Learn more about Zestful
March 10, 2020
Kate Marshall

Podcast: Why employee perks are not a salary replacement

Are employee perks really a new form of currency?

It might be better to first ask: Can a really excellent perks program take the place of the salary an employee deserves?

Uhhh, absolutely not.

Employee perks should be used as a way to go above and beyond for your employees—not to make them feel bad about asking for a raise. 😣

In the latest mini-episode of our series on Crafting Culture, I share some thoughts on going that extra step for your employees' happiness.

Quote from Kate Marshall of Zestful on employee perks - " Make sure whichever perks you land on provides actual value to the people on your team."

On top of paying a fair salary, here are a few ideas for recruiting and retaining talented employees:

  • Travel opportunities
  • Dress code flexibility
  • Remote work opportunities
  • Time off for volunteering opportunities
  • A bigger purpose to serve outside of their job description
  • A healthy and transparent work environment
  • Pile those perks on top of a (really) fair salary and see the talent roll in. 🤩

Have a listen:

Listen to this and all of the other Crafting Culture episodes on Apple PodcastsSpotify, or our blog.


Kate Marshall: Employee perks should be used to go above and beyond for your employees, not as a replacement for the salary each employee deserves.

Announcer: You’re listening to Crafting Culture. A podcast dedicated to helping CEOs, People Ops, and HR teams create an incredible company culture. If you’re looking for inspiration, practical advice, or tangible examples of what great culture looks like, then you’ve come to the right place. Let’s get into the show.

Kate: Welcome back to Crafting Culture. My name is Kate Marshall. I’m the Head of Content at Zestful and the host of the Perks series for Crafting Culture. Today we’re covering the topic of employee perks as a new form of currency. 

I saw a funny billboard the other day that said, “Your employees like kombucha on tap, but they love a 401k”. And honestly I couldn’t have said it better myself.

It makes sense that as a CEO, you think that salary is far and away the most important thing. And it is, but it also kind of isn’t. Let me elaborate. We recently had a new story done about us, and while the story itself was awesome, we had a hard time with the angle they took. The headline was, “Employers lure top talent with perks instead of high salaries”. 

This is absolutely not true, and not what we want to represent here at Zestful. Employee perks should be used to go above and beyond for your employees, not as a replacement for the salary each employee deserves.

So again, while nothing tops fair salary, along with things like insurance, and yes, 401k, there are some pretty big distinctions when it comes to what younger generations want when it comes to perks and other incentives. And companies need to listen up because this is the kind of talent they are going to want to attract and retain starting like, yesterday. 

Look, for these younger generations, employee perks doesn’t mean 15% off their cell phone bill, or $20 off at an already heinously expensive local gym. For them, valuable perks come in forms like: travel opportunities, flexibility in dress code and remote work, a purpose to connect to, and a healthy, open work environment. 

So one of my biggest points of advice for implementing incentive programs is to make sure whatever you land on provides actual value for the people on your team. And this includes every generation. 

One of the biggest hurdles with a perk program is engagement, and clear communication is key. You can’t go into a new incentive structure and expect everyone to want to use it, let alone know how to use it. Without proper instruction or guidelines, no one is going to care, and considering how much work it can take to implement something like this, that’s a huge bummer for the person doing the work.

Achieving the right mix of meaningful perks and pay isn’t a super simple task, but it is a necessary one. So just remember, communication is key. As long as you're really deliberate about over communicating, the more likely it is the programs you spend your time and energy to roll out will work out in your favor. If you want to chat more about employee perks  and the role they play in your overall benefits package, find me on LinkedIn by searching Kate Marshall Zestful. And if you’re not already subscribed to Crafting Culture, hit that subscribe button wherever you listen to your podcasts.

Announcer: 53% of employees today say having fringe benefits at work increases their quality of life. And when you get to say goodbye to the reimbursement process, your quality of life increases too. Zestful consolidates employee perks, rewards, and recognition all into one easy to use platform. See a special sneak peek of what your company can gain from Zestful’s employee perks software by visiting zestful dot com slash crafting culture. That’s z e s t f u l dot com slash crafting culture. Thanks for listening to Crafting Culture from Sweetfish Media. Whether it’s at the office or at home, here’s to getting better every single day. Let’s never stop learning.

What are you waiting for?

Trusted by companies and teams of all sizes.
Loved by teams at these great companies
© Copyright 2020, Zestful, Inc. All rights reserved.
Terms of Service | Privacy Policy