When starting out in work some years ago one of the perks was the three-course lunch provided free of charge to all employees in the company dining room. You had to pay for the beer and wine though!
While established businesses, like my old employer, have continued to strip out such soft benefits from their offices it has been the complete opposite at many of the younger firms – led by the technology companies. They have stuffed their offices with free canteens, coffee bars, games areas, gyms and even bars serving alcohol at the end of the day.
I wonder why it is that the old businesses have found it tough to recruit people while the younger cohort have managed to attract all the best candidates! Although free food and table football are not the only reason why people would join one company over another (I don’t think!), it is clear that these perks have proven to be elements of consideration for people when deciding where to pitch up for work.
While much of the focus to date has been on providing leisure-type activities for younger employees there is the start of a move to expand the attractions out to a broader base of employees as evidenced by the move of Goldman Sachs bank to incorporate a raft of family-friendly features into its planned new European headquarters in London.
Among them will be a 7,000 sq ft nursery and play centre that will include two napping rooms, art gallery and Wi-Fi connected smartboard where employees will be able to enjoy 20 free days of childcare per year and can then pay for further days. There will also be facilities for school-aged children during the holidays.
The idea is that this will help the bank reverse the gender pay gap by providing the incentives for mothers to return to work knowing the childcare is being handled and their offspring are close by. There are even nursing rooms for breastfeeding mothers on-site for those with newborns. There will also be health centre, gym, a bike park for 455 cycles, roof garden and various other facilities.
These will clearly help Goldman Sachs to keep its people on the premises at all hours. But whatever its motives it should be seen as a progressive move and one that retailers should take note of.
At a time when they are finding it extremely tough to recruit the right calibre of people for some of the more specialist roles – especially within the technology areas – the provision of additional elements within the workplace will become increasingly important to retailers.
Glynn Davis, editor, Retail Insider
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