Surface-level perks versus meaningful wellbeing measures

Find out what really matters to your employees and why surface-level perks won’t actually help your business.

Here at We Are Wellbeing, we develop a programme that adds real value to businesses and its employees. While surface-level perks make great advertising content when trying to recruit new employees, stats show the perks employees actually need are linked to progression and meaningful work rather than seemingly ‘fun’ benefits.

Perks employees often get

· Ping pong tables

· Free fruit

· Water coolers

· State-of-the-art offices

· Beer fridges

· Unlimited holidays

· Discounted gym memberships

Many of these are amenities. While access to free fruit and filtered water encourages employees to fuel their bodies with the right nutrients, it’s not enough to keep employees satisfied while at work long-term. These perks give a surface-level impression that a workplace is an engaging and interesting place to work, with no real depth to its offering.

Benefits employees really want

· Work life balance, including flexible working

· An Employee Assistance Programme

· Strong leadership and support

· Budgets for social events

· Inspiring environments and break out areas

· Personal development plans and career progression

· Empowerment to be the best version of themselves

· Practical help improving mental and physical health

· Offer wellbeing activities to encourage staff to take part in new opportunities and activities

You’ll notice the big difference here is ‘perk’ versus ‘benefit’. A perk is a nice thing to have, an additional bonus to life at work. Considered benefits will be the things that make your employees stay with your team.

This is because employee benefits and wellbeing programmes assist in improving your employee’s overall wellbeing. This includes Physical, Social, Mental and Financial wellbeing. The better your employee feels about their life’s direction and motivation, the more likely they are to work hard and do their best for your business.

Wellbeing measures impact staff retention and talent acquisition

When people are supported by their employer, they’re 38% more engaged. This leads to greater productivity, which is a big bonus for businesses.

It’s all very well and good luring people to apply for a role or even accepting a job because they’re dazzled by a long list of surface-level perks. But how long will people stay if their role isn’t structured, they feel stressed and overworked and they don’t know how their role contributes to the overall business goals? Workplace wellbeing is all about finding the right benefits to help your employees thrive personally and professionally.

It’s significantly more expensive to recruit new talent than it is to retain and develop existing team members – but a bad hire can be particularly expensive and time consuming, too. Make sure the people you hire are the best people for the job. They should be talented, but also agree holistically with your company’s values and be a good fit for the rest of your team culture.

Put your best efforts into helping your team be the best they can be. Develop your staff, and ensure they feel valued, and you’ll see a significant increase in staff retention and positive workplace culture.

Consider how Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can be translated to employee needs:

Physiological needs

Let’s start from the bottom and work our way up. A job should pay enough to help employees buy food, pay rent etc. While at work, employees also need breaks, access to food and drink and should have some degree of control over their workplace temperature. This seems basic, but many workplaces don’t have break out areas or a staff room and this can have a hugely detrimental impact on employee wellbeing.


Employees shouldn’t worry about their personal safety, such as getting hurt at work. But this also applies to professional safety. If someone’s job feels insecure or they aren’t sure exactly why they’ve been employed, this leaves people feeling uncertain and lowers morale.

Love and belonging

Is your workplace culture positive? Employees should feel like they are valued and belong as part of the team.


Employees like to feel like they’re doing a good job, and being recognised for their achievements. Regular catch ups and appraisals with trained managers will help employees at every level feel confident and empowered.


Basically, this one means an employee feels able to maximise their true potential. They want to feel in control of their future, empowered to do their best and trusted to do that without feeling micro-managed or criticised. Striking the right balance so employees feel challenged but not overwhelmed will help this.

The above simply won’t be achieved by organising a staff tuck shop. Instead, focus your energies on improving workplace culture. Working with a wellbeing provider such as We Are Wellbeing can offer services designed to really help your employees to thrive.

To find out more about our wellbeing programme, contact us or follow us on Instagram.

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