Keeping IT happy can be a challenge when there's higher expectation and more demands than ever before. So what do your IT employees really want from their workplace perks? Here are six that can help any company stand out from the crowd.
With so much competition for the best talent in the tech industry, it's vital that companies work hard to stand out from the crowd and attract and retain the best people by giving their employees the incentives they want.
But this is about more than just offering a larger pay packet than your competitors. In fact, more and more employees are looking beyond this and focusing on the culture of the company they want to work for. An environment that aligns with their values and offers them useful benefits are often the deciding factors when talented staff are choosing between potential employers.
Therefore, it's essential the perks you have on offer meet the expectations of your workers. And when you're looking to keep your IT team happy, it might be a good idea to look at the companies they'll be paying attention to. Tech firms in particular have developed a strong reputation over the last few years for comprehensive, valuable, and sometimes quirky perks, and it's more than likely your IT team will be aware of what this industry is doing, so it pays to look at what you can offer to stand out from your competitors.
With this in mind, here are a few workplace perks that IT workers really want, and some companies that do these well.
1. Health awareness programs
Ensuring your employees stay healthy - both in body and mind - is essential for any high-performing business. But while perks such as gym memberships are increasingly common, some firms go much further.
Quicken Loans, for example, not only offers full health insurance to all staff - including its interns - but its 'total you' initiative provides health screening and awareness programs, as well as group activities such as yoga. These are just some of the reasons why it was named the best large company for perks by Computerworld.
2. Unlimited vacation time
Allowing workers to take as much time off as they want may seem like a strange idea that's open to abuse, but many companies are now finding there are big benefits to offering such freedom. Netflix, LinkedIn and Virgin are among those that follow this philosophy for some or all of their staff, and they seem to be doing quite well.
This gives workers the flexibility and freedom they need to work when and how they want. The strategy also removes the need to count days and plan ahead, and improves overall morale by demonstrating that the business trusts its employees to act responsibly.
3. Creative time
Allowing employees to spend a portion of their time away from the daily grind and working on creative projects they're really passionate about is another great way to keep employees happy - and it can also bring huge benefits to the company if they are able to put some of these ideas into practice.
Google was particularly famous in its formative years for its '80/20' policy, which allowed workers to spend 20 percent of their time on personal projects - which resulted in Gmail, AdSense and Google News, among others. Google has since cut back on this, but other firms still make use of it. Quicken Loans, for example, offers its IT-centric 'Bullet Time' policy, which sets aside time each week for its tech workers to pursue their own projects, such as building a robot.
4. Help with your chores
Long-term development goals are great, but sometimes, workers just need a bit of help with things closer to home. And in today's environment, where work rarely remains within the traditional 9-5, giving your employees a helping hand to manage their work-life balance can be hugely valuable.
Some companies, such as home health technology company Axxess, offer concierge-type services to their employees, which may involve anything from arranging laundry to providing full catered meals. Meanwhile, the likes of Google bring in outside vendors to wash your car or give you a haircut at work, while VMWare offers everything from fitness services to legal representation
5. Community involvement
Working for a company with a strong sense of social responsibility is important for many employees today, and firms can demonstrate this by allowing employees the time they need to do their bit for the community as part of their working hours.
VMWare, for example, has a citizen philanthropy program, which allows employees to receive up to 40 paid hours per year to volunteer their time to local nonprofits. It also has an IT Pro Bono service to help manage and coordinate employees who donate their IT expertise to such organizations.
6. Mentoring and development
Finally, providing good opportunities for development to employees is always a strong selling point for IT departments. Learning new skills is crucial in this field, as technology is always evolving.
Providing the support people need - whether this is mentoring programs or setting aside a certain number of hours a year for individual training - brings positives to both the employee and the company, which gets to reap the rewards as staff members put their new skills to use to help the business grow.
Some companies even offer financial assistance for their employees, not only by funding future career development opportunities, but reimbursing them for any tuition fees they've accrued while building their skills.
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