Labor historians call ‘work perks’ as ‘welfare capitalism’, a term that describes the benefits offered by the companies as an eyewash. From health care and stock options, free food to napping cells, almost all workplaces come with innovative schemes to lure employees. Handy believes that these so-called perks come at a price. In fact, these perks can make you feel like you have lost your freedom and are being bound by invisible shackles to the work desk.
The dark side of work perks are described below:
- Free food – Benefits of free food are laid out by most companies today. This is not necessarily for employee’s well-being but targeted more towards the benefits that it brings to the employer. Having dinner options lures the employees to work long hours and makes it easier for them to stay till late at the office. Lunch benefits are provided more so because the employees are not expected to leave the office too often. This way, the hours of productivity increases which is ultimately for the employer’s benefit.
- Stock options to the employees – Providing stock options is considered to be a valuable tool for companies, especially where the workers are prone to jumping ship. It is like holding a carrot and luring people because stock options are typically earned slowly over a period of years. This makes sought after employees to stay longer in the company which on the broader spectrum works best for the employer.
- Behavioral transformation – It is a kind of tactics by the companies to make people come to rely on the benefits provided by them; so much so that they find it difficult to come out of it. This is, in a way, molding the thinking patterns of the individual to become workaholics and addicted to the conditions provided by the employers. The aim of the policies laid out is also to make it painful for the employees to leave for the competition.
- Signing bonuses – This is another work perk that is gaining popularity with a lot of companies. Signing bonuses are purportedly a reward for starting a job. They are structured in such a fashion that you have to pay back if you leave in the first year or two. Sometimes there is also an interest-paying part attached to the principal amount which obviously is more difficult to pay back. This makes the employees stick to the minimum working time of three years or as designated by the offer letter.
- Giving away mobile phones and laptops – It is seen as a regular perk to receive laptops and mobile phones from the company that you are working for. This ensures that you are available 24×7 and can be reachable at all times. Something ‘urgent’ is sure to crop up every single week wherein you are supposed to be on a laptop even after office hours or on weekends. This perk sure sucks the freedom out of you.
Handy believes that by providing irresistible perks, employers lure employees to join the company and stay there for good. Workplace benefits are still alluring for most people until they discover the conditions associated with them.