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Job Perks: What Draws You?

By JazzManJim in Culture
Mon Nov 13, 2000 at 09:21:47 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

I was reading over the Washtech section of the Washington Post online and found this column which interested me. In a nutshell, companies are having to find ways besides stock options to draw new people. This is more acutely felt here in the Washington DC area because there's such a dire need for qualifies techies, but it seems appropriate for just about anywhere.

So my question is, what draws you a job, aside from the job itself? What perks have you been offered, or have received that have induced you to either take a new job, or to stay where you are? What would you like to see in the way of new and inventive perks?


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Job Perks: What Draws You? | 22 comments (15 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
Perks? (2.33 / 3) (#8)
by Greyjack on Mon Nov 13, 2000 at 06:36:17 PM EST

Money's always good.

Here is my philosophy: Everything changes (the word "everything" has just changed as the word "change" has: it now means "no change") --Ron Padgett

Pay is such a small part (4.40 / 5) (#9)
by topher on Mon Nov 13, 2000 at 06:57:03 PM EST

Pay is such a small part of what draws me to a job. Right now my primary job is as a NetAdmin (WinNT) for a public high school. Obviously it isn't the money. I left a job where I was making almost 3x what I now make, as a Macintosh Admin. The thing they couldn't pay me enough for was the fact that I had a new family. I was up before my wife and daughter and home just as my daughter was going to sleep. Well, now my first daughter is 3 yrs and I have a second daughter. I had to add another job and I may, at any minute, leave job 1. Six years ago I all I wanted was money and stock options, now I want insurance, vacation time and a flexible schedule. I would love to add daycare to the list, even though I 'd rather my wife take care of them during the day and maybe get a part time job in the evenings.

But all of that will go away fast if I can't stand the team that I work with, or I have a true idiot for a boss.

But then again snow days rock :-)

A company with a big budget is nice, though (4.00 / 2) (#10)
by sera on Tue Nov 14, 2000 at 12:24:20 AM EST

I don't care a lot about how much salary I get, but on the other hand, it's comforting to hear a high offer. Why? Because it implies to me that the company understands that talented programmers don't come cheap, and that it's better in the long run to have a staff of five elite brilliant programmers then twenty code zombies.* If you have a company with a cool, one-of-a-kind idea, you can attract strong talent based on that alone -- but there aren't many of those ideas around today, and failing that, money's pretty important.

I just switched jobs, leaving behind a company that was extremely mismanaged. There weren't that many sharp people around, because the company thought that it could try to hire on the cheap. So what happened was that everybody they hired was a) not that bright, or b) bright but inexperienced, so they worked there for a half-year or so and got enough experience to get a better job somewhere else. Of course, this made it even harder to attract more smart people, since most truly smart people want to work with people who they can learn from.

My new job offered me a very substantial raise. The money itself is nice, of course. But it also gives me hope that I won't be doing mop-up work for somebody else who can't learn the basics quickly enough, and that I'll be in a position to learn from my co-workers.

*Unless it's a job on Wall Street, which messes up all sense of proportion when money's involved.

firmament.to: Every text is an index.
[ Parent ]

Perks (2.00 / 1) (#11)
by damian on Tue Nov 14, 2000 at 05:01:56 AM EST

First off, money is a big perk. There is not much worce than slagging away at ajob and being under paid, and under appresiated.
Another one is equal treatment to single (non married with kid/s) workers.
Hassle free telecommuting is a big one with me. Sometimes I just don't feel like commuting into work, or I'm working on a project that I don't want to be interupted on.
Work environment: This is more than the steriotypical IT "We Got bean bags and a pool table" attitude of some employers. Having a boss that understands what the hell you do, and knows the pitfalls always helps. Even more so, a boss that understands you personally.(i.e. sometimes playing tetris on work hours is needed)

------------------- yourdotcomsucks.com
Good points! (2.00 / 1) (#12)
by Mantrid on Tue Nov 14, 2000 at 11:55:23 AM EST

Good points, especially the thing about single workers. The attitude is that you have family and such that obviously you are going to go home early, and of course the single workers will gladly stay in your place. My view on this is that there's a job to be done, and if you have family at home, obviously this is very important, but it's your business, and the job at work, has to get done. Just because i haven't found a wife (yet hehe), doesn't mean my personal life is less important then yours.

[ Parent ]
Personal life. (4.00 / 1) (#14)
by Phil the Canuck on Tue Nov 14, 2000 at 02:06:42 PM EST

I'll start by saying that I'm opposed to treating single employees differently than married/parental ones. Employers should treat all staff as people, not resources. However, someone going home to be with their children is more important than the things that most unattached people do in their spare time. It's something that people aren't really qualified to comment on until they've tried both.


I don't think being an idiot comes with a pension plan though. Unless you're management of course. - hulver
[ Parent ]

Personal life? (none / 0) (#22)
by Belly on Thu Nov 16, 2000 at 08:18:27 PM EST

Hmm, so you agree but disagree?

I don't know that you can have it both ways. Who decides what is/isn't important in terms of what is done with personal time. Personal time is just that - personal. Does a company have the right to decide one employees' personal habits are more important than anothers? If I'm single and do incredibly important(to me) things in my free time, who is to say that what I do is less important than some other guy spending time with his kids.
I don't think there is any objective way to categorically state that activity x is definitely more/less important than family time..
I think the point is, marital status and personal life should have no bearing on your work obligations.

[ Parent ]
Quality of environment means more than money (4.00 / 2) (#13)
by Mendax Veritas on Tue Nov 14, 2000 at 01:17:18 PM EST

I want to do interesting things, work with a good team, and have company management that knows how to get things done without being abusive to the employees or lying to the public. That's what's really important; money, while nice, does not make up for hating your job, at least not for me.

My current job (which I'll be leaving at the end of the year) was great until we got acquired by a larger company a year ago. The work and my immediate environment are still cool, but the top brass completely blew my trust and loyalty by getting too greedy and nearly trashing the company with the poor judgment that usually accompanies excessive greed. Now, in a desperate attempt at salvaging the situation, they've decided to shut down my office and have people back at our east coast HQ take over our products. I've decided they've done me a favor; I wasn't happy anymore, and the severance package is good. And in Silicon Valley these days, jobs grow on trees. (Not necessarily good ones, mind you; you still have to evaluate new opportunities carefully.)

A good salary is nice, but here it's gotten to the point where $100k/yr is considered a middle-class wage (mostly because housing is so insanely expensive -- the average apartment is somewhere around $2000/mo in any neighborhood you'd want to live in, and a house for less than $700k is either tiny, a wreck, or in a bad area). So I think of my salary as simply a way to make ends meet month-to-month and have a little extra for my retirement plan and my daughter's college fund. Stock options are much more interesting, but it's not as simple as a few years ago, when you could just sign on with a dot-com that seemed to have a good business plan and think you were going to be rich. (Well, I managed to buy a house that way, but I'm not rich.) If startup stock options are your thing, today you have to look for truly world-changing ideas, not just the latest dot-com buzzwords. My new job may turn out to be one of those. I guess my k5 diary over the next couple of years will show whether it is or not. (Sorry, I can't say anything more about it yet.)

What draws me? (4.00 / 1) (#15)
by Dr_Bones on Tue Nov 14, 2000 at 05:00:29 PM EST

This is a subject that I've spent a lot of time thinking about over the past 6 months. When you're bored at your job, and feel like you're at a dead end, I suppose this tends to happen. When I began my job search in earnest, I was basically looking for a raise. As the offers started to roll in (as I was swamped with them </brag>) I found I had to decide on issues besides salary, some of which were things I've never given the slightest thought to. Anyway, here's my short list:
  • Company Car
  • Duplicate equipment for telecommuting. Not just a laptop here, but a decent test environment for a sysadmin.
  • Car & Driver (this one blew me away, because I was over an hour from the job)
  • 3-4 day work week
  • The obligatory signing bonus
In the end, I didn't take the job with the highest salary, not even in the top 3. After meeting the people involved, I made my decision based on the quality of my coworkers, and how much I felt I could learn from them. The commute was average, as was everything else. But, when I found a true guru to work with, I latched on immediately, with the hopes that I'd be a guru not long afterward. A lot of people disagree, but I'm not in this for the money, I just want to know everything.

Right decision (3.00 / 1) (#17)
by z on Tue Nov 14, 2000 at 06:11:19 PM EST

It sounds like you probably made the right decision.

When considering perks, I divide them into two groups:

  • Things I can buy myself if my employer doesn't provide it.
  • Things I'd have to change jobs to get.

That second item is what's important. If I can get a job where I am working on really neat technology, my co-workers are great to work with, and infrastructure for getting the work done is there (office space, computers, network, etc.), then I'll take the job. If I want a PC at home or a car, I'll buy my own.

[ Parent ]

Work environment (3.00 / 1) (#16)
by z on Tue Nov 14, 2000 at 06:00:17 PM EST

Too many companies have terrible working environments. Right now I am thinking more of physical environment (but it applies to the social environment, too).

My physical environment is generally quite good: an office with a door and window, fairly quiet, a recent PC with large monitor, a desk, etc. But I am temporarily working part time at a customer site. It's more crowded. And the HVAC system is so bad that my desk vibrates at about a 10Hz rate from the fan vibrations. It makes it hard to concentrate on coding.

I have checked on office costs in the past. The incremental cost to go from barely usable office space to quite nice is only a few percent of software engineers salary. You'd think more companies would pay it.

Perks ... (4.33 / 3) (#18)
by aphrael on Tue Nov 14, 2000 at 10:31:40 PM EST

People. I want to work with people that I can *like* as human beings (not just respect as techies), and that I would enjoy going out and drinking/smoking pot with. I also want an atmosphere which is collaborative, not competitive.

Flexibility --- being able to take 3 week vacations when I need to is a good thing; I like to travel. And being able to just flake off for a day or two when undergoing a short-term personal crisis is just as critical.

Picky, picky, picky.. (3.00 / 2) (#19)
by parma on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 12:17:25 AM EST

I'm going to starting looking a new job soon (effective next spring) and the following are going to be important factors in my search..

  • No 80 hour work weeks. I wouldn't mind putting in the occasional, but as a constant, no thanks.
  • Relaxed work environment. I currently waltz into work in jeans and a t-shirt without a second glance. I'd prefer to keep it that way.
  • Telecommuting. I'd really like that option, simply because I've found that at my current job, a large majority of my daily work can be done from home sitting in my underwear. As was mentioned before, if I'm having one of those days, I'd prefer to stay home.
  • Comfortable office space. Spending one's professional life in a chair staring at a CRT can't be good for your health, so they could at least try to soften the blow. Big monitor and comfy chair would do it.
  • Collegues I can go out and drink with would be cool.

I quickly grew out of the whole top-dollar snazzy job bit when I realized it's not all about the money, and thus I'm prepared to sacrifice a lesser salary for a more comfortable and personal work environment.

What am I looking for... (none / 0) (#20)
by Malachi on Thu Nov 16, 2000 at 12:17:46 PM EST

My ideal (as a network admin/engineer):
  • Decent Salary (upper-average median)
  • Vacation days, year accumulation, multi-year increase
  • Quarterly/Bi-Quarterly training/education paid training
  • Cell paid
  • Gym paid
  • Home internet connection paid
  • 5-15% Travel (expenses paid)
  • Mobile computer w/ good tools
  • Flexible hours
  • Work week flexibility (its about getting a job done, right?)
  • True perks:

  • Management that listens
  • Workable budget
  • Good healthy friendly enviornment (keep abrasives and closed minded people on the shelf)
  • The harder you work the more your respected, not the harder the work the more work your expected.
  • Listen, Plan, think, initiate, iterate, polish, iterate, complete, iterate
  • I remember going to a conference once, and a few SUN people were telling me that SUN, and many big companies, like to give you a lot of physical things so you can get yourself indentured where you can't move very quickly or well. So you have to be careful what you ask for, or it might just trap you.

    In the end I'm tired of feeling like a resource/tool. I like social interaction, I like being apart of the big picture as well as dealing with the macrocosms. I don't like having to patch up the team because upper managment has seen fit to neglect its responsibilities. CEO's should guide, not interfere, not throw technology around like its a paintbrush. How many times have you been asked, 'How hard is it to build X'? How many times have you had a boss at 5 roll in and say, 'I need you to do Y', and your plans are fskc'd.

    oh well.. thats why we try and grow up to form our own better companies, right? Is there a place online like the SBA which supports upstarts..er startups? ;D

    Keepin it real,

    We know nothing but to ask more questions.

    Happiness is ... (4.00 / 1) (#21)
    by Ummon on Thu Nov 16, 2000 at 01:35:29 PM EST

    your own office with a door and a phone with a "Do Not Disturb" button.

    Seriously, I don't think I could ever work in a cube farm environment again. It's nice to work as a team and everything but when the work gets intense, you don't want to disturbed by your coworkers. Well, that and you can play you music louder.

    A clueful employer is the second factor in employee happiness. Unfortunately it is almost impossible to determine the clueness quotient without inside sources. So you have to mitigate that with other more tangible means of compensation.

    Training is high on the list, but even higher is tuition reimbursement. Why? Most companies will only provide training in areas directly associated with your current job function. That's great if your happy to spend the rest of you life as a code monkey or a console jockey. But I honestly don't think I could hack 30-40 more years of this kind of work. With a tuition reimbursement plan you can work on another degree or your Masters or just take random classes. That is worth more in the long term than another vendor certification.

    And finally, don't take the company provided phone, laptop, or internet. It's a trick. They'll just use it as an excuse to make you work outside of your normal hours. There is nothing more pleasing than being completely out of touch with my employer. If they don't like it, tough. When I walk out the door, I'm done for the day. If I've done my job right, they have no need to ever call me at home. And beside if you truly need it for your position they'll give it to you anyway which means it's not really a perk.

    Job Perks: What Draws You? | 22 comments (15 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
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