants and needs.

Giving your staff a choice of perks is the key. Options might include financial services, discounted loans, car leases, wealth creation strategies or the right super plan. It might be discounted shopping or unique experiences. Or even a new learning experience – boosting their skills and confidence, not to mention on the job performance.

One last (but very important) thing. For your own sanity, you’ll need some sort of central integrated system to support it all. And that’s where we might be able to help.

Ari Kopoulos Employment Hero

Fully integrated HR software (HRIS) with outsourced Payroll Services. Easy to use, simple HRIS.