The merits of employee perks — improved morale, productivity, appeal to new hires — may seem obvious. But management might be skeptical, seeing only additional costs with questionable benefit. In a recent Staples Business Advantage poll, more than four in five respondents cited tight budgets or uncertain payoff as obstacles to buy-in.
So, how can you get the bosses to come around to your way of thinking? Try this five-step strategy to build a compelling argument.
1. Make your objective clear
Even if you know which perk your team would appreciate most, you’ll need to decide how exactly you want to ask management. Making your request specific could improve the chances that it will be granted. For example, proposing an extra vacation day per quarter might yield better results than the vague request for “more vacation time.” Similarly, asking if colleagues can arrive at work after the morning rush hour might be better received than simply asking for more flexible schedules.
2. Gather supporting facts
The more robust your argument, the better your chances of success. Seek out data that backs up your proposal and shows why offering perks is important.
Look for points such as these:
• Flexible work arrangements make employees happier and more productive, according to research. In the latest Staples Workplace Survey, 43 percent of respondents called the option to work remotely a must-have.
• More days off can mean more than money: A full 80 percent of workers polled by Fractl, a content marketing firm, said they would consider a lower-paying job that offered more vacation time over a higher-paying one that offered less.
• Employee wellness should be a priority for employers, said four in five of the workers that Staples polled. Creating a wellness room or offering discounted gym memberships or fitness classes can support this objective.
3. Price it out
For perks that cost money, save management the step of doing the math. If you’re proposing weekly, on-the-house lunches, browse the menus of a few local spots and create a price range for each based on employees choosing the least expensive and most expensive selections. If you’re exploring a team gym membership, call around to nearby gyms to find out what group discounts they offer. As you go through this process, ask your colleagues for their opinion. They might strongly prefer certain lunch spots, for instance, or find certain gym locations more convenient.
4. Suggest a trial run
Management may be more inclined to give you the go-ahead if you suggest testing your idea first. This may be especially true if you’re floating a flexible work arrangement. Employees could work from home once or twice per week for a month, for instance. A trial run lets managers gauge the impact on productivity, collaboration and other important success factors. It could also surface factors that would enhance the arrangement. For example, equipping remote workers with conferencing software or other tools could help increase their productivity.
5. Track results
If you succeed in winning a perk for your team, congratulations! But, don’t stop there. Keep tabs on what happens next, as this can help you both justify an ongoing investment and demonstrate the value of your hard work.
A few ways to track results include:
• Employee surveys. How have the perks affected morale and engagement? Make the surveys anonymous so that responses are candid. Easy-to-use online survey tools can help with this.
• Company results. What impact, if any, has providing the perks had on production, sales, customer service and other important metrics?
• Recruitment. Has the perk made your company more attractive to potential hires? Your human resources department or hiring manager may have insights.
It can help to remind management that the payback of offering perks won’t be apparent immediately. Yet over time, investing in team morale can make your company a place where everyone feels good about contributing their best efforts.