What Do You Consider A Good Workplace Perk?

I have a title for a blog post that I’ve been wanting to write for a while. I don’t quite have the content to go with it yet. I’ve been wanting to write a post about “When Companies Believe Their Own BS.”

Have you ever worked for a company that went on and on about how great it was? It told you how kind it was to the employees, how great it was to the community, and how everybody working there loved it. Yet you thought you were the odd person out. You didn’t get it.

I wondered about this with my last company. The one that let me go last Thursday. I’m not bitter; seriously, I’m not. I’m glad they kept me around as long as they did.

I’m curious about why the company built itself up over certain perks. I did like and benefit from the free coffee. It was the first place I’ve worked where I didn’t have to pay dues to a coffee mess or bring my own coffee. They also paid entirely for a picnic every summer and for a “holiday party” in December. But, the company only gave employees 7 paid holidays a year. That’s right; we had a great Christmas party, but we had to work on Black Friday.

Employees started with 10 vacation days a year. After 5 years of service, you get 12. Wow, 12 days a year off! What am I going to do with all that spare time? You can almost make up for the 10 paid holidays other companies in this industry offer after 5 years of service and those 2 extra days!

On top of that, any readers I have know how much I hated my cubicle. Seriously, I would rather have a quiet and secluded place to work than an open bar at the Christmas party. I can’t work effectively when I’m surrounded by noise and distraction and I feel like I’m in a fishbowl. I don’t like being snuck up on. Micro-MAN-ager had a habit of coming up behind me and grabbing my shoulders. When I was concentrating on something, it took a lot of willpower not to come up swinging. I’d rather had a desk facing the door than a free picnic in the summer.

What do you consider a good workplace perk? What kind of silly ways does your company claim to be the greatest that you don’t get the point of?

How Wrong Is This?

I used to have a Google AdSense account. It got suspended for “click fraud”. Basically, one day while I was looking at my own blog, I noticed some Google ads that interested me, so I clicked on them. Google then suspended my account for click fraud. I appealed, Google denied my appeal.

So, imagine my surprise when I uploaded a new blog post and saw the following:

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Figure 1. Ads By Google

So, let me get this straight. Google suspended my AdSense account because I clicked on two or three ads on my page. But Google is still running ads on my blog through a 3rd party (Addify).

I’m not entirely opposed to it. One thing I like about Google ads is that they are targeted. That’s why I clicked on the two or three ads that got me banned for “click fraud”. They were targeted to the posts I was writing, therefore obviously I was interested in them.

Why Do Companies Make It Harder Than It Has to be to Apply for a Job?

Before I go any farther in this post, I’ll state that I will do what needs to be done to pay the bills. If that requires getting back into another soul-sucking 8 hour a day cubicle job, then I will. But not if it can be avoided.

Except for one year (1998-1999), I’ve spent my entire adult career either in or around the U.S. Navy. It’s been a good run. But there are a lot of needless inefficiencies built into the Navy, and into many of the contracting companies that support the Navy.

I’ve been looking for a job since November. I’ve avoided mentioning it just in case anybody from my previous job might stumble across my blog. But I’ve been looking ever since just before I got fired from my original position. I continued looking while I was stuck in a stuffy cubicle working from Micro-MAN-ager.

I’ve come to realize that, unless you absolutely HAVE to put food on the table right now, the degree of difficulty in applying for a job just MIGHT be a sign of the difficulty DOING the job.

Some jobs have been easy to apply for. I come across the job on Monster or Dice, or even Careerbuilder. I click “Apply Now”. I’m taken to a page asking which resume I want to use, and if I want to include a cover letter. I make those decisions, and click another button. Then I’m done. I get an email confirmation.

But some companies make it really hard. First, you have to register at yet another job site. God help you if you’ve already registered and can’t remember your password, because you can’t use your email account again (Comcast is the worst offender I’ve come across in this regard). Then you have to upload your resume. THEN, after your resume is uploaded, you have to copy and paste your work history and education into text blocks. Even though this information is already on your resume, you have to type it in again.

The government is horrible. Trying to apply for a job through USA Jobs is a nightmare. OK, not all. Some are relatively easy, but I have yet to find an agency that is tied into USA Jobs and can take your resume from the main site. Normally, you find a job on USA Jobs and are taken to another site to apply for the job. This requires creating an account and inputting your information. Some aren’t bad. Applying for a civilian IT job for the Army was actually easy. The Navy makes it almost impossible to apply for a job. I couldn’t get past the first step in the process to apply for a civilian job for the Navy. I put in a trouble ticket. I found out (which shouldn’t surprise me) that I can’t apply because I’m not using Internet Explorer 6, which is the official web browser of the United States Navy.

So, let me ask you: if it’s a pain in the neck just to APPLY for a job, once you get in, do you think you’ll find a massive bureaucracy that makes it nearly impossible to actually do the job?