Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Eggs are nice, but what about the sides?

I've just read the news of Apple getting ready to offer to pay for the costs of freezing eggs for their female employees beginning in January 2015. Facebook has offered the benefit since January of this year.
Perhaps you are overloaded with egg talk by now, and a little bit grossed out. I don't oppose a woman's choice to freeze or not to freeze her eggs, to be life-Shakespearean about it, but I have a very vivid imagination and the image that is stuck on my mind is this:
Matrix anybody?
The benefit is great and, I believe, will help a number of women who know their optimal child-bearing years rival their crucial career-growth years, especially in an industry few women already belong to. The pressure or competition cannot help when trying to start a family. Therefore, good move Apple and Facebook! Kuddos for supporting working women who also want to be mothers later in life.
Meanwhile, the rest of us working ladies, maybe still single and 30 as well, are left to figure out if or when kids will come. Without having the benefit of a paid egg-freezing "perk" there are certainly other benefits that can make employees happy. Some fancier ones are being adapted at more and more organizations, but these are basic full-time office work benefits we all should have:
Unlimited Vacation Time
Let's face it, you want it, I want it, our bosses want it. Unlimited vacation can work and has been proven to work. It is the most trust-building benefit you can give any employee because he or she must prove their management abilities and deliver. Coming from an employee with three weeks of vacation, which is already considered a lot, I can assure you no company will go bankrupt by offering this perk. Some people love to or have to travel, like myself, and other people don't like to leave their home as often. Unlimited vacation is a solution that can make a company look very good to employees while giving them peace of mind, knowing they can make it to that spring wedding, the summer vacation with family, Thanksgiving with grandma, and Christmas with the folks, without taking unpaid time-off, or enjoy a staycation three or more times each year.
Company Matching Plus
Whether it means matching your charitable or retirement fund contributions, company matching can encourage employees to give back or save- and then some. Matching contributions can also go the extra mile by offering an additional percentage if an employee gives the maximum amount allowed for a contribution, or provide recognition or rewards for steady and growing contributions. Being good to employees and encouraging them to be good towards others and their own future is good business. When we, the laborers, feel appreciated, we appreciate our work and do it better.
Internal and External Education 
This particular benefit boggles my mind because there are so many companies that restrict the amount they are willing to give their employees, their talent, to advance their education and become more valuable assets. Something as simple as a one-day workshop or conference can be considered educational advancement. Don't let yourself be limited by the general restrictions all employees at your job face for education. Suggest in-house trainings to HR; negotiate a conference or course with your boss to get a higher, or the whole amount, paid by your company; offer to pay for the course but get a review-recognition in exchange on your record if your organization has a zero budget for education. How can you defend these petitions? With a simple argument: you are willing to improve yourself to improve your work and improve the company, or find a company that appreciates this dedication. Loyalty is not an easy quality to find in prospective employees, but it is an excellent selling point for you to offer.
The Most Important 
All of the benefits mentioned are great and should be offered everywhere, but the most important benefit that will keep you at your job is intangible: values.
A job can pay you well, give you free food, pile on bonuses and offer you freebies, but at the end of the day, when your head hits the pillow, if your heart is not swelling with joy over the greatness that is your job then chances are your company's values might be to blame. Do you fully believe in what you are selling/building/curing/arguing? Did you imagine yourself at your job when you started your first class in college or technical school? Have you become monotonous at work and follow a routine, rather than find new ways to do things? Don't worry, these questions are not followed by "there is a pill for that."
It is true that not all of us can have our dream jobs, the realities and costs of life lead us to safe, stable, work opportunities that can be fulfilling in their own ways. Still, not trying or searching for that professional activity you feel will make your life better is a disservice to you and those around you. When I was a sophomore in college I got my second college internship at MTV, my friends and family were elated. I continuously got asked, "how did you land that?!" and after three weeks of saying, "I wrote a great essay," or "I applied to different jobs" or "I speak three languages" I grew tired and offended by the question and just replied, "I tried." There were no follow-up queries to that answer.
Life is far from idyllic, but countless of opportunities go unacknowledged each day because people grow tired of trying. So, try.
Offer new ideas at your current job, go back to that hobby you loved so much, get a part time job in the field you are truly passionate about, head to the gym, volunteer, write a book even if it may never get published. Try.
The biggest work benefit any company can give us is a personal and professional value of worth. Without it no employee will truly excel in any position.
Eggs are certainly nice, but so are the sides.
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