An Example of Effective Evaluation
So, you're staring at the long list of 'perks' a modern company is offering. It's incredibly easy to get sucked into the enthusiasm of the company or recruiter, but don't just accept the job with the most cool points! Take an hour to carefully consider if these bonuses will actually enhance your working life.
Everyone prefers a different work environment, so make sure you do some soul searching before you settle on where to spend up to 90% of your waking hours. Personally, I have spent 9 years working from a home office and I put a lot of value on natural light, color, and silence. A beige cube farm is not my idea of a productive environment, but neither is a noisy 'open concept' office. Of course, office environment can be mitigated by flexible scheduling. If I can do 80% of my work from a home office and simply go in for meetings, the cube I'm rarely in would make very little difference. Figure out what's important to you, and the environmental factors required to do your best work. Then reevaluate that 'cool' office & ask as many questions as it takes to form a good mental picture of what your average work week would look like.
These are probably the easiest perks to evaluate. Salary + Bonus is simple enough to compare between companies, but don't forget the other things that impact your personal bottom line!
Do they pay for insurance? What would your contribution be for you, or you + spouse, or all 8 of your kids? How does the coverage look? It's not a bad idea to look over your medical expenses for the previous year and figure out what they would have been under the plan being offered. Will it save you money or cost more?
401k match? What percentages will they add to your retirement? Maybe they have other retirement options that would better suit your needs!
Is charity important to you? Maybe you want to look for a company willing to match charitable donations!
Financial benefits are fairly cut and dry, but it's worth doing some math and figuring out if you really are getting ahead.
This is probably the most difficult category of perks to objectively measure. The value of a yoga class will depend a lot on whether or not you enjoy yoga. A beer fridge sounds great, but I know that I get sleepy after beer. I would probably never actually drink a beer while at the office. Oh cool, A video game system! But wait, I'm pretty social and spend most lunches out with co-workers... when would I ever use that system?
Spend some time thinking about what perks you would actually use. I've found that this dramatically narrows most benefit lists and gives a much clearer idea of what you would personally gain by working for company A over company B.
Perks : Culture :: Clothes : Personality
Keep in mind, just because you may not use something you office offers, the offering itself can tell you a lot about where the culture focus lies. As I mentioned above, I probably wouldn't grab a beer while working on a spread sheet. However, it's still a great indication that nobody would cast judgment if I had one cocktail at a lunch meeting. I may not play video games in the office, but I like knowing that nerdier hobbies wouldn't be looked down on by the bulk of my co-workers. Just like clothing can give you a glimpse of someone's personality, every benefit offered gives you an idea of the company 'feel'.
So whether you're shopping for your next job, or wondering what you could offer staff in order to attract more talent, remember that perks are only perks if people find value in them.
(I mean, who's really going to ride a segway to their meeting?)