Monday, May 19, 2008

Job Perks That Aren't So Perky

What comes to mind when you think of "office perks" or "job perks"? Company vehicle? Expense account? Free food? Can you say "Google?" While you and I might think those things, we might be the only ones. Either that or working conditions across America are starting to resemble those that one might find in the war zone of a third world country, if you're going by the results of a survey by Blumberg Capital Partners.

Blumberg Capital Partners is a US investment firm. They specialize in commercial real estate. Thus, they felt that they were perfectly qualified to conduct a survey on workplace conditions and the perks thereof across the country. They surveyed a paltry 500 people and found that one in three of those employees have either left a job OR accepted a job based solely on the condition of the building or on the perks/amenities of the job. Really?

According to Philip Blumberg, the chairman and CEO of (surprise) Blumberg Capital, yes. He said, "Office conditions, indeed, directly impact employee retention, recruitment and productivity." I'm not really sure that his revelation is "news" to anyone. I'm also not sure if it's entirely accurate when you learn more about what he's referring to as "office conditions".

Among the 500 office workers that were surveyed (for this completely unscientific study with a very low sample number), the biggest complaint that they had was extreme temperatures in the office. That was followed closely (no word on how close "closely" is) by unclean restrooms, outdated furniture, persistent odors, leaky ceilings, crime, rodent problems and insect problems. Wait. What?

Where in the hell are these people working?! Persistent odors?! Leaky ceilings?! Crime?! Rodents?! Bugs?! Human waste?! Cats and dogs! Living together! Mass hysteria! WTF?!

And what is with the outdated furniture complaint? You're going to quit your job because you have a spinning chair from the 80s?! (Don't get me wrong, the unclean restrooms one grosses me out. That IS reason to quit. Soon.) I'm thinking outdated equipment would be more of a complaint than outdated furniture. I don't care if I have to sit in an avocado green room with orange chairs, but I draw the line at having to use a 486 computer that runs Windows 3.1!

Oh, but it gets better. What do the employees that were surveyed want at their jobs for perks? They want a subsidized cafeteria or restaurant. (We can all thank Google for that one.) That's followed by covered parking, a conference center, a food delivery service, a fitness center and an on-site day care. Again, I ask you, WTF?!

I'd like to know what they mean by "food delivery service"? I thought everyone had that and it's called Domino's. And covered parking? Are you kidding me?! THAT is what you people WANT at work?! A roof over your precious vehicle?! Anyone who lists "covered parking" as their number one job perk needs to seriously rethink their priorities.

The survey also provided a write-in sections where those surveyed could write in what their "demands" would be for a better workplace. And, once again, their "demands" for a "better workplace" will shock you (or make you laugh. One of those.). Here are some of their "demands":
  • Hot water in bathrooms. (OK, this is totally reasonable, which is why it's at the top.)
  • Mace for protection. (Protection from WHAT? Do they work in Darfur?)

  • Area to lay down for a quick nap during lunch. (It's called "your car". You'll find it out there in that uncovered parking lot.)

  • Men’s room instead of unisex bathroom. (This, too, seems reasonable.)
  • I wish the building had windows. (Are these people working out of a storage shed?)

  • Take better care of the grounds, fix the kitchen, and make it not seem like a nursing home. (I'm really curious about the "nursing home" part of that. Are these people asking for more knitting and crocheting? Do they want their medication dispensed to them by an RN? More wheelchairs and walkers? What does that mean?)

  • Security measures such as metal detectors and security guards. Bullet-proof glass would be an asset. (Good Lord, "bullet proof glass would be an asset"?! Clearly, this is an industry that really pisses people off a lot! And I'm dying to know what it is. But they seem to worry about people with metal items coming to harm them to the point they want metal detectors and security guards for protection.)
  • Fix the roof so it doesn’t leak. (Again, from those telecommuting out of a hut in the Sudan?)

  • Free parking. (What business makes their employees PAY to park? Who are those morons?)

  • Better vending machine selection. (This does not exist. They all suck.)

Blumberg and Buddies did this survey to figure out what impact an office building's conditions has on the attitudes of workers. They found that one fifth of the employees felt that their productivity and motiviation was decreased by the condition of their building. (That assessment coming from those who need a "nap room" during lunch and list "covered parking" as their most desired perk. Take it for what you want. I'm just saying.) No word on if they're going to start beefing up security, covering the parking spaces or adding a shuffleboard court in the cafeteria.

So, what have we learned? Not much, really. What I got out of all of this is that I never want to work for any of the companies that the surveyed people are working for. Oh, and I don't think I want to work for Blumberg either.

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