“Underneath” the Ping Pong Table at Work

The writers of this year’s Fortune 100 Best Places to Work issue summarize many of the perks offered by listed companies which prompts me to ask:
What is your favorite perk at work?
Maybe it’s free gourmet food like at Google ( #1 )?
Maybe a gym and rock climbing wall at Acuity ( #9 )?
Maybe on-site dry cleaning, pharmacy, childcare like SAS ( #15 )?

In my opinion, since the dawn of time … okay, since the dawn of “work time”… people have craved three essential needs at work: meaning, belonging and ownership. Here’s how I think these are present in Great Places to Work:
1. meaning: comes out of work that serves a purpose
2. belonging: fulfilled when achievements are bigger than ourselves
3. ownership: realized when given credit for progress and success

What we need from work is the same as what we need from life. That’s why great companies resemble strong families. Both provide “room and board” ( perks ), but the less talked about element is love.
Back to 100 Best Places; in business … just a hunch here … but in most cases love is the driving force behind ping pong tables, etc. More pointedly, love that comes from executive leadership. They write the checks, you know? OK, but why do I call it love? It is because those leadership gestures are visible symbols, not unlike a bouquet of flowers to a loved-one or the preparation of a favorite meal for a family. In business the gestures are designed to simplify life (on-site laundry or daycare), inspire fun and community ( ping-pong ), add meaning (paid days off for community service ) and ensure personal growth ( training ).
Finally, the bottom line “perk” from loving your people? The cumulative total returns ( 1998 – 2016 ) by DoingWellWhileDoingGood companies compared to S&P 500?: 713% to 229%. That’s what’s under the ping pong tables – leaders giving clarity and visibility to meaning, belonging and ownership.

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