FARGO - Sliding down a “Google” slide to get to accounting, playing video games on break, or hitting the coffee machine for a cup on the boss are some of the trendy perquisites becoming more common in workplaces as companies cast about for ways to keep their workers happy and in the fold in the ever-tightening labor market.
But it may be giving people more work flexibility and training are much bigger points when it comes to holding on to the people that make your company click.
Myriad Mobile has options for its team members to have fun: ping-pong, free snacks and beverages, board games, video games, a patio to take in some sun.
But that isn’t the core of what they are about, says Camille Grade.
“We don’t consider that culture. We consider that perks,” the firm’s vice president for marketing said Wednesday, June 5.
“To me, it seems like Myriad is more about growth, in career, in your realm of work, as a human. We really invest in our team members to learn their particular area of expertise,” Grade said. “We really value relationships. We really value that internally with our team members. That manifests itself with our customers and clients.”
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Fargo-based accounting and business advisory firm Eide Bailly has found that investing in employees pays off.
“We kind of focus on wellness in the workplace ... physical, emotional and social wellness, financial wellness and career wellness,” said Kayla Koehmstedt, the Fargo office marketing coordinator. “We get that life happens. If you need to go to that doctor’s appointment, or that dance recital, or whatever, we’re really flexible about that.”
Employees are given time to volunteer on their own or take part in company volunteerism efforts, Koehmstedt said.
And those accountants like to have fun, with “lighten up” parties during tax season.
“Our most popular one is the ‘10-key challenge’ which we run similar to a March Madness bracket, where we have people in the office sign up to compete against each other” in adding up numbers on a 10-key adding machine-style keypad, Koehmstedt said.
Training also helps make people happier, said Chad Flanagan, the partner in charge of Eide Bailly’s Fargo office. That’s why the firm has tuition reimbursement and bonuses for passing tests for the CPA exam.
“Just making sure we support their efforts to build their skill sets is incredibly important,” he said.
Scott Meyer, the Ozbun Director of Entrepreneurship at North Dakota State University, says helping employees connect with each other is essential.
“I think a lot of people are looking for community as well as financial security. Things like (events/games) at the workplace are just another way to meet - so workers can share experiences. I think when people have that kind of culture, then they work better together. Most people are not turning out widgets,” Meyer said.
“Working in terms of time is not necessarily the best way to measure productivity. Right? It’s more the quality of work. So, I think people are finding to take some breaks, getting to know your colleagues, you’ll work better in a shorter amount of time,” Meyer said.
Jane Pettinger, an assistant professor of management at Minnesota State University Moorhead’s Paseka School of Business, says outreach to employees should have happened a couple decades ago, but may have been delayed by recessions.
“The stuff that employees are doing today should have been done 20, 30 years ago to hang onto people, but they got away with not doing the cool stuff that they’re doing now because they could always hire someone else. And if they lost someone, they lost someone,” Pettinger said. “But now, they’re going, ‘Oh man, if we lose someone, it’s a really big deal.’”
The emphasis on fun “is wonderful, but we still need meaning to the work we’re doing,” Pettinger said. “If you have a fun workplace. You’re less likely to leave it, but you would if the work you’re doing doesn’t feel meaningful to you,” she said.
A good wage and training are key, she said.
“Skill sets so quickly get out of date today with the pace of change, that if organizations aren’t keeping people up to date with their skill sets, the employees will have no choice but to leave and go somewhere that will help them stay up to date. (Younger employees) don’t see themselves joining an organization for 40 years. That’s incomprehensible to them,” Pettinger said, adding “If you don’t provide everything they need, they should go.”