Shocking, I know, but free coffee is a disproportionate perk. So are other, similar things…
The sarcasm comes from firsthand experience. When I worked at the original incarnation of Corporate Software, initially there was not only free coffee - good free coffee, if nothing gourmet like the article mentions - but also hot chocolate, tea, and even Crystal Lite. It was one of those places to work. They also had extremely low cost soda.
The primary business there was software sales, and they pioneered what would become common ways of selling software licensing packages. I was in their secondary business of tech support, which they’d gotten into with great success and massive hiring, if not high margins.
One thing led to another. Corporate Software became Strean International became three companies, of which Stream was the one that sold tech support only, without the higher margin elements.
Fewer things were free. The good coffee became awful, but lower maintenance and more likely to be available on demand, coffee. Then there was no more cocoa…
Not the same as free coffee, but there was near mutiny when the free hot chocolate went away. That for people there at the time was the dividing line between the cool company and the company that just didn’t care about its people anymore. Such a little thing. Yet I’d swear it was the beginning of the end of the business. Not that it ever 100% ended, but it changed hands and eventually emerged as a company that doesn’t seem to have any connection with the past, at least from a long since outsider’s perspective.
Clearly the linked article is touting results promulgated by a company with a vested interest in self-promotion and sales of coffee. Certainly there are company cultures that aren’t as tied to expectations of certain kinds of perks as, for instance, ones employing tech workers may be. The basic point remains: Surprisingly minor ways in which you treat employees can mean a lot, all out of proportion to the cost.