A Private Island Perk: Novelty or Necessity?
Imagine clocking out of work and heading to a private island owned by your employer. That’s the reality for the employees at Mon Technicien, a Montreal-based IT services company. The company recently bought a 930-square-metre island in the Laurentian Mountains, complete with a chalet and water sport equipment.
For many, it sounds like a dream come true. But it also sparks a bigger question: Why do companies feel the need to go to such extremes to make work meaningful? is this truly what attracts people these days and keep us engaged?
The Upside and the Hurdles of A Private Island
Employees now have an exotic private island to relax and de-stress. A cabin in the midst of nature can do wonders for mental health. The company also plans to replace gas-powered energy systems with solar panels, taking a step towards a greener future. Employees get a unique place to unwind, and the company moves towards a sustainable model.
However, getting to the island is no easy feat. Employees need to operate small watercraft, and soon, they’ll need licenses for larger boats. Despite these challenges, the island perk seems popular, at least on the surface.
Let’s zoom out and consider the broader picture. Companies have long offered perks like free food, gym memberships, dry cleaning, yoga and more to boost employee morale. But does owning an island tackle the root cause of workplace dissatisfaction and burnout? The point is, we’re missing something vital here: purposeful work.
Why Not Tie in Purpose?
What if companies focused on building relationships and opening up communication channels to create meaningful work, rather than offering eye-catching perks? For example, for a company specializing in educational technology, why not establish a partnership with local schools? Employees could regularly interact with teachers and students to understand real-world needs. They could then bring this firsthand knowledge back to improve the software or services they offer. And also create strong partnerships with the local community.
An agribusiness could team up with local farmers to implement innovative farming techniques. Employees can spend time on the farm, learn about the needs and work on real opportunities. The direct exposure could result in new products and a workforce who see the tangible outcomes of their work.
What about a furniture-making company? Could it set up a program where young craftspeople from underserved communities, for example, can come in, learn the trade, and even contribute new design ideas? This setup enriches the work experience for regular employees too, as they get to share their craft, adding a layer of meaning to their job.
Mon Technicien’s island is a great headline-grabber, but the novelty may wear off. Companies need to dig deeper into the actual needs of their employees. Do they have meaning and balance? Are they engaged? Employee morale comes from a mix of factors, not just glamorous perks.
While a private island may serve as an enticing perk, companies would do well to focus on the core issues at hand: making work fulfilling and meaningful. After all, a getaway to an island is great, but it’s not a substitute for finding meaning and balance in everyday life. Most of us would love an opportunity to become a part of something bigger, something that makes a real difference.