Identifying the RIGHT Workplace Amenities

February 2015
Caroline Quick

In Silicon Valley, where the quest for top talent is like trying to get the best parking space in a snowstorm (yes, that’s a shout out to my Boston colleagues who are getting pelted by snow this week), we hear a lot of discussion around workplace amenities. Tech companies like Google, Twitter, Salesforce, Facebook and others are renowned for offering up incredible workspaces with incredible benefits to go along with them; from cafes to energy pods to on-site massage therapists, employees can choose from a vast array of offerings that enhance their workplace experience and promote health and well being. And all of the evidence points to the fact that these amenities are contributing to productivity, retention, and faster time-to-market.

Workplace amenitiesAll of that said, I get asked a lot of questions when it comes to this topic:

Who has the best offerings? What are they?

How do they measure up to our amenities? How can we compete?

My response is that the “best workplace amenities” are different for every company based upon the culture and objectives you are trying to achieve, as well as your selected location. And these must complement your company benefits. For example, when I was at Twitter and my children were very young, I took advantage of a flex time schedule, an invaluable workplace benefit, as well as the food service offerings that enabled me to have a quick, healthy lunch so that I didn’t have to waste time figuring out meals.

So how do you figure out the right workplace perks for your company? Start with an employee survey that will not only help you learn about preferences but also the habits of your workforce.

Planning Out Your Employee Survey

It’s important to take time to properly phrase your questions. For your initial survey, you might not necessarily want to ask “Would you rather rock climb or take a CrossFit class for exercise?,” as these types of questions will only get you very directed, specific results that could limit your options and consideration set. Instead, consider asking questions such as:

What are some things that enable you to be your most productive at work?

  • Ability to workout during the day
  • Quiet areas to focus within the office
  • Etc.

How do you spend your free time?

If you could learn to do something new, what would it be?

You can use a Likert Scale for questions such as:

  • It is important for me to interact with my coworkers on a social level.
  • Lunch at the office would enable me to focus more throughout the day.

It is also helpful to list the top offerings that your company is considering and have employees rank them. You might be surprised to find that doggie daycare is more important than access to a woodworking studio.

You may have a group that really enjoys going out for lunch or maybe your employees tend to take shorter lunches while working. Others might work out during their lunchtime because it’s the only time they have during the day to exercise. All of these details can really shed some light on which amenities are the right ones for your company culture.

As you evaluate your options, you should also be conscious of the message that leadership is sending to employees with regard to expectations. If you have a range of amenities that includes an onsite gym and full food service for breakfast, lunch and dinner, will your employees take that to mean that they should be at the office for all of these meals and beyond? Again, it’s about the full range of benefits as well as the tone and example that your leadership sets with the team.

In my next post, I will dive into some specifics on one of the biggest workplace perks: food service. There are a lot of considerations when evaluating food options for your company – I’ll share my experience in evaluating these, the results as well as some of the more unexpected challenges we discovered. In the meantime, please let us know:

What workplace perks you love? What are the ones you could do without?