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The workplace perks that work: Part 2

Andrew Brassleay

Want your employees to get inspired and motivated? Here’s the final countdown in our list of some of the best workplace perks around

 Want your employees to get inspired and motivated? Here’s the final countdown in our list of some of the best workplace perks around (click here for numbers six to 10 in the list).

5. FREE BAR

Drunken fallouts, boozy encounters, forgetting to file that important report after nipping off for a Carlsberg… done badly the workplace bar could be the tuff of HR nightmare. Done right, and it could be the biggest factor for team bonding and productivity in your company’s arsenal. Throw in games such as table tennis, pool or table football into the mix and employers could have a hugely beneficial team bonding arena at their disposal.

Stott and May, an executive recruitment firm, is one such company that provides a free bar to staff. Employees will know when the bar is open through an email sent by a company director, usually Wednesday or Thursday from around 5pm.

Founder Stephen Stott says: “We take it very seriously and ensure that everyone signs an alcohol responsibility agreement. Our expectations are clearly explained to new team members before they start and our staff have always acted responsibly when using the bar.

“We always invite new staff in to have a drink with the team before they start and we’ll usually get caterers in to put on a party for someone’s birthday in the bar area too. It’s also great for entertaining – clients and candidates will often come in to the office for a game of air hockey or table tennis and enjoy a drink with the team.

“Having a free bar contributes to a positive, happy, and cohesive working environment. And you can’t run a successful business without a happy and motivated workforce behind you so anything that contributes to staff happiness is worth the investment.”

4. RECOGNITIONS AND REWARDS

Of course, not everything good in life comes for free. Sometimes work perks can be held back for a little motivational boost to get the team working that extra bit harder to many the workplace perk extra special.

Search marketing agency Propellernet ensure five per cent of its profits goes towards a health and well-being fund to pay for activities decided on and organised by staff. Propellent’s Hannah Carter says: Activities range from taking the whole team to the Royal Albert Hall to see Cirque du Soleil, providing nutritionists to support with diet changes and a 24 hour adventure in the French Alps hiking, rafting, mountain biking and paragliding”.

The company also operates a “dream ball machine” scheme. Hannah explains: “When the agency hits a goal, achieves a target, wins an award, or just because the time is right – because there are no rules around dreams – we release a dreamball and aim to help make that person’s dream come true. 

“So far staff have gone to the World Cup in Brazil, trekked across Africa by motorbike and staged a sci-fi rock opera at Propellernet’s own alpine festival, Slope-Off and renewed wedding vows in Vegas.”

3. GET SOME EXERCISE

Getting the workforce active could be vital to keep productivity up. Providing an onsite gym is one obvious solution for business that have the space and funds to provide one.

But there are other options. For example, with time precious, what better than the short, sharp shock of British Military Fitness sessions. The “fun and effective” group sessions from military-trained instructors will get the heart racing and also aim to improve participants’ motivation and attitude.

Travis Perkins offers its staff free, hour-long sessions twice a week, one before a working day and one after. Carol Kavanagh, Group HR Director of Travis Perkins, says: “We've seen some fantastic well-being results largely because employees are given the chance to squeeze a workout into their busy working week.”

Nicky Hackney, a Travis Perkins employee and attendee of the BMF sessions says: "I had an annual check-up this morning, and both my blood pressure and resting heart rate have come down significantly – to the point where I can realistically look to come off one of the two daily tablets I take for raised blood pressure over the next few months. I have been on this medication for years, and thought I'd be on it for life. I've also lost nearly two stones in weight, and generally feel more alert, less lethargic, and have more energy."

2. FLEXIBLE WORKING

People have busy lives. Smart companies wishes to place greater demand on its staff, should be able to look at ways to give something back to help their work/life balance. That can come in many forms, even shifting a worker’s day to 10am-6pm instead of the usual 9 to 5, could have an enormous positive impact.

Another option is unlimited holidays, a scheme picked up by Virgin. Many companies have said giving employees more of a say over their holiday entitlement has many benefits if done correctly, including increased personal responsibility.

Simon Hankin, joint CEO at  Exposure Digital, says: “Unlimited holiday, if abused by the business offering it, can have adverse effects. Some companies have found that by making holiday unlimited, staff actually take less time off. The reason being that there is no urgency to book holiday as you never lose any holiday allowance. However, our approach is different. We actively encourage people to take holiday. We have a minimum of 30 days that people must use up and insist that everyone takes a block of at least three weeks off for a proper holiday. The result? A 50 per cent increase in time off in return for a more passionate, smarter and well-rounded team.”

1. LUNCHTIME EVENTS

Not taking lunch breaks can hurt productivity. And companies that would prefer their staff to do something more engaging during their breaks then eating at their desk while mindlessly clicking on Facebook could do worse than following the lead of Chiswick Park Enjoy-Work. The site, the workplace of 8,000 employees for various businesses, has a summer programme of events, including a beach, animal petting zoo and a zip wire.

Gareth Bain, Head of Brand at Chiswick Park-Enjoy Work said: “The summer events programme is designed to supercharge the lunch hour and boost employee happiness and productivity.  At Enjoy-Work we have established a tangible link between a great working environment and commercial success for tenants.”

Of course, it helps if, like Chiswick Park Enjoy-Work, your workplace has a 30m by 30m plaza to host such events, but with the right energy and enthusiasm, any business should be able to find a programme to get employees away from their desks together for an hour.

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