Back in the day, people worked 8-hour days and then went home. Usually there was free coffee in the break room, and sometimes even donuts. Often, especially in advertising, executives got expense accounts and used them to take clients and staff out to dinner or drinks, which was considered a perk of the job.

Those days are gone. As the amount of time people spend at work has increased, so have their expectations of their jobs. The difficulty of recruiting certain positions has led to a bit of an arms race centered on coming up with creative ways to attract, and retain, talented people. Tech companies are particularly famous for offering perks such as game rooms, beer fridges, free gourmet meals, on-site yoga classes, and concierge services to take care of things like dry cleaning. These perks are making their way to non-tech companies as well. One perk that’s becoming both more common, and more controversial, is unlimited paid time off.

In theory, unlimited vacation sounds like a dream come true, but an informal poll of people with this benefit shows that while some people love it, others find it confusing and suspicious. Many people report that the culture of their company makes it difficult to take time off, and that unlike traditional vacation policies, they cannot cash out unused vacation time.

What other kinds of perks have backfired on companies? This article reveals a host of good intentions gone wrong, including a Thanksgiving turkey give-away that somehow turned into a shopping mall of expectations. And a supervisor who was upset about the size of his turkey. We’ll leave it at that.

If you’re looking to attract and retain top talent, it’s important that you understand the difference between a benefit and a perk. Perks are nice, but they’re extras. A benefit, as this article explains, is not an extra. A benefit is something that accounts for the long-term needs of your employees and their families. Healthcare is a benefit, Beer-Pong Friday is a perk.

If you’re looking for employees who understand the benefits of working for a great company like yours, let us know.

If you’re ready for a new challenge, and maybe a new lunch menu, check out our job board.