Gelato or no gelato? In a work-from-home world, what are the perks your employees really want?


It’s a question that’s plagued many a business owner throughout the COVID-19 pandemic: How on earth do I keep a remote workforce happy? Well, the answer lies in free lunch and discounted technology, according to employee experience startup Perkbox.

When COVID-19 caused a mass shift to working from home and remote meetings, Perkbox also had to quickly update its offerings to cater for the new normal we find ourselves in.

Last November, before the world was turned upside-down, Perkbox unveiled the workplace perks most often utilised on its platform, by employees of the 250 companies it works with. Now, it’s collated some COVID-19-era data to see what employees want in the way of workplace perks when they’re working from home.

So, in a post-COVID-19 world, what’s changed? First and foremost, not much.

In November, the number one perk was free lunch at a local cafe once a month. As of today, that’s still the case.

Out to lunch

They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but when it gets you away from the kitchen table and out into the world, if only for an hour, it seems employees will take you up on it anyway.

And, if it means taking some much-needed cash to a local business, we can’t argue with that.

However, the formerly second-most popular perk was a free gelato every month, followed by premium access to a top mindfulness app, discounts on groceries and discounts at online retailers. In a work-from-home landscape, that line-up has shifted.

Now, there’s no interest in gelato, which has — shockingly — dropped out of the top-five-most-desired perks altogether.

Instead, the second-most-utilised perk is discount on technology from major retailers, suggesting people want iPads and Xboxes, not sorbet with sprinkles.

Predictably, employees are also making use of discounted access to online fitness classes.

Discounts for online shopping still come in fourth place, followed by free access to a mindfulness app.

“We thought we would never see the day where a free gelato each month is dethroned as a top workplace perk in Australia,” Perkbox Australia country manager Ben Leeds said in a statement.

Top perks are “no-brainers”

However, he admitted the rest of the top five don’t come as much of a surprise, given the circumstances.

“The liberal use of discounts on technology products makes sense, and we would assume most of it would be for home office equipment. Home fitness classes during COVID-19 are also a no-brainer.

“The free lunch each month can be redeemed through a long list of participating venues and can be a pre-ordered takeaway meal, which is why it continues to remain dominant,” he explained.

However, on a serious note, he stressed that workplace perks are just one part of employee experience. At this time of uncertainty, building a strong company culture beyond this is more important than ever.

“The company culture budget may be the first thing in the firing line for cost cutting during this pandemic. But we would warn companies against this,” he said.

“Company culture isn’t tied to your office. With remote working, it’s even more important to promote the overall well-being of your employee and, crucially, measure the sentiment of your staff when making decisions.”

Perkbox’s most-used perks pre-COVID-19:

  1. A free lunch every month from a local cafe
  2. A free gelato every month
  3. Free premium access to a top Australian mindfulness app
  4. Discounts on groceries from major supermarkets
  5. Discounts on clothes and accessories from online retailers


Perkbox’s most-used perks during COVID-19:

  1. A free lunch every month from a local cafe
  2. Discounts on technology products from major retailers
  3. Discounted access to online fitness classes
  4. Discounts on clothes and accessories from online retailers
  5. Free premium access to a top Australian mindfulness app


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