These 13 Employee Perks Weren’t Such Great Ideas After All

Not all job perks work out well for every company. Sometimes, a good idea for a small firm ends up crashing and burning when applied to a larger business. Other times, the perk is interesting only to a small number of people or ends up rewarding the wrong behaviors.

To find out some employee rewards that were tried, then eventually dropped, we asked members from the Young Entrepreneur Council this question:

Q. What is one perk you’ve offered employees that turned out not to be worth it?

1. Social activities outside of work

Many typical after-work company-sanctioned activities, like happy hours or baseball games, can tend to optimize for a specific demographic, whether by age, gender, or personal social preferences. These activities can also be alienating for people who have outside family responsibilities or different interests, and who feel pressured to attend to be part of company bonding, which shouldn’t be the case. —Roger Lee, Captain401

2. Stock and options

First, let me prelude by saying these can very powerful perks under the right circumstances—if you’re publicly trading, for example, and employees can see that their stock is worth “X,” or you’re hiring high-level executives who want a slice of the company. But if you’re a private company, to most employees, receiving some stock may not be the powerful motivator many are led to believe. —Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net

3. Tony Robbins training materials

Depending on how you look at it, my idea several years ago to buy everyone on my staff (10 people at the time) Tony Robbins personal development training materials was either a great idea or a bad idea. It was a good idea because the material can be life changing; it was a bad idea because very few people actually used the materials. I learned that staff would prefer cash or experiences instead. —Kristopher Jones, LSEO.com

4. Gift cards

We found that employees did not value or use gift cards we gave them. We have found that tangible rewards, such as bonuses, were much more appreciated. As soon as we decided to tie bonuses to business results, our properties’ revenues increased dramatically. I also think it depends on the individual. Everyone is motivated differently. —Ali Jamal, Stablegold Hospitality LLC

5. Pinterest reward board

One day I had the bright idea of having all employees make a personalized rewards board on Pinterest. The board is filled with things that would reward employees for achieving our client goals. Turns out, personalized Pinterest stuff didn’t motivate anyone to work harder. In the end, the thing that motivated our team was simply seeing the significance of their work. —Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

6. Unlimited vacation

We thought unlimited vacation days would be such a huge perk for our employees, but in the end, when they didn’t have any guidance on how much time we considered “appropriate” to take off, they actually ended up taking less time off. We found that we were all better off when we switched to a generous, but guided, number of vacation days. —Allie Siarto, Allie Siarto & Co. Photography

7. Bring your dog to work

We all love dogs, but what are they doing at the office pooing all over the place and causing a ruckus? When we were a smaller company, employees bringing dogs to the office was much more manageable, but as we grew, new employees bringing their dogs quickly turned into a problem. Many of them had aggressive dogs that needed too much attention and were too much of a distraction. —Jacob Tanur, Click Play Films

8. Gym memberships

Most of my team works remotely and it wasn’t feasible to offer gym memberships to people located in different places. Instead, I just encourage my staff to work out in other ways, including sending some of my team new workout gear or equipment that I see they posted on their Amazon wish lists. This way, I’m letting them know I think it’s good they exercise, and I’m incentivizing them with what they want. —John Rampton, Due

9. Side project consulting

For a while, I offered our employees an option to get feedback and advice on their side projects. For some it was advice for family businesses; for others it was blogging projects. A few months after offering this type of help, I found out that employees were working on their side projects during their 9-to-5, and some even had the audacity to ask for advice in the middle of a working day. —Karl Kangur, MRR Media

10. Remote work schedule

Flexibility is every employee’s dream, but standards need to be set for which days, weeks, or months are acceptable to be out of the office. We found working virtually during times when big projects were due or new hires were starting hurt our performance. It created a culture where new employees thought they could come and go as they pleased. This was not easy to correct, but rules were needed. —Matt Wilson, Under30Experiences

11. ‘Leave work early’ days

When things were slow at the office, we decided to institute “take the last hour off” days. Although it was a great advantage for our team members, we realized, after the fact, that they anticipated for it to happen again. When things started to slow down, instead of our employees finding other things to do during the slow hours, they would sit around waiting to be let off early again. —Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors

12. Daily free lunch

Over time, offering free lunches lost its luster. While it’s a good investment for the company (more time in the office!), the reality is that you lose the magic of folks getting into smaller groups and going outside together. Taking a walk helps folks clear their minds, get inspired by new sights, and connect with their colleagues in a new way. —Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

13. Fancy Hands

We gave each staff person five tasks a month from Fancy Hands to get personal assistant jobs done. No one used it. We even had a training to give ideas, and still a no-go. I thought offering it would be great because I loved the service, but it turned out we should have asked first. Who knew? —Kim Walsh-Phillips, Elite Digital Group

Comments are closed.