Office perks are intended to keep employees happy and provide a more comfortable office environment that they actually want to spend time in. They also serve as a way for companies to show off their cool office vibes and amazing company culture, in hopes of recruiting and retaining young talent.

  • Employees increasingly value experiences over things.
  • Be intentional with the office perks you provide.
  • Volunteer events enhance company culture and increase employee retention and recruitment.

Office perks are intended to keep employees happy and provide a more comfortable office environment that they actually want to spend time in. They also serve as a way for companies to show off their cool office vibes and amazing company culture, in hopes of recruiting and retaining young talent.

In the past decade, perks such as in-office baristas, happy hours, nap pods, slides and, of course, the classic ping pong table have become common and a bit cliché.

Although those things are great for posting pics on social media, at the end of the day, they are just things. There’s a greater opportunity to be more intentional and provide office perks with a purpose.

Fast Company recently polled more than 100 directors and managers and found more than 70 percent of respondents say that their employees value experiences over things, or at least a combination of the two.

Some examples of experiences as perks:

  • Mattel gives employees paid time off for their kids’ school field trips.
  • TOMS sends every employee on an international giving trip to distribute shoes after one year of employment.
  • Airbnb encourages employees to travel by providing a $2,000 annual travel stipend.
  • Companies such as Salesforce, REI, Patagonia and Timberland all offer paid time off for employees to spend time volunteering throughout the year.

The best part about the Mattel, TOMS and Airbnb examples is that their perk aligns with their companies’ missions and values. The same should go for your real estate brokerage or company.

Perks are meant to keep employees happy, and as we know, volunteering makes people happy, so providing opportunities to volunteer is increasingly becoming the new standard.

Volunteering together as a company has been shown to increase employee retention and engagement. It can bring your company closer together and help serve the surrounding community — it’s the ultimate win-win.

As the team at Giveback Homes has worked with a variety of brokerages and real estate companies around the country, we’ve gotten to see how great our build days can be for team building and a perk worth investing in. It takes people completely out of their element and allows them to interact in new ways.

This year, we worked with The Agency, Concierge Auctions, DocuSign and Related Realty in Chicago on some fantastic build day experiences. Our next adventure is a three-site build day in Sacramento with ReferralExchange. It makes sense because they’re all in the business of homes.

“It’s nice to work somewhere that motivates employees to give back. It was a lot of fun and very rewarding to be able to volunteer with everyone from the office,” said Michael Zisk, video editor at Concierge Auctions.

As we’ve produced more of these events, we’ve learned a lot about what makes a successful volunteer day, so whether you plan one with us, or with another organization, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Build excitement ahead of time

Some people might have hesitation about signing up. They might think it will be hard work or they won’t know what to do. It can be helpful in office meetings to have someone who has done one before or have key leadership show enthusiasm and excitement.

Schedule a kick-off meeting or party to showcase all the information, pass out T-shirts to wear to the event and get people excited.

Make it easy for everyone to participate

Schedule the event during a normal work day. Shut down the office if you have to. This is a perk for your agents and employees, so it should be scheduled during a normal work day. And make sure to provide them the opportunity to suggest their own volunteer event ideas.

Take a survey, before and after your event, to identify what worked and what they’d like to see more of next time.

Foster new connections and education

Mix up your teams throughout the day. This can help create new connections and relationships and provide people with a more varied experience.

Also at our events we usually have a Habitat for Humanity staff member speak to our group at lunch to share details about current programs and answer questions. People love details and want to know who they are helping and why it matters.

Capture it all

It’s worth it to hire a photographer or videographer to capture the event. Not only will the participants appreciate it, but it can also provide great content for a new hire or company ethos video, company newsletters, office meetings, annual or quarterly reports and marketing materials explaining the company’s social good efforts.

Make the pictures and videos available for participants to share with their social networks and remind them of all the good they did.

Keep the good feeling going

Wrap up the day with a celebratory happy hour. Pizza and beer usually works well, or a group dinner. This gives everyone a chance to share war stories and key takeaways.

With one successful volunteer event under their belts, employees will be motivated for the next one. So ride the momentum, and make sure you’re ready to share ideas or details for the next event.

Follow us on Instagram to see images of some of the build days we’ve facilitated for companies around the country.

Caroline Pinal helped create Giveback Homes to empower the real estate industry to turn their everyday business into an opportunity #forsocialgood. Follow her on Twitter

Email Caroline Pinal

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