When it comes time to negotiate a compensation package, many tech pros worry about leaving money on the table. Yet in trying to secure as high a salary as possible, many neglect to lock down the benefits and perks that can account for 31 percent or more of total compensation.
But more tech pros are coming around to the idea that they can ask for (and often receive) perks. Surveys show that employers are willing to throw in lucrative benefits and create one-off deals in order to attract and retain the best employees. As high demand for specialized tech talent continues unabated, it’s clear that many employers will need to offer perks in order to secure the people they need.
Here’s a list of perks that tech pros have been asking for. Keep these in mind when sitting down with a candidate.
Student Loan Repayment
To attract millennials, some high-profile employers are putting hundreds (if not thousands of dollars) a year toward individual employees’ student loan debts. In fact, that trend has grown: Forbes called student loan repayment assistance the hottest employee benefit of 2017.
“Many employers are willing to put money toward student loan debt or even the attainment of project milestones, for that matter,” said Kerry Chou, senior practice leader for WorldatWork, an association for HR management professionals.
Indeed, linking repayment to performance or tenure—any milestone that benefits the company—is potentially a good way to retain employee loyalty. If this idea interests you as an employer, study competing programs to create an effective pitch, and be prepared to put milestones or goals in place as a condition of loan repayment.
Sixty-six percent of private sector companies offer some sort of sign-on bonus, according to WorldatWork. A signing bonus can be used to offset relocation expenses or to make up for deferred compensation forfeited from a previous job. For example, if a tech pro had unvested stock in their old company, it probably vaporized the day they left; a signing bonus at a new firm can help make them whole (and happy).
Some (richer) tech firms have begun offering corporate housing or a monthly housing stipend, especially if the position is located in a tech hub where rents are sky-high.
“Many employers are willing to offer housing allowances to attract new grads in in-demand fields such as software engineering or data analytics,” noted Sheila Curran, a career strategist and president of Curran Consulting Group.
Speaking of stock, public companies often negotiate one-off deals involving stock options or restricted stock, Chou said. Since those stock options typically vest over time, companies in tight labor markets are generally willing to sweeten a deal by throwing in more options.
Training and Education
Although some 87 percent of companies offer tuition assistance, professional development is often outside the salary budget. That being said, many employers are willing to fiddle around with budget lines in order to send employees with high potential to conferences and training programs.
For specialist tech pros, companies may also prove willing to pay for certifications. While that’s a major expense, keeping employees up-to-date on the latest skills and certs is often worth the cash outlay.
Employers view paid sabbaticals as an effective retention tool; and because they are typically awarded to employees who have stayed with the company for five years or more, employers are willing to use them as leverage to close a deal with a potential employee.
“Employers realize that many younger workers would like to have a long-term relationship with a company,” Curran said. “So I would definitely encourage job hunters to ask about a sabbatical.”