Perks May Prove Critical to Employee Retention

Happy employees perks benefits
Perks and benefits keep employees happy

Employers are constantly trying to meet employee expectations, right down to the perks they offer for working long hours. Sometimes those benefits are necessary, and sometimes they’re frivolous. What do employees really want, though?

Just as critically, how can companies make employees feel valued without throwing money and random perks their way? It’s a balancing act, but data shows it might not be quite as difficult as some make it out to be.

Our Dice Salary Survey shows most employees want very basic things. More money is always a motivating factor for sticking with an employer, but an increasing number of employees also want flexible hours and the ability to work remotely. Almost as many say they need more challenges at work, while a select few say a promotion or more training would keep them interested in their current employer.

ITSM provider SysAid Technologies compiled a list of perks it says employees are looking for, and it echoes Dice’s own data. A work-life balance is key: “It’s important for companies to recognize that employees have a life outside of their job and respect that. A few ways to do this are offering flexible work hours so employees can focus on their tasks and responsibilities rather than abiding by strict work hours.”

In addition, perks such as paid time off for volunteer work can help employees feel less tied to a desk, and may contribute to another perk that SysAid recommends: a healthy work environment. If a company wants to get really locked into taking care of employees, SysAid recommends completing mundane tasks. If the budget allows, for example, a concierge service for dry cleaning or car washes, that “sends a message” the company understands its employees have things to do besides compile code.

All this derives from intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Our intrinsic motivators come from within. Perks such as the desire for a promotion or more certifications at work are intrinsic. The rest are external factors that spurn us to do more because we feel comfortable or pressured to perform.

In a recently published eBook, Bonusly points out that equity also plays a big role. If a company is going to reward its staff, it’s important to make sure everyone is able to benefit. “One of the most common, yet avoidable sources for controversy in an organization is the equity with which team members are compensated and rewarded for the work they do. Without equity, motivational tools can become the source of animosity and disengagement, defeating their entire purpose.”

Specificity is also critical, Bonusly suggested. Letting employees know why they’re being rewarded is key. It’s in those moments when an extrinsic benefit churns intrinsic drive. If a company party for a recently shipped product brings little more than “great job, everyone” as a message, the marketing and engineering teams may not feel as though their work is appreciated, because management hasn’t expressed it even understands what they do.

This all matters. Retention is at stake for employers; in our Dice Salary Survey, 40 percent of respondents say they’re ready to jump ship. Some 69 percent say they’re willing to relocate for a job. While higher pay is (and probably always will be) the top driver, 43 percent say they want better working conditions, and 31 percent want more responsibility. There’s no better example of how extrinsic and intrinsic motivation feed into a company’s culture.

2 Responses to “Perks May Prove Critical to Employee Retention”

  1. Patrick Jeremy Flanagan

    Recognize that the industry is fueled by INTP/J types who value isolation and creative freedom to bring money into the company. Recognize that the industry is NOT fueled by F/S types who push open floor plan agendas and big office expenditures across on their excel spreadsheets. The latter may be an attractive ornament in your office environment but does little to make attractive product.

    The human mind comes in all flavors and pursuits. Yes, yes some of these office ornaments are necessary and one begets the next. That said you’d go a long way in giving the true drivers what they want (isolation, command over their designs and freedom of movement, not on-site demands and rigid management structure).

    Just as the paradigm of code duties go the paradigm of human duties go. Manager < Analyst < Designer. The last of which is the creative and intellectual source of your product. The other two are your office ornaments responsible for brokering the message. Never mistake the first two for the last one.

    For the most part it's all pretty simple. People with the mind to drive companies don't want to move to a big city and live paycheck to paycheck. They don't want to work on an open floor plan where every S/F flourishes. They want difficult problems to chew on and they want to do it unhindered by all the crap S/F puts in their workplace. It is this crap that has so many of the right people thinking about leaving the industry for good.

    • Justin

      I have a singular goal now as a developer — get a 100% remote job. Sure, having the option to move around and explore new places is nice, but mostly that goal is fueled by never having to work in an “open space” again and putting up with the constant distractions and bombarding me with questions that break my focus. I don’t like wearing headphones, and I really wish people would stop telling me to. It’s a huge part of why I switch jobs every 9-15 months.