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Creating a more casual workplace

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in Leaders & Managers,Office Management,Workplace Communication

Q. I run a small insurance brokerage with 14 employees. They keep reading articles about “hip” companies that let people bring their dogs to work or who have concierges who pick up dry cleaning, etc. They keep asking if I’ll offer the same kind of perks. I say “no,” because we have customers come and go all day, and I’d like to maintain a professional office atmosphere. But now I feel like an ogre. What should I do?

A. There’s nothing wrong with saying “no” if you explain your reasoning to your employees. But that doesn’t mean they will agree with you. So restore goodwill with a bit of give and take. Ask each of your employees to list the top three perks that they would like. Set parameters (such as their suggestions must cost the company no more than a certain amount). Now tabulate the responses and identify the most requested perks. Share the results with everyone, and approve at least one of the benefits they’ve asked for. Rather than issue outright refusals on the other suggestions, share your reservations and invite your employees to address them. Maybe they can come up with a more realistic or cost-effective way for you to say “yes.” Regardless of the outcome, you’ll show that you care about accommodating them whenever possible and that you’re willing to level with them when you cannot.

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