This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

October 22, 2014

Top Employee Perks and What's Coming (Part 1)

Some years ago, my late partner Roger Herman and I wrote a book called "Lean & Meaningful: A New Culture for Corporate America" (L&M). In it we outlined what over 200 organizations were doing to "get lean", yet provide "meaningfulness" to their employees. Earlier this year, Kate Harrison, writing for, detailed what she considered to be the "most popular employee perks" among Information Technology companies. Based on that article, this Herman Trend Alert includes other best practices from around the world.

As labor markets tighten, smart employers look for ways to add value to the employee experience to attract and retain top talent.

What companies are doing today gives us good indications of what is coming tomorrow and next year. According to Harrison, the perks fall into seven categories: game rooms, food, physical health, mental health, time off, company retreats, and free stuff. We would add an additional category, "cool offices", but perhaps in Silicon Valley where many of the IT companies are located, cool offices are a given. (Due to limited space, we will only cover a few of these categories this week.)

Game rooms have become much more sophisticated, since we wrote L&M, when leading edge companies had foosball, billiards, and Ping-Pong tables and darts. Adding to the traditional games, some companies now offer arcade games, like "Dance, Dance, Revolution" and even simulators.

Food: The free lunches of the 1990s have given way to Dropbox's granola wall, fresh squeezed juice station, and made-to-order stir-fry bar. "ONTRAPORT offers its employees their choice of two daily breakfasts, including a breakfast burrito bar, and daily lunch, including a salad bar. Their free daily farm-to-table 'Worksnax' include press juiced from Ah Juice, in Santa Barbara. And the Tandem Computer Friday afternoon Beer Bashes have evolved into's two kegerators*, providing employees anytime access to cold, locally brewed beer.

The gym memberships and workout rooms of yesterday have morphed into the likes of's climbing wall and Google's conference rooms on wheels (eight-or ten-person bicycles). Plus, companies like Soul Cycle offer unlimited free spinning classes and many companies are offering to track employees' fitness activities through Jawbone Up¨ devices (our favorites) and FitBits.

Of course, the employers' challenge is two-fold: first, they are competing with other companies that are continually looking for ways to add more and more value and second, employees are constantly redefining expectations, based on the status quo. In other words, the value that you added in January becomes "what-is-expected" by September or even sooner. Then companies must look for even more creative ways to add value to successfully compete.

Expect to see companies find more and better creative ways to enhance the employee experience with all-organic and more elegant food (Google already offers a sushi bar) and all kinds of additional "freebies".

Our challenge to smaller employers is to look at what you can offer that makes sense for you and your employees? Tune in next week for Part 2.

*Kegerators are refrigerated kegs of beer.

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