Are These Company Perks Designed to Get You to Work Longer Hours?

By Chelsea Babin

When you’re applying to a company or interviewing with a company, they’ll often share their list of benefits in order to entice you and make you want to work for them. Benefits are a great form of non-monetary compensation that can help with your healthcare costs, saving for retirement, your work/life balance, and so much more. But some employees are starting to wonder if certain, more modern company perks are designed specifically to get them to work longer hours. Here are a few of the benefits that people are concerned about.

1. Onsite Chef/Full Service Cafeteria: From Google to Facebook and beyond, many companies have started to offer the services of an onsite chef or full service cafeteria. Free food is a beloved incentive and, when it comes in the form of free snacks, free breakfast, or free lunch it’s well within the boundaries of a normal workday. However, when you start to see that the cafeteria or chef is around 24/7, that may be a warning sign that the company will expect you to regularly work long hours. If you’re not looking for that kind of time commitment, look for companies that offer free breakfast, lunch, or snacks, that way you get the free food without the strings attached.

2. Paid Cellphone: Whether it’s a credit towards your cellphone plan, a separate work phone, or just a free phone with free service, many companies are offering paid cellphones as a perk. However, some people worry that accepting this perk will mean that they’re on-call at all times. The strings attached to this perk may or may not be there, depending on the company you work for, but typically if a company wants their employees on-call, they’ll have that expectation regardless of whether or not you take advantage of their paid cellphone benefit. And, if a company doesn’t typically expect employees to be on call, they may still offer this perk. If you’re unsure, ask about on-call policies when you’re in your interview or before you accept your job offer.

3. Laundry Service: Who wants to spend their free time doing laundry? Almost no one. That’s why a lot of companies have started to offer a laundry service as a free perk to all of their employees. Does this mean that they expect you to take the time you would otherwise be doing laundry and work for them instead? Not necessarily. This perk isn’t designed to trade time doing one chore for time working, but it could be indicative of a company that regularly expects employees to work long hours. It could also just be indicative of a company that is empathetic to everyone’s weekend laundry woes. In this scenario, you probably won’t know which one it is until you’re on the job or until you’re able to talk to someone in the department you’re joining about what their typical workweek looks like.

4. Unlimited PTO: This benefit can be an absolute work/life balance savior but new research shows that it may lead to employees taking less time off. Why? A lot of people feel guilty taking time off when it’s unlimited, which doesn’t happen as often when there are a set number of days. However, most companies that offer unlimited PTO encourage their employees, particularly their productive ones, to take full advantage of this policy. If you’re afraid you’ll be too gun-shy to take days off when you have unlimited PTO, set yourself a normal amount of PTO days and pretend that those are your limits or avoid this perk all together.

5. Game Consoles or Game Tables: When used correctly, these perks can be a great way to let off some steam, bond with your coworkers, and take a much needed break before getting back to work. However, many employees worry that their coworkers won’t work as hard because they’ll always be at the foosball or ping pong table, and their own plate of projects will be overloaded because of this time waster. This perk should be analyzed on a case-by-case basis and, unfortunately, you won’t know how your coworkers use or abuse it until you’re actually on the job. In most scenarios, management that implements game consoles or game tables in the workplace know how to keep employees in check so that their work gets done and this perk still brings in a lot of fun!

As the unemployment rate shrinks, companies are starting to offer more and more creative benefits to draw top talent to their workplace. While some people are worried that these new company perks are designed to make them work longer hours, that usually isn’t the case. If a certain perk concerns you, ask the right questions in your interview or ask someone who works there how things really are so you can get a better idea of whether that perk disguises longer days at work or if it’s just a great benefit!