How to build a winning employee perks program in 2021

How to build a winning employee perks program in 2021

We know that workplaces are changing. We’ve seen massive shifts in the demographic and demands of workers, coupled with the emergence of an ‘always on’ work culture and a standard being set by the world’s leading tech firms, hoping to lure in and retain the best talent with seemingly never-ending perks.

In this post, we’ll explore the building blocks of a winning perks program and arm you with the knowledge to create a workplace environment that champions health, wellbeing, and employee engagement. Because a happy team makes a productive team, and a productive team makes a winning business.

Define Your Company Culture

Creating a culture for employees to thrive in is the first fundamental step to not only attracting and retaining talent, but for underpinning a more specific perks program. A strong work culture fosters a sense of unity, sets standards of behaviour and helps to bolster specific perks initiatives.

Company culture is often something that evolves naturally over time for many offices, but dedicating the time and resource to planning and defining what your company culture should be is an invaluable exercise for companies looking to streamline their perks offerings, hire the right people and retain their staff for longer.

Culture vs Perks

Culture and perks shouldn’t be confused. Although there can be some overlap, it is important to distinguish the difference. For example, a pool table might be a perk implemented as a result of a defined culture aiming to encourage employee socialisation and collaboration in the office. A defined company culture can help to guide which perks to implement and when, and may change as a company grows.

This is especially key for startups and scale-ups – get the company culture right early on and it can help to accelerate growth by fostering unity, direction and clarity of mission for a team.

So how do you define company culture?

Where do you start when it comes to defining what your company culture should look like and how can you implement that culture once defined? Here are some top tips from the experts:

Take a top-down and bottom-up approach

It’s about listening to your employees and marrying their thoughts, ideas and needs with those of the business and senior stakeholders. The companies who manage to do this are those who successfully establish a strong and clear company culture for staff at every level to embrace and work to.

Share your values with your team

“WP Engine lives by five core values that define who we are and inform our work every day. A physical copy of the company values with everyone’s signature hangs proudly on display in every WP Engine office around the world. From the top-down, every employee commits to upholding our values from the moment they start. These values distill what success at WP Engine means and provide a sense of common direction for all our employees and inform our day-to-day behavior.” – Andy North, WP Engine.

Hire for culture add, not culture fit

Although in theory, you want your employees singing from the same hymn sheet, narrowing the field too much when hiring can also have a detrimental effect; creating an environment of unconscious bias and homogeneity. So instead of hiring for cultural fit, try hiring for ‘culture add’ – what can a candidate bring to the table that will add to your culture and help move it in the right direction? Big hitters Facebook and Pandora are doing just that.

Create a feedback loop with your employees

As a company evolves, so do employee needs, challenges (Think COVID-19), and opportunities. You, therefore, need to create a feedback loop with your team to keep track of these shifts and realign accordingly. Anonymous employee surveys and/or regular check-ins are a great way to keep the dialogue going.

Create a culture club

“The values and behaviours you set are important, but you need to have people on the ground bringing that culture to life day-to-day. And this is where your perks program gets to shine. Whether it’s organising regular socials, reviewing survey feedback, or getting the running club out on time, having a culture club will ensure company culture doesn’t become a second priority to growth.” – Kate Humber, HR Director at

Trends to watch in 2021: Prioritise Employee Health + Wellbeing

We know that a healthy team makes a happy team, and a happy team makes a productive one. So when looking at ways to shape company culture, initiatives to promote workplace wellbeing are a great place to start. From a weekly virtual yoga class and home deliveries to a more integrated perk like a healthy lunch program, putting workplace wellbeing at the centre of your culture will positively impact both your employees and your business.

Tool kit for defining a winning perks program:

Define your company culture

This will become the basis for a strong perks program which will in turn complement and reinforce your company’s values. Follow our top tips above for how to define your company culture.

Set your goals + budget

Do you want to reduce employee absenteeism? Improve employee satisfaction? Define your goals, your budget and how you’re going to measure success. Whether it’s through employee surveys or company sick rates, outline how you’re going to track the performance of your perks program.

Pull together a team of champions

Build a team of ambassadors from across the business to support the program. You may need senior stakeholder support to get things over the line, so having a range of ambassadors throughout the company will help.

Speak to your employees

Find out what matters to them to determine what will drive the most impact. This will help you create a program that will genuinely engage your team and make a difference.

Tip: your employee needs may evolve, so don’t forget to check back in regularly, especially if you’re part of a fast-growth team.

Brainstorm ideas

Based on your goals, budgets, and the results from your employee surveys and/or meetings, define what it is you’d like to test.

PR your perks plan

Once you’ve created an awesome perks program, it’s important to get your employees excited about it! Put together a plan to promote these new perks to encourage maximum uptake and engagement.

Scott Pointon
Scott Pointon

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