The job Market in the U.K. has never been so competitive. In 2019, we are experiencing a candidate-shortage: particularly within the Software engineering market. It is for this reason that businesses must make sure that they are offering an attractive salary & bonus package, as well as a working environment that will excite the best talent.
In 2013, Owen Wilson & Vince Vaughan brought Google’s Silicon Valley workplace to mainstream attention with ‘The Internship’. Since then we have seen an explosion of perks & benefits offered by businesses. Some have been weirder than others; I’ll take a hard pass on Onebestway’s ‘naked Friday’ perk to be honest. Continental tendencies aside, there are some perks that have caught my eye. Office pool tables, gym memberships & flexitime are likely to be the benefits you will come across most often.
I thought to myself that with all the politics going on in the world at the moment, what we all need is a holistically subjective take on the offerings from businesses that I work with – as well as others that I have stumbled upon – in a ranking system justified by me, myself & I based upon the varying degrees of lunchtime choices.
Chicken & Bacon Sandwich Tier
These are nothing to get excited about.
You didn’t like it as a kid, you’re not impressed by it now.
Fruit in the office is a nice-to-have, but I can’t imagine anyone is accepting an offer of employment on the strength of the businesse’s fruit offering.
Free tea & coffee
Is this not a basic human right?
How can we be expected to work without the sweet nectar of caffeine powering us? The ranking of this one gets a little complicated when we start talking quality of supply, but more on that later.
Holiday purchasing options
I rank this just above businesses that list statutory holiday as a perk. It’s nice to be able to get more holiday I guess. But it would leave an ever so slightly bitter taste in my mouth if I’d had to pay for the privilege of having a day off.
Free eye tests
Because the only thing better than being blown in the eye by a machine is not having to pay for it.
Plus the fact that with Software engineering roles, this is a legal requirement.
Hoisin Duck Wrap Tier
Companies offering these have their heads switched on when it comes to candidate attraction and staff retention.
Free tea & coffee
Ah, we meet again. Bit of a contentious one in the Applause office, I have added this to this tier with the caveat that the tea & coffee are above your basic PG or Milicano. Not that there is anything wrong with those brands, I was brought up on the revolutionary triangle bags; life-changing stuff. But when you open the cupboard and those Twining’s speciality blends are staring back at you, you know you’re in a place that understands fine beverages.
Enhanced maternity leave
According to Gov.uk, mothers are entitled to 26 weeks of maternity leave, starting from 11 weeks before the due date. Yet, Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) stands at 90% of their pre-tax income for the first six weeks, lowering to £148.68 per week for the next 33 weeks. Worse still for fathers as they are only alloted up to two weeks again at 90% of their salary or £148.68, whichever s lower.
It comes as no surprise to see enhanced maternity leave as one of the more popular benefits. How refreshing it is to see businesses allowing women to have a family and a career. Companies like KPMG, PwC, Accenture & Aviva offer enhanced maternity pay. Giving their staff one less thing to worry about when they’re expecting an addition to the family.
Free/subsidised Gym membership
Physical exercise and mental health have been scientifically linked in a mutually exclusive relationship. A business that offers free or subsidised gym memberships may not excite those that aren’t heading for Muscle Beach every summer. However, it can remove a barrier to increasing an individual’s exercise time each week. Making it as easy as possible for your employees to live a healthier lifestyle is the actions of a business that care about the welfare of their staff.
Profit share/share options
Taylorism may be an outdated philosophy, but there are those for which it still works.
You’d probably need a fair bit of trust in the business for this one, but then why would you work somewhere you don’t believe in? For me, this perk really taps into the engagement an employee will have on their productivity at work. If they benefit from an increase in revenue for the business, then they are going to work harder. A company that is well known for offering perks like these is John Lewis & Partners. In March this year, the Company announced its decision to award all staff with a bonus to the tune of 3% of their salary, for the end of the financial year.
Panini from EAT Tier
These benefits can be the deciding factor for candidates that are sat on the fence between two roles. Each of these are designed to make the working life of an employee as enjoyable as possible.
Continuing the theme of free tea & coffee, what’s better than a medium roasted, beautifully balanced coffee. With notes of caramel, stewed plums & delicious chocolate on the finish? Somebody to make the damn thing for you (shout out to Method Roastery for the description).
Flat white? No problem, Cappuccino? Why yes, of course, Sir. Macchiato? Get over yourself mate.
On-site Child crèche
A rarity in workplaces, some organisations will offer an on-site child creche to relieve their staff of the stress – and cost – of childcare. Research conducted by Sodexo found that the number of childminders in the UK had fallen by over 10,000 in the last 5 years, making it more expensive than ever to care for a child and work at the same time. It is for this reason that this benefit is so much more than a nice-to-have. I can easily see this benefit being the coup de grâce when a candidate is really struggling to decide between two roles they can’t separate.
A big one (for the technology industry at least!). Remote working is known for being a deal-breaker to candidates in the market. The opportunity to spend part of your working week at a destination of your choice is an appealing one. With the number of cloud-based applications available on the market, it has never been easier to work from many locations. A big resistance to this perk being offered is the trust of a manager to their team. But then, would you want to work for somewhere with a management style like that?
Research & Development Time
Playtime, down-tools day & 10% Time. There are many names for this particular benefit. If these have left you scratching your head, they are an opportunity for employees to use the tools at their disposal in the office to conduct their own research, on passion projects that could benefit their working life. Google called this the 20% rule, as they give their employees one day a week to do so, but, in 2013 they axed this benefit as fewer employees were taking them up on the option.
Fast Company reported the reason to be that employees making the most of their 20% perk felt they were judged unfairly in peer reviews and held back as a result. So, it didn’t work out for Google, but 3M & Hewlett-Packard have offered similar perks and have experienced productivity boosts as well as improved engagement with teams across the company. The humble post-it note is a direct result of 3M’s 15% time, which preceded Google by 50 years, as well as several of their most profitable products to date.
The Wasabi Hot Cabinet Tier
Those once in a blue moon treats: here are the best perks that I have heard of. They are hard to come by and definitely not something that you can demand as a candidate. But they do undoubtedly make working at the business an enjoyable experience.
Certainly not something to be expected at your average company, there are only two businesses I have come across that have hosted a festival for their staff; Admiral & UKFast. This looks as though it is more a case of the leadership team wanting to throw a massive party, but in doing so they are giving their employees an experience they’re certainly not going to forget. And in a candidate short market like the one we have with Software engineers, these money-can’t-buy experiences become all the more important.
Holidays are brilliant, but they never do quite feel long enough. A sabbatical offers the opportunity to really reflect upon an individual’s career to that point and where they would like to see it going. This is just one reason. They can also be used to completely switch off for an extended period, especially useful if someone’s job involves a lot of time being on the go. Businesses like Deloitte, Autodesk & McDonalds (in America) offer sabbaticals to their employees that have been with the company for a set amount of time.