The Non-Definitive List of Things That Are Not ‘Generous Workplace Benefits’

Some employee ‘perks’ are rights, not privileges

Evan Wildstein
Index
Published in
4 min readNov 29, 2021

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Index: Nicola Barts/Pexels

I first became a tax-paying cog in the American workforce in the mid-1990s. I was a teenager, but I remember advertisements in newspaper job listings — you know, the prehistoric, paper version of Indeed — that sometimes included details about job perks beyond the salary.

Later, when I graduated college and began my career, I noticed many of those “perks” were still the same.

Some 20 years later, unsurprisingly, little has changed.

“Generous workplace benefits,” companies often proclaim. As if job-seekers are meant to read them and feel an overwhelming sense of urgency to drop everything and apply for those positions.

Benefits: Privileges or Rights?

What’s staggering is how tone-deaf many of these “benefits” appear, especially in light of the massive shifts we are seeing in the workplace — don’t worry, this isn’t another story about the great resignation.

But employers really can’t ignore the fact that the balance has shifted. Truly, it has been shifting for years, though the past 20 months have been remarkably eye-opening.

Keeping people employed in the 2020s for 1990s “perks” simply doesn’t cut it anymore.

The following are some things I have seen that scream at me. I’m pointing them out if for no other reason than to help job-seekers see red flags when they might not be obvious.

1. “A Safe, Nurturing Environment”

This one is simultaneously hideous and ironic. It feels like language that would appear in an employee handbook, alongside policies about confidentiality and whistleblowing.

Companies might as well say, “We offer all employees reasonable amounts of oxygen during the workday.”

If a company feels the need to claim that a safe, nurturing environment is a benefit, you have to wonder (and worry) about the culture.

A tip: When I see words like “safe” and “nurturing,” I think immediately about psychological safety — and lack thereof. If…

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Evan Wildstein
Index
Writer for

Words on work, organizational culture, and humor. More at https://evanwildstein.com.