Do Talented Professionals Have the Right to Expect Perks?

perks1The topic of using perks to attract and retain great talent is not new. Perks, benefits, cool offices … you’ve heard the schpeal. But there’s still some debate about whether or not top performers have the right to expect or ask for perks.

So here’s the thing. For decades, a salary and a shit-talking manager was what you could expect from your job. People were more likely to stay with the same companies for their entire careers.

Times have obviously changed.

You may have heard the term free agent thrown around quite a bit lately. It’s often used interchangeably with “actively looking for new opportunities.”

And I know a lot of people who are living their professional lives as constant free agents. They hop from company to company … in search of the best cultures and perks, the most challenging work, and the most competitive salaries.

Thanks to the Internet, right? Now you can work virtually, search for jobs anywhere in the world, and compare your company’s culture with others through social media and networking.

And that has created a competitive marketplace for jobs, right? For both candidates and employers.

So if you have it “going on” in the conventional sense — if you kick ass at your job or if your company has breakthrough technology and a killer culture — you are kind of allowed a little bit of entitlement.

Not everyone will care about your perks as an employer. Not everyone will care about your exceptional track record as a candidate. But if you’re demanding more out of work as an employee than a salary (like purpose or work/life balance) or if you’re demanding more out of your team than 40 hours of mediocre work per week (like discretionary effort or exceptional performance) … then you might want to consider looking into the talent war and how to play the game.

As I mentioned in a comment on last week’s post on the same topic, you don’t have to play along. No one will storm into your office demanding perks. Just like no one has ever aggressively sought after mediocre job applicants and told them to fix their resumes.

For as long as there have been resumes and applications … candidates have been expected to be remarkable. Mediocre or just plain bad candidates just don’t get considered or contacted.

In the same way, employees have the right to disregard employers who don’t have the qualities they are looking for. And more and more, companies are expected to be special.

Employers have always required or encouraged employees to have the company’s best interests in mind … to save money and time, to work efficiently and effectively, and to be honest and generally good.

Employees are just requiring the same back, now. They want employers who give a rip about them.

That’s not entitlement or elitism. It’s just different.

If you don’t have perks, who cares? Perks are usually just a symptom of a company whose leadership actually cares about their people.

And if you’re complaining about candidates being elitist for wanting to feel valued … then you’ve got bigger problems.