No one needs a pool table. Everyone needs to talk.

Bean bags. Nap pods. Free beer after 3pm. Pool tables. Pizza Fridays.

We’ve seen a lot of measures by businesses to try to make their employees ‘happy’. Since 2015, the number of perks offered by businesses has grown more than 160%*, according to newly released statistics by Indeed.

They analysed job postings to see what benefits were offered to applicants over the last five years, and their list includes all of the usual suspects we’ve come to expect: ping pong, happy hours, free food and games.

They are all great ways to attract new staff to a business.

But do they really do anything to make them stay?

Bill Richards, UK Managing Director at Indeed, takes the view that the rise in these benefits suggests that employees are focussing more on staff wellbeing. He added, “There is an operational, business case for perks, too. Free meals, games and socialising opportunities encourage mingling and discussion among staff, and can help increase overall levels of happiness, which means staff are likely to be more productive.”

Now, at OpenBlend, we agree that anything that gets people talking is a step in the right direction.

But we can’t help but feel that this isn’t the best way to go about it.

A conversation over a game of table tennis or a buffet table is always going to be very different to an honest, open dialogue with a manager. To make a difference to how valued, satisfied and motivated employees feel in their jobs, conversations need to go a lot deeper than ‘nice shot’ or ‘this is really good pizza’.

Besides, a survey* found that just 3% of people look for friendship in a manager, and only 14% prioritised casual conversation with management. These office perks might be prompting communication, but is it even bringing the right people together?

True wellbeing and productivity are about much more than office sports and snacks. We believe that every individual has a blend – a mix of elements that are important to them, at work and at home. Understanding that blend is vital to getting the best out of employees, and making sure that they are getting the best from life. Someone who feels listened to and valued by their employer is going to have a much deeper satisfaction in their job (and as a result, a higher output) than someone who has a workplace pinball machine they’re too busy to use.

So how do you get to know each employee’s blend? Honest, open dialogue. With their manager. In a productive environment. With clear, actionable items and a way to measure progress.

In short: through people centric management.

It may not have the instant, eye-catching appeal of the perks listed above, but people-centric management will have a bigger impact on employees, managers and all-round productivity than any of them. If an employee is overdue that promotion they were offered, or still waiting on those flexible hours that were promised, or struggling under the weight of their workload, is a gimmick like a pool table really going to keep them happy? Or are they going to take their talent elsewhere? Maybe in their next job, they’ll get to play pool in their own time instead.

Our thoughts on the matter?

No-one really needs a pool table. Everyone needs to talk.

Do you agree? Answer in the comments below – let’s start our own conversation (pool table not included)

The Business Transformation Network have shared this article in partnership with Openblend.

This article was a featured article from Friday 14th February 2020 - Friday 28th February 2020