Tech Employees Don’t Want Your Fancy Perks

March 15, 2016

12:32 pm

With the demand for tech talent always on the rise, companies are always on the lookout for ways to keep their employees happy and engaged. From on-site gyms to unlimited vacation to company activities, there seems to be an array of options to reward and retain staff. The problem? Your employees don't always want them.

If you're hiring smart employees, they're likely able to figure out that these “free” perks are actually not free. Someone is paying for them, and that someone is your employees, quickly leading to dissatisfaction or unhappiness if they're denied a bonus or a raise at the end of the year. So, you're telling me you can afford to have a free yoga class (that I don't attend) every week but you can't afford giving me a raise?

Speaking with job seekers in the tech space on a daily basis, it seems like there's a serious gap between what employers offer and what employees really want. Most of these so called “perks” actually benefits the employer rather than employee. According to a study by Project: Time Off, unlimited vacation policies actually save companies nearly $2K per employee, per year. Why? Unlimited policies actually don't encourage employees to take time off. Because all of the accountability is on the employee to be wise with their vacation days, they tend to use less.

An unlimited vacation policy is flawed. It's like gathering all your employees and executives in a conference room and handing one employee a bag of chips. You tell them they can take as much as they want, then pass the bag to the next employee. With all eyes on them, it certainly would be allowed for them to pour out the entire bag and pass an empty bag to the next person. You did tell them they could take all they wanted, after all. Instead of taking all they want, they'll instead take much less – leaving the company with some chips left over.

The standard vacation policy is instead going around and evenly distributing chips to all. Some may not eat every chip, some may. The point is no one will be judged for taking ‘more than their share'.

The gap widens when we start to look at the reasons for employees leaving. According to Deborah Vazquez, CEO of staffing firm PROTECH:

“There may be somewhat of a disconnect between employers and employees when it comes to reasons for parting ways. Both agree that compensation is the primary reason; but the percentages vary significantly with 73 percent of employers citing salary as key reason, compared to 38 percent of employees.”

Although salary is important, clearly there are other factors, like work-life balance, in play that keep an employee from seeking employment elsewhere. It seems that instead of fancy coffee machines, company trips, indoor basketball, and free beer, employees just want to spend more time at home, rather than work. “Telecommuting and flexible work schedules are becoming more popular with the technology available today, and I believe employees see these types of accommodations contributing to a better work-life balance formula,” Vazquez continued.

This was backed by the 2016 PROTECH tech survey that revealed the best perks for employees were actually pretty vanilla in comparison to all the things companies are offering. The top perks were: flextime or telecommuting (43 percent) followed by some form of sign-on or annual bonus (15 percent), additional vacation was third best perk (11 percent) followed by education reimbursement/training (8 percent), equity (8 percent), retirement/401k (7 percent), company car/car allowance (4 percent), full health coverage (3 percent) and relocation (1 percent).

best perks

This year, when trying to decide how to keep employees from leaving, why not try offering some flex-hours paired with a performance bonus instead of using that cash on a company pizza party? Just a thought.

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Elizabeth is a tech contributor for PROTECH,; Tāk and other SFL businesses. Elizabeth is also the author of travel and children's books. More about her adventures can be found on her blog: You can reach her at