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The hidden best perk at US employers: does it apply to the UK?

Job perks are usually considered to include aspects such as gym memberships and generous holidays

Research from top US companies shows that employees increasingly value a less obvious perk – having a purpose and knowing that they are making a difference.

While free lunches, discounts, gym memberships, generous holiday allowances and flexible working are all aspects that workers consider perks of a job, it seems that these are not the only benefits to cultivate a motivated and loyal member of staff.

Research based on some of the highest-ranking employers in the US has continually shown that there is more to workplace happiness than the obvious perks, with example after example showing that staff increasingly value understanding how their work makes a difference.

Gaining recognition for completing good work and understanding what purpose or meaning staff have in achieving company goals are seen as driving forces for motivation, morale, increased productivity and loyalty. When companies adopt a purpose-driven culture, workers feel more engaged, which results in lower levels of staff turnover, increased profits and business growth.

Southwest Airlines, for example, makes sure its staff who have gone the extra mile gain the recognition they deserve and see how their daily tasks make a difference.

SAS Institute, ranked the sixth Best Employer 2016, has fostered a company culture of purpose, where staff identify how they make a difference to other people’s lives. For staff at SAS, the real perks of the job are not the things you can see; instead, it is the things you can’t see that count. 

Top-ranking company Google offers staff at its US headquarters generous benefits, including free food. Although workers are more than happy to be given free meals, for many staff this is not the main motivating factor to work for this internet giant; instead, staff increasingly relish the prospect of being involved with a business that can help to change the world.

It is not difficult to understand why Marathon Petroleum has been ranked the Best Employer in America. By creating a caring culture, the company ensures employees understand that their work has meaning and purpose, helping to establish a happy and motivated workforce.

Experts believe that simply telling staff that their work has purpose and meaning may not necessarily be enough to achieve the desired goals, however. Often it is about getting staff involved so that they can see that contribution for themselves. Leading accountancy firm KPMG, for instance, asks its staff to share their stories of how working at KMPG makes a difference to the lives of other people.

These examples from top US employers show there is no reason why British firms cannot adopt the same principles. Giving staff recognition and helping them to understand their purpose or meaning costs nothing; therefore, businesses of every size should be able to put these hidden perks into practice to create a loyal, purpose-driven culture.

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