Coffee. More specifically – free coffee at work. Human Resources Pufnstuf wrote a great post on whether free coffee at work was a benefit or entitlement. When I first read it, I was like…hmmm…what’s my two-cents on this? The post inspired me to share my thoughts on the subject.
As I was trying to figure out where my head was on this matter, I reached for the dictionary to guide me on the definition of benefit and entitlement.
Benefit: a service (as in health insurance) or right (as to take vacation time) provided by an employer in addition to wages or salary
Entitlement: a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract
So, by definition, things like sick pay and holiday parties are benefits. Workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance are entitlements. That would clearly put coffee in the benefit category.
But not so fast…just for argument sake, look at the definition of entitlement again. Every day we remind managers not to use terms like “permanent employees” for fear of implying an employment contract. Is it possible that, over the course of time, businesses have inadvertently turned benefits (like coffee) into entitlements?
I’m never been completely comfortable with blaming the entitlement mentality on employees. I mean, if managers are clearly setting expectations, then wouldn’t employees know which things are benefits and which are entitlements?
The marketer in me thought back to my childhood when hotels would boldly advertise FREE TV on their signs. Now, we couldn’t envision any hotel room without a television. It’s become the new normal, right? But, guess what . . just about every hotel still advertises in-room televisions on their web sites.
Now might be the time to look at your organization. What do you think? What would you say employees are entitled to? Join in on the discussion, won’t you?
Image courtesy of kwerfeldein