Why You Shouldn’t Compete for Talent on Perks

The competition for all-star talent is getting more intense every day. The people who have the potential to transform your business can put their skills and drive to work at any number of companies. Why should they choose yours?

Enter perks. To make their organizations more attractive, business leaders are dreaming up ever more inventive, enticing, and sometimes even eyebrow-raising perks. Free dry cleaning services. The ability to bring your dog to work. On-site massages or manicures. Paid sabbaticals. The free coffee you once wowed candidates with is merely table stakes today. Now what?

I was recently at an HR development program where the subject of perks came up. One of the participants starting talking about her company’s strategy to lure candidates to sign with her organization versus others in the area. The plan? She simply looked at what the company leading the pack offered for perks … and then rolled out the exact same benefits.

In some ways, this is a very reasonable approach. But it’s also a race to the bottom. When we were kids dealing with peer pressure, many of us were asked by our parents or teachers, “Well, if she jumped off a bridge, would you?” Simply replicating other companies’ perks and playing a game of one-upmanship is not only not sustainable in the long-term -- it’s also not authentic.

At Lola.com, we’re fond of saying to candidates, “Don’t come for the perks.” Yes, we have all the fun stuff other tech companies have -- cold brew, free snacks, beer on tap, slick office space, and so on. But we don’t want anyone to choose Lola.com for those reasons. Cold brew is what makes us the same. Our people and the culture they create are what make us different.

One of our core values at Lola.com is “Wicked Loving.” We want people who care about and for each other. Snacks are one thing, but the opportunity to work alongside a wicked loving team? That’s far and away our best perk.

With that in mind, we’ve been very intentional about tailoring our perks and benefits strategy to care for our people - body, mind, and soul. This means we’re very competitive in some areas -- healthcare, for example -- and not even on the map in others. But we’re more than okay with that because it reflects our culture, not a replica of some other company’s. It helps candidates make their choice on what makes Lola Lola, and not what makes us slightly better than the company down the street.

In my view, your benefits strategy shouldn’t start with what your competitor is doing. Frankly, that doesn’t matter. What are you doing? What kind of culture are you trying to create? What do the people at your organization value, not at a surface level, but at their core? Figure that out first, and then make your strategy. You’ll lose some candidates, but the employees you do bring on will be that much more fulfilled.

Emma Brudner, director of People Operations at Lola.com, authored this article. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of HR&DigitalTrends.