12 Overrated Employee Perks Your Company Should Avoid Offering

Man aiming at carrot reward

In today’s highly competitive job market, employers often try to woo top talent by advertising a variety of perks of working for their company. While some of these benefits are indeed attractive to job seekers, others simply aren’t so effective when it comes to recruiting or retaining employees.

To find out more, we asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council the following question:

Q. What is one overrated work perk that companies should avoid offering? 

1. Fully paid benefits

Paying 100% of benefits is an overrated work perk. I always think employees should have some skin in the game. Offering plans that are 70 to 90% of the cost is plenty generous and it doesn’t encourage people to sign up if they don’t need benefits. If benefits are free, sometimes people will just sign up, even though they are not using them. —Jennifer BarnesOptima Office, LLC

2. Attendance incentives

Attendance incentives do not work in fluid and flexible organizations. People respond to structure differently. Some can work without leave and produce results, while others take allotted vacations and are still productive. If you’re afraid of vacation leave killing productivity, you can enforce stricter rules such as advanced notice for multiday leave and requiring proper delegation of tasks. —Diego OrjuelaCables and Sensors

3. Nap pods

There are some companies adding nap pods in their office for employees to rest on breaks. This perk is praised by many employees and business owners. However, many people don’t consider the reality of this situation. Could you imagine if there was a large project going on and you just went to the back room to take a nap? It’s simply unappealing and ineffective in practice. —Syed BalkhiWPBeginner

4. Unlimited vacation

Unlimited vacation sounds like a great perk, but the reality is that employees often take less vacation when they are given unlimited days off. Additionally, unlimited vacation policies are just empty promises. If an employee tells you they’re going to take a month off to summer in Europe, you’re likely going to need to replace them. —Brian David CraneCaller Smart Inc.

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5. Free (unhealthy) snacks

Keep your company healthy. Yes, there are certainly times that unhealthy snacks may be desired, and the consumption of these snacks can be a litmus test of how stressed staff are. But getting people addicted to the 2 p.m. sugar rush is not healthy or conducive to good work. Also, it makes staff more tired in the afternoon instead of productive. Just buy some apples. —Nicole MunozNicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.

6. Mandatory team-building activities

It’s not that team-building activities don’t work, but participation should be voluntary. Some folks prefer not to use their free time for work-related activities, and higher-ups should not judge employees who choose not to participate. —Andrew SchrageMoney Crashers Personal Finance

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7. A free company smartphone

Many companies offer their employees a free company smartphone, which sounds great in theory because the latest smartphones are expensive. But a free company smartphone may give new employees the idea that they’ll be on-call all the time. Nobody wants to have to answer the phone and reply to texts regarding work in their own free time. —Stephanie WellsFormidable Forms

8. “Fun” workspaces

Nowadays, you hear so often about “fun” workspaces being offered as a perk of working for a company. In my experience, the novelty of an arcade game in the break room wears off quickly. Skip all the bells and whistles and instead focus on being a good boss. —Colbey PfundLFNT Distribution

9. Catered lunches

Some think that offering free food will keep their employees in the office working longer, as it will limit their breaks. The reality is, not only is free food costly (and a lot of times thrown out), but individuals need to take breaks. Fresh air is good for everyone. It revitalizes you. Your team stepping out to grab a bite to eat is a good thing. They will come back refreshed and ready to work. —Adrien SchmidtAristotle by Bouquet.ai

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10. Gym memberships

The gym is not really an incentive or perk everyone wants or needs. Most often, since it’s paid for, no one really goes—and many of these people weren’t going when they paid their own gym memberships. Instead, focus on other health and wellness perks that encourage people to become healthier and balanced in life. That’s what people are looking for today. —John HallCalendar.com

11. Too much flexibility

Flexibility in the workplace is important to make your employees feel honored and appreciated. However, too much flexibility can end up making them feel like they’re 24/7 employees because their availability has shifted, and this is harmful. If you give away these privileges, it’s important not to expect responses at all times of the day. —Chris ChristoffMonsterInsights

12. Anything designed to keep people in the office longer

I’ve seen companies providing all sorts of perks, from cafeterias to makeup studios in the office. All these things are handcuffs in disguise. They are designed not to make the workplace more comfortable, but to deprive people of any reasons to leave the office whatsoever. As a result, they feel trapped and burn out faster. These perks definitely don’t work as expected. —Solomon ThimothyOneIMS

RELATED: 7 Ways to Keep Your Employees Happy (Without Breaking the Bank)

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