Death to the ping pong table: The Aussie startups breaking the mould with employee perks

startup perks

Canva’s head of individuals Chris Low. Supply: Equipped.

Image this: it’s a brilliant sunny day within the workplace. You’re laborious at work, stretching to hit a deadline, head down and typing furiously.

Within the background, you hear it. A graceful and a thock, a hole click on, and a corresponding thock.

The co-founders are enjoying ping pong, once more.

If this appears like your workplace, that’s not shocking. Ping pong tables, beer on faucet, a slide between ranges — these tropes of startup tradition are sometimes spruiked by excited new founders, to the purpose the place they will take precedence to different, smart purchases, like a HR officer or a ladies’s rest room.

However whereas 20-something coders in trackpants and hoodies honking a 2pm beer may be the notion (and actuality) of a variety of Silicon Valley startups, many Aussie firms are bucking the development, opting as a substitute to introduce actual, useful perks for his or her staff.

Native success story Canva is considered one of them. The $3.5 billion design company lately moved into its model new workplaces in Sydney’s Surry Hills — a brilliant and spacious multi-storey constructing adorned with Indigenous artwork and fitted out with all the pieces a startup worker may need.

Whereas this does embody beer on faucet, Canva’s head of individuals (or ‘head of vibe’, as the corporate calls it), Chris Low, tells StartupSmart the corporate places a acutely aware give attention to providing perks to staff which create actual worth, somewhat than “gimmicky” ones.

“We’re working in direction of making a extra productive, partaking and galvanizing work atmosphere, which suggests steering away from gimmicky perks and looking out in direction of extra issues which encourage a powerful work-life steadiness,” he says.


A spot in Canva’s fluff-friendly workplace. Supply: Equipped.

Low’s view has been influenced by the errors made by leaders in Silicon Valley, even going as far as to make a journey there to talk to heads of individuals at different Canva-sized startups.

“They admitted these gimmicky perks have been a mistake of the previous, and really distracted from why individuals have been coming to work every day,” he says.

“You need your perks to draw the proper of individuals with the proper of attitudes, not the kinds of people that need particular tables only for enjoying beer pong on.”

Canva’s perks embody easy issues corresponding to worker yoga courses, an in-office health club, various workplace environments for employees and absolutely catered wholesome lunches. Canva’s workplace additionally eschews the first colour-oriented vibe of many massive tech firms, one thing Low says he’s no fan of.

“There’s one thing particularly gimmicky about developing areas with plenty of main colors to ‘activate your thoughts’. It’s surface-level psychology,” he says.

“We tried to design the Canva workplaces like we’d design our house.”

The startup additionally provides options for “life admin”, corresponding to important reductions for removing firms and rental automotive providers, so staff shifting domestically for work have a better time.

Staff are additionally given a price range in the event that they wish to set up a membership for his or her explicit curiosity or passion, with Chris pointing to Canva’s ‘cryptocurrency membership’ for example.

“We’ve acquired a variety of nerds right here,” he laughs

Floor-level perks are poor motivators

For a corporation the scale of Canva and with a whole crew devoted to the wellbeing of its staff, overseeing worker advantages is an element and parcel of the on a regular basis.

However more and more, smaller startups are additionally selecting to supply staff real perks. Heidi Holmes and Lucy Lloyd, co-founders of Mentorloop, inform StartupSmart they “don’t have a ping pong table and by no means will”.

“[It’s] extremely annoying to hearken to,” Lloyd says.

As a substitute, the 2 supply their staff perks targeted on making work a significant and fulfilling expertise, somewhat than simply having ‘enjoyable’. This consists of an uncapped studying and improvement price range for every worker, a very versatile working schedule (bar Mondays), and a day without work in your birthday.

MentorLoop co-founders Heidi Holmes and Lucy Lloyd. Source: Supplied.

MentorLoop co-founders Heidi Holmes and Lucy Lloyd. Supply: Equipped.

The founders and their crew are additionally at the moment on their yearly firm retreat, the place they “mirror on what we’ve completed, set targets for the subsequent quarter and rejoice the wins”.

“It’s essential we take day out to attach as a crew and luxuriate in every others firm,” Holmes says.

The 2 imagine the startup perk stereotypes are largely indicative of “bro tradition”, which will be alienating and counterintuitive when founders wish to construct various groups. Moreover, they are saying a model new ping pong table is a poor use of funds for any early-stage startup.

“Ping pong tables and beer could also be motivating within the quick time period — however they don’t seem to be sustainable motivators for individuals,” Lloyd says.

“They don’t construct an intrinsic attachment to the corporate, they usually don’t construct an intrinsic attachment to the imaginative and prescient of what you’re making an attempt to realize.”

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