How Much is Too Much for Employees?

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I wanted to broach this question after seeing this article from Business Insider, which talks about how Evernote pays for housekeepers for their employees. Is that even a good idea? Throwing certain benefits into a compensation package is a fairly standard practice; having catered lunches, free swag now and again, and other little things to let your workers know that they are appreciated is great, but is there a limit to what you should give?

The story itself is fairly short, simply offering that Evernote does, indeed, offer around 250 of it’s workers paid-for housekeeping. An unnamed employee noted, “[The house cleaning] eliminates a decisions I have to make. It’s just happening and it’s good, and I don’t have to think about it.” The CEO, Phil Libin, explained, “Happy workers make better products. The output we care about has everything to do with your state of mind.”

To top it off, the company also offers employees $1,000 every year for a vacation. So, the question I pose is, is that too much? From a purely economic perspective, a business wants to pay and give as little compensation as possible for as much talent as possible. In the real world though, skilled workers require a higher salary, and often other benefits. Medical, dental, and a retirement plan are standard, but the kind of stuff we see in tech startups is doing something interesting to workers in the IT field.

My thought is that no longer is a job simply a job (mainly in IT, but in certain companies outside of that as well). A job is a means to pursue passion and work towards a common goal that you can relate to. That goal is going to make the CEO and stakeholders money, so naturally, you need to be paid. They demand a lot of skill and time, and in turn, you demand not only money, but other things that make your life more comfortable. Catered lunches, an office foosball table, and housekeeping come to mind.

It may be the case that skilled workers are demanding more, but at the same time, Libin came right out and said why they’re doing what they do. Keeping workers happy is essential to the health of a business. Ever wonder why service sucks at movie theaters? The popcorn makers earn minimum wage, so they give you minimum wage service. Give them stuff that keeps them happy and worry free, and the service improves. The same is true for any profession—no worries means a clean, clear mind that can tackle work related problems more efficiently.

So, is paying for your employee’s housekeeping giving too much? Naturally, it depends on your business and how much money you’re willing to part with benefits, but for Evernote, I say no. Do whatever you can to keep your workers working happily, and you’ll see a successful business.

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