How tech companies keep using perks to win the 'war on talent'

In the latest Glassdoor report, tech companies make up 12 of the top 25 companies for compensation and benefits. Here's why Silicon Valley has turned into the Big Rock Candy Mountain for tech jobs.


We've heard the tales- there exist magical jobs out in Silicon Valley where your laundry is done for you, the food and drink flow freely, and office lunch rooms feature 19th century log cabins for inspiration.

And the pay is pretty good too.

According to a new report by Glassdoor, of the top 25 companies for compensation and benefits, 12 of them are tech companies. Topping off the list is Google at #1, Facebook at #3, and Adobe at #4.

"It's no surprise to see tech companies dominate this report," said Allyson Willoughby, Glassdoor senior vice president of people. "Tech companies have to hire for many hard-to-fill technical and engineering roles, and these employers offer competitive pay and benefits in order to win the fierce war on talent."

Trying to attract top talent is part of the reason why offering some less conventional workplace perks has gained popularity.

"Anecdotally, I've seen and heard about many interesting and unusual benefits and perks including companies that take all their employees on vacation for a week, on-site doctors, free Uber rides to and from work, and weekly beer carts that deliver beer to your desk," Willoughby said.

Glassdoor itself even offers a pet-friendly workplace, yoga classes, kayaks to take on the San Francisco Bay, and unlimited vacation time.

The trend toward this intense brand of benefits can be traced back to Google. According to Forbes, one of Google's first ideas, which came from Sergey Brin, was to provide nannies for the children of parents on the less-than-100-person staff.

Google's most recent addition to its benefit plans was "death benefits" in 2012. The company announced it would pay the families of deceased employees 50% of the salary for 10 years- and with no requirement for time worked at Google.

Aside from trying to nab the best tech talent available, Forbes writer John Goodman described the unconventional benefits trend as being an alternative to paying higher wages. He also mentioned California's taxes:

"Even moderate income families in California can face marginal tax rates that approach 50%. When an employer tries to pay a worker one more dollar, the employee takes home slightly more than 50 cents. Most employee benefits, however, are tax free. That means that the benefit could be worth half its cost and still be a good deal for the employees."

Willoughby said that while perks can help sway a candidate's decision initially, they don't guarantee an employee will stick around. Job seekers tend to make compensation their first priority. After that, Willoughby said, one in five considers perks an important benefit. Ultimately, the free food might not be enough.

"We find that workplace factors like career growth opportunities and the company's culture and values are much more valuable to job seekers than perks and tend to have more influence over their career decisions," she said.

Salesforce, which is #9 on Glassdoor's list, has its own ideas.

"It's a competitive market so we need to ensure we have the world's best talent, but you don't get that through perk wars," said Monika Fahlbusch, senior vice president of global employee success at Salesforce. "In other words, it's not the ping pong table or the corn hole that attracts the best talent, but a collaborative work environment that provides a way for our team sport culture to thrive."

For companies looking to snag the best talent, Willoughby said it's important to remember that perks, benefits, and pay are not a one-size-fits-all model.

"Each company should carefully assess what is right for it, and what isn't to offer employees," she said. "Not every company has the ability to offer the same types of perks as a Silicon Valley tech company, but smaller companies can be competitive in terms of pay or other benefits they can offer."

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