Two Sides: Should Employers Give Employees the Fringe Benefits They Want?

February 28, 2019
MRA Edge
Engagement & Retention

Two MRA experts each take a side to cover the whole story.

For sure!

  • It’s a morale booster. What a perfect way for employees to feel like they have been heard. Leaders have listened to their workers (either through focus groups or an engagement survey) and are offering what’s important to them. It’s a sure way to strengthen the culture at the office.
  • Benefits can be fun and functional. Some of these benefits could make an employee’s life easier, like on-site dry cleaning pick-up or a fitness center. They are things people are doing anyway, so getting it done at work gives them more time to enjoy their personal lives.
  • A reason to be excited. People spend most of their waking hours at their jobs—these benefits provide great motivation and eagerness to come to work (and be engaged).
  • They make you look good. Some benefits are not only great retention tools, but a strong recruiting strategy also, especially with Millennials and Gen-Zers in mind. Most people have debt coming out of college, and flexibility is high on the list of many, so these fringe benefits appeal to the masses.
  • It’s just the right thing to do. Fringe benefits make employees happy, and happy employees are going to go the extra mile and be committed to their jobs. Usually it’s the superstar employees who leave, but these thoughtful benefits may keep the high performers on the job and satisfied.

No way!

  • Most of these benefits cost money. Many companies just don’t have it in their budgets to reimburse hefty tuition bills or constantly stock a fridge with food and beverages.
  • Some people just won’t use them. What about employees who are allergic or scared of dogs? And a beer fridge doesn’t work in all workplace environments (and may be at odds with the organization’s drug and alcohol policy). Certain employees won’t take advantage of these benefits, which could very well turn into a bone of contention for them.
  • What about trust? A number of managers believe that some of their workforce can’t be trusted, so benefits like working from home or free items for the staff may get abused.
  • Enough is enough. Shouldn’t employees be happy that they have a job and a consistent paycheck? If employees want to leave, they will leave. A pool table isn’t going to keep them at a job they don’t like.
  • It’s not a good fit for some companies. If leaders are going to be successful in creating this benefit culture, their buy-in can’t be half-hearted. For organizations that are driven from the top down with one person who controls everything, it won’t work if he or she isn’t all in.

Some employers offer fringe benefits without careful planning or thoughtful implementation, so the efforts result in wasted time and money. So, if you are going to do it, do it right! Figure out which rewards truly improve engagement enough to outweigh the costs.

MRA members can always contact a HR Advisor to ask any questions, about fringe benefits or any other HR matters, by calling 866-HR-HOTLINE (866.474.6854) or emailing

Source: Michael Hyatt, Director, HR Government Affairs and Abby Schieber, SPHR, MA - HR Business Advisor/Trainer, MRA - The Management Association

Read the full issue.