The technology world is an interesting space for talent. Competition is fierce. We would all love to rely on our products and the innovation that happens within our teams. But, the fact still remains that we need to compete in other ways as well. We all pay well. Some companies offer fat performance bonuses. Others pile stock awards on to their stars or offer impressive retirement plans.
However, there is another batch of so-called perks that many companies are touting to their candidates. Perks that are designed to show off how much a company cares about their employees and their well- being. But, when you look closely at some of these benefits, they often seem more like a way to disguise a crappy work environment.
Let’s look at some of my favorite examples:
On-Site Massage: Okay…I love massages. I’m sure you love massages. Everyone loves massages! But, when do we often think of getting a massage? When we’re stressed! If massages are so important, add it to your health care plan so employees can access it when needed. But, having an everyday masseuse available may be hiding the fact that you are over-stressing your employees.
The Massive Sign-On bonus/Golden handcuff: Money up front is always nice. You can practically see the dollar signs in a person’s eyes when they hear about the fat sign-on bonus they will get for joining. Big money means you can buy a new car! A mortgage down payment! A lifetime supply of crunchy Cheetos! Oh…but wait…it comes with a 2 year requirement? So, that means that if you join and find that you hate the company and want to leave you’ll actually need to pay it back? Don’t spend it all in one place…
Free dinner: This is my all time favorite. We give you free dinner! Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about free lunch. That one is pretty awesome. I’m talking about free dinner. Think about it. Free food is great. But, why does the company need to offer free dinner as a benefit? Could it be because they work their employees until the evening hours? Could those 60 hour work weeks feel like 90 hours if you’re not fed? Wouldn’t you rather be home eating dinner with your family?
What sounds awesome actually turns out to be frustrating. Technology is advancing faster than ever before. In order to keep up, companies are beginning to crack the whip like they did in the dot com days. However, back then, everyone was getting rich! That’s not happening, anymore. The number of people getting rich has gone down, but the employees working to make them rich are still chained to their desks.
I have a suggestion. Stop hiding behind “beyond the basics” benefits. First, address the real issue of poor planning. Overworked employees are a direct result of poor management. Also, consider improving your “work from home” policies. Employees aren’t afraid to work hard and sometimes put in long hours. But, instead of paying someone to give them a back rub, let them work from the comfort of their own homes. Give them a chance to put their kid to bed and watch some “Walking Dead” before they sit down to crank further.
And, for goodness sakes, stop giving them free dinner. Quit pretending this is for employee wellness. A healthy employee should be with his family or hanging with her friends. Not spending it with the same people she’s been looking at all day long. However, a devoted employee will take advantage of this “perk” more often than they should. And, the company is totally okay with that.
Don’t be fooled! Not all benefits are created equal.
Jason Pankow realized long ago that he wasn’t smart enough to actually program video games and game consoles. So, he found another way to participate! In between bouts of pwning newbs in Halo or scoring mad gamerpoints, Jason spends his time as the Staffing Program Manager for Microsoft’s Devices and Studios Division. Jason’s day is spent running programs that help recruit the obscenely talented developers, designers and engineers that have blessed the world with the likes of Xbox, Kinect and tons of other rad stuff, much of which he can’t tell you about. So, don’t ask. In non-nerd speak…what this means is that Jason has the coolest recruiting job in the world! Look him up as “Satchmo Baggins” on Xbox LIVE. But, watch out for the dreaded headshot!