Architectural firm Leonard Design offers a range of low-cost perks to its 80 employees, based around improving their working lives. John Morgan, director, says: “We spend a lot of time in the office so these should be fun, engaging and interesting places.”
Each Leonard Design employee is given £100 a year to spend as they see fit, with the only criteria being that it must make the organisation or office a better place to work.
“We had one person who bought a load of cheap £7 stools so people can use them if they want to sit at someone else’s desk,” says Morgan. “That’s something we would never have dreamt of buying, but it’s made a real difference to the way the team works.”
Others have bought books, light boxes, inflatable balls to help those with bad backs, or clubbed together to buy more expensive items such as coffee machines.
There is also a strong social element; Leonard Design bought a new boardroom table which converts into a table-tennis table, and also has a table-football table, both of which are put to good use on Friday afternoon at Beer o’clock, which starts at 4:30pm. It also regularly orders in pizzas, ice-cream or cold drinks to match the weather, and has a family day where all employees and their families bring food to a local park.
Other initiatives include a Pilates class delivered by a qualified member of staff, regular sessions where staff can watch and learn about architectural-related films, and a Friday morning brainstorming session over a bacon sandwich.
Low-cost but ad-hoc benefits work better than more formal schemes, says Morgan. “We have looked at benefits packages but you question whether people are going to use them and you can get into a cycle where they expect things, then you have to give them something else too,” he says. “Things like drinks, vouchers or Beer o’clock are smaller and more dynamic.”