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Is That Perk Too Good to Be True?

Topics: Work Culture
JD Hancock/Flickr

Your job enticed you with promises of a relaxed Friday dress code, unlimited bowls of cereal in the break room, or free dry cleaning. But are these offerings really to your benefit? It depends on the fine print and how they fit into your work life.

Perks definitely vary by industry, company type and location — but sometimes any perk can be “too much.”


1. Too Much Fun isn’t Fun

WeWork, a company that provides coworking space for freelancers and small companies, offers various options for rentable office space, by the hour, day or month for one to 1,000-plus employees. They even offer startup-like perks to their members, like snacks and beer on tap.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

That last perk has proved to be a little problematic, however. WeWork recently announced that they’ll now limit NYC location WeWorkers to a max four pints of free beer per day.

Where did this decision come from? Perhaps the recent lawsuit filed that alleges that at the WeWork HQ — the corporate headquarters, not the coworking spaces — Friday happy hours and free beer on tap were getting out of hand.

A “former employee, who claims she was sexually assaulted at two company events and ultimately fired in retaliation for reporting the incidents, alleged that ‘in both instances, the male employee professed to be too drunk to remember the incident,’ according to the complaint,” noted Sara Ashley O’Brien at CNN.

2. Mandated Fun Isn’t Fun

Company happy hours, potlucks and costume contests are attempts at team-building that have been around for a long time. But when the fun is mandatory (much like a Liz Lemon Party) it’s just not a good time.

Liz Lemon party

One tech employee lamented to Liz Ryan at Forbes about the forced twice-monthly team building exercises her group was expected to attend, even when they’d brought up that their team was solid and their work was pressing. Ryan told her that enough was certainly enough, in her opinion.

“HR people are often unsure about how to build a great culture,” Ryan wrote. “They don’t understand that the first step in creating a terrific culture is to listen to your employees — not to force your ideas and schemes on them.”

The same goes with perks. If your work offers a free gym membership to everyone and then mandates that you all use it for lunchtime workouts for “team building,” then it’s not really a perk.

3. Perks Instead of Pay? No THanks

Sometimes you’ll be applying for a job and the salary will be below what’s appropriate, with the counter being, “Well, we have all these great perks!” But if you don’t plan on using them, or if the perks are more of an expected employer provision (such as healthcare or paid vacation days) then it’s kind of a scam, right?

Do you know what your pay (before perks) should be? Take the PayScale Salary Survey and find out.


What are job perks you love and ones you can do without? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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