Somewhere out there, a millennial is looking for a job. Okay, probably thousands of millennials are looking for jobs right now, but for the love of drama, let’s imagine just one. We’ll call him Bob. So, right now Bob is struggling through the Craigslist ads and the Careerbuilder posts. Poring over every website for his every dream company in hopes an opening will appear. And then, he sees it:

  • Come work in a fun environment with plenty of freedom!
  • Great benefits, including unlimited beer in the fridge and all the candy you can eat!
  • Central location near the hottest restaurants for your lunch break!
  • Fully stocked game room where you can blow off steam!
  • Monthly team bonding trips! Go bowling, roller-skating, karaoke-ing, and all kinds of other stuff!
  • Small team of the funnest, funniest, craziest, happiest, most excited people you’ll ever meet!

And Bob says to himself, “That sounds like my dream job!” And wow, does it ever. Except, what does he actually know about the job? This is what we call beer-fridge branding, and way too many companies are guilty of marketing their jobs with these perks.

Who Could It Hurt?

You may want to know who, exactly, suffers when you practice beer-fridge branding for your company. After all, your business looks fun, fresh, and creative. Even clients would be hard-pressed to find fault with your employees enjoying a beer and some candy while planning their marketing strategy for the next quarter.

The problem is that your new employees know nothing about your company except that you offer unlimited beer from day one. Sure, they may know you’re a marketing firm, or that you’re a web design company, but what else do they know? Even if you laid out the daily tasks and explained the expectations in the job advertisement, that beer fridge likely overshadowed everything. Every new employee will begin with the understanding that work life is more about the party and less about the actual work.

Who does that hurt? Both the new employee and your company. See, Bob may walk to the fridge before noon on his first day and grab his first beer. Why shouldn’t he? He may challenge someone to a game of Ping-Pong or Cornhole and have the time of his life. In fact, his first few weeks of at your company may just be the best work experience of his life. Until the deadline arrives and there’s nothing to show the client.

Where It All Went Wrong

When you emphasize the fun and frivolity—the work-hard, play-hard environment—you’re undermining the importance of your work. You’re opening your doors to employees who want the unlimited Reese’s Cups but not the responsibility of managing accounts. One day, you’ll look up and see your whole team playing instead of working, and you’ll have no one to blame but yourself. Your beer-fridge branding will simply draw the wrong type of employee every time.

Does that mean there’s anything wrong with supplying beer and candy? Does it mean you can’t laugh together as a team or take time away from work for bowling or street hockey? Of course not. But those employees should be there for the job first and the fun second. If they’re not,  you’ll replace your employees as often as you replace the beers in the fridge.

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