Company perks: do potential employees care?

A recent LinkedIn backlash against Manchester agency Social Chain has brought an interesting issue to our attention. The fast-growing social team found the ire of LinkedIn’s keyboard warriors, thanks to the posting of a series of images showing their welcome packs for new starters, initiation process, and ongoing staff benefits.

Social Chain are far from the only perpetrators - many other firms are sharing images of the shiny new Macbooks, luxury handbags and high-end teas and coffees that compose their employee welcome packs. The trend raises an important question for us: how much do staff perks really matter to potential employees? And if they don’t matter, what does a company get from sharing examples of their generosity with the world?

On the face of it, there’s little to get het up about. Surely all businesses should care about their employees, and providing a free continental breakfast every day shows a genuine interest in staff wellbeing, doesn’t it?

The answer, for us in any case, isn’t so simple. We speak to hundreds of candidates every week, and we can count on one hand the number of times that candidates have mentioned welcome packs or staff benefits as reasons for taking a particular role.

While perks are usually warmly received, they are very much a nice-to-have for candidates, with many stating that they’d prefer the investment that’s gone into breakfasts, staff treats or ping pong tables to be put into their wages or increased holiday and family leave instead.

The other argument put forward by LinkedIn commenters was that the businesses are just using the images to show off. While this may be true to an extent, many candidates will take a cursory scroll of a prospective employer’s social feed before applying for a role to give them an indication of whether or not its the right place for them to further their career. As mentioned previously, copious staff benefits won’t single-handedly make a candidate desperate to work for an employer, but they can help to seal the deal.

For us, the best strategy for employers is to carefully consider and tailor staff rewards to reflect the kind of company they are and the staff they want to attract. The tactics employed by Social Chain and other such agencies may work well for workers at the beginning of their careers, but be completely inappropriate for those looking for more corporate or senior positions. There’s no right or wrong on this issue, but we’d suggest employers take the discussion as a chance to review current staff benefit plans and decide if they’re really working.

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