8 Popular Office Perks That Aren’t Worth the Investment

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Everyone wants to work in an environment that is supportive of their wants and needs. However, many companies have set a standard where the perks make work seem more like a clubhouse than a work environment. Some perks can even become distractions, especially if they’re not wanted or usable.

To find out which perks employers should reconsider offering their workers, we asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council the following question:

Q. Work perks are wonderful for drawing in talented staff, but not every perk is worth the investment. Which perk should be dropped, and why is it a waste of time or resources?

1. Happy hour

A wasteful perk is probably free booze. By the time Friday happy hour hits, I respect anyone who wants to head out the door and enjoy their weekend. On top of that, a number of employees tend to think, “I have beer at home,” or similar objections. Save the money, promote safe commutes, and skip the workplace happy hour. —Zev HermanSuperior Lighting

2. Unneeded perks

When evaluating perks to offer, open communication with your team is key. You need honest input for an accurate cost-benefit analysis of what to offer. If most folks don’t drive, don’t worry about parking; if your team isn’t much for drinking, substitute a catered lunch for happy hour. Don’t worry about trends or fads (goodbye unused pool table) and give your team perks they actually want. —Ryan WilsonFiveFifty

3. Free food

Free food is not a great perk: It’s expensive, perishable, and becomes expected. It’s also something that can divide people, not bring them together. Consider that people have different likes and dislikes, and some people have allergies, etc. It’s much better to do something specific with a goal, like a team lunch for the purposes of a birthday or welcoming a new team member. This takes the focus off the food and onto the team. It’s better than having food available at all times. —Baruch LabunskiRank Secure

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4. Office toys

Having a “fun” office is cool, but the novelty wears off and the money spent on those toys is wasted. If someone on my staff needs a break, I advocate going for a walk. Fresh air clears the mind and doesn’t cost us a dime. —Colbey PfundLFNT Distribution

5. Unlimited vacation

Don’t offer your employees unlimited vacation, because everyone knows such a thing is not possible in reality. By giving a vague promise, you will confuse your team, and even stress them out when it’s time for their vacation, as they’ll start thinking things like, “I wonder how much is too much?” Instead, give a generous amount of flexible vacation time, with clear numbers. —Turgay BirandEditionGuard

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6. Nap room

If your employees are so tired that they are often using the nap room, then there could be a problem with the flexibility of their schedules. If work allows, let them work the hours they want, instead of mandating a strict 9-to-5 schedule. This flexibility will set you apart and help retain some of your top contributors. —Chris ChristoffMonsterInsights

7. Too many team-building and social activities

It’s fine to have holiday parties and occasional events for team-building, but some companies overdo it. If employees feel pressured to attend these events, it will have the opposite effect of your intention. If your team is working hard, they also need some downtime, which means being away from the office. You don’t have to be a social director; most people would prefer to plan their own free time. —Kalin KassabovProTexting

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8. Anything that’s offered for too long

Perks are really only interesting to employees these days if they change often. When the same perks are offered all the time, employees start to regard them as things they are entitled to, rather than the reward they are supposed to be. We rotate ours, and the idea of “limited time only” really motivates our employees to work to win them. —Vanessa NornbergMetal Mafia

RELATED: 10 Low-Cost Employee Perks That Pay

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