I admit it: The idea of receiving perks once seemed really cool. Fortunately I wised up.
I started my first “real job” (finally out of college, trying to build a career) as an entry-level manufacturing employee. Every day I walked across a huge parking lot, past the spots reserved for managers near the entrance to the plant.
I wanted one of those spots. Not because I minded walking, but because having a reserved spot would mean I was a big dog.
Years later I took a management position at another plant and got a reserved parking spot by the entrance to the office area. I parked there the first day and thought, “Why do I need a reserved spot? What makes me special?”
The answer? Nothing.
So I started parking on the side of the plant where the other manufacturing employees parked.
Here’s the problem with most perks. Perks may be intended as rewards, but all they really do is create artificial distinctions based on arbitrary, sometimes self-serving criteria.
That’s why dropping silly perks is a great way to break down a few barriers between you and the people you most need to connect with: your employees.
Here are seven that need to be eliminated today:
- Trips with vendors and suppliers. In many industries the “vendor fishing trip” is a time-honored tradition. Forget tradition — stop accepting. Why put yourself in a position where influence could be implied? Besides, your employees don’t get to go, so why should you? A great vendor doesn’t provide tickets to a ballgame or a fancy meal; a great vendor provides excellent service and quality products at a great price. Caveat: If the vendor agrees, you could put all employee names in a hat and draw a few lucky winners at random.
- Reserved parking spaces. You don’t need to park close to the front door. A little rain won’t hurt you. Caveat: The only time reserved spaces make sense is when they are reserved for employees who work late at night and go to their cars alone. (And if your parking lot is potentially dangerous during off hours, make sure you do more than set up reserved spots to make it safe.)
- Different lunch or break areas. Think the executive lunch area is a bygone relic? Nope. In the last year I’ve seen six. Use the space for another purpose and get out and mingle. And when you do, don’t sit at a table with your peers. Always sit with the rank and file; you spend enough time with the other managers as it is. (In fact, your rule should be “No more than one manager or supervisor at a table.”) Caveat: Maintaining different lunch or break areas based on geography or employee convenience is fine, but make sure your area is no nicer than any other area.
- Different doors. OK, so you have a master key that opens all doors. And it’s really convenient to enter the facility through the side door. But if no one else can use that door, you shouldn’t use it either. Caveat: If entering through a specific door has a tangible business purpose, like carrying in equipment or supplies, that’s fine. If only because you’re “special,” no.
- Offices with doors. Don’t take the door off its hinges, but do leave it open except during confidential discussions with employees. Your office is just another tool that supports your job function; it should not shield you from employees. Caveat: I know sometimes you need peace and quiet to complete a project; just do so sparingly.
- Meeting refreshments. Is it customary to get bagels and beverages for a meeting? Fine — but who pays? If the company pays, stop. Managers have a lot more meetings than employees, and you would be surprised by how many employees think, “Oooh, it’s bagel day again… must be nice…” Besides, if your meetings run so long you need nourishment to keep going, you have an entirely different problem. Caveat: If you are meeting with employees, providing refreshments is very cool.
- Leaving the facility during the work day. I know you work long hours and shoulder tons of responsibility. It’s only fair if you run out to a doctor’s appointment during work hours, right? If your employees can do likewise, without penalty, fine. Otherwise no. When you arrive late or leave early or flit in and out of the building during work hours… and others don’t enjoy the same discretion and freedom… all you do is prove that standards are applied very differently. Caveat: No caveat. Nothing irritates an hourly employee more than watching a manager “run out for a couple hours.” Trust me.
What do you think? Fair or unfair? Know any other perks that do more way more harm than good?
NOW WATCH: Ideas videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.