Pay to the order of morale

HR Leaders can be guilty of putting employee morale above everything else, and often it is the sword that we choose to die on.

• Freedom to work whenever, wherever, and if-ever they want

• Chef-prepared meals – at the employees’ homes

• Free shuttle service – via helicopter…

These are all perks that, while technically doable, obviously are not feasible to most, if any, organizations. But why not? If a chef shows up at your employees’ houses every day and whips something up, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that’s going to give the ol’ morale a nice boost. Or if you had a position that required the associate to be in the office full-time, it would sure be a lot sweeter to be shuttled in via helicopter every day. Any of these initiatives would cause your Indeed responses to spike – you might even get a 5-star rating on Glassdoor.

The problem is these aren’t cost-effective. And while these are extreme examples, the underlying truth is the same – if you want Executive Leadership to take your initiatives seriously, you must think like a business person. Using the reasoning “if we do this, it will be great for morale” is fine sometimes, especially when morale genuinely is a problem and/or boosting morale is a part of the overall business strategy. Even then, a deeper analysis of the cost to benefit is usually warranted.

The thing about perks or benefits is that they are unique and novel; until they aren’t. If you use them to disguise a broken culture, their value diminishes quickly. I once worked with a company with a strong sense of loyalty and virtually no perks. I also worked with a company with great perks and non-existent employee loyalty. The difference? The leadership. One had a very charismatic (though often overbearing) CEO. The other was a pretty average leader who bought your loyalty with perks and bonuses.

“Wait a minute, Tex,” you are saying. “I ain’t allergic to money and perks!” I am sure you are not, but as an employer that becomes little more than a commodity – something that you will use as your next bargaining chip when you have enough time under your belt to move on without looking like a job hopper. If this leader had the charisma of the other, or the other offered the benefits of that latter, they would have the pick of the litter when it comes to people. Though they wouldn’t have spent much time looking because no one would leave.

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