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Respect and Ping Pong

Don’t kill office perks. But take care of the management fundamentals first.

August 6th, 2021

by Henry Poydar

in Newsletter

“RIP Ping-Pong. The Era of Wacky Office Perks Is Dead,” declares the somewhat clickbait-ish headline from a recent Fast Company article.

Instead, the post goes on to report, a study shows that workers between 21-34 would rather have respect in the form of transparent communication with their superiors. The research referenced in the article cites two types of respect: “respectful engagement,” which refers to being a good member of the team and doing a good job; and “autonomous respect,” which has to do with feeling respected for who you are beyond your position.

Of course, any collaborating human seeks this of their peers and superiors. I’ll go even further and say that cultivating an environment of mutual respect is table stakes for a manager. And on the other hand, toxic teams always have elements of disrespect and mistrust as key ingredients.

So what’s wrong with arcade machines and weekly massages?

Nothing. There’s no reason for mutual exclusivity here. In fact, high-performing teams use perks to signal that they are concerned for their employee’s overall well-being. No HR pro thinks they’ll retain people who feel disrespected as long they pick up their dry cleaning. People want to be respected and trusted both directly and indirectly. And that’s when they do their best work.

So keep the ping pong table. Fund the yoga classes. Stay “wacky.” Just make sure you pay attention to the management fundamentals of transparent communication and fostering trust, or it’s all for naught.

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I'm Henry Poydar, founder of Status Hero. I've been writing software and leading both co-located and remote software teams for 20+ years.

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