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Are Job Perks Coming into Vogue Again? 481

Pharmboy asks: "The Register is reporting on a company that was awarded 'Best Small Company to Work for in America' by the Detroit Free Press, in part, for providing Free beer to their employees. They offer free breakfast, lunch AND dinner, gym and snacks. This sounds similar to the late 90s, where companies were offering extreme benefits to attract extreme talent, before the bubble burst and most workers were just glad to have a job. As the job market gains strength, what are companies willing to do in order to attract the best talent? Are we about to enter another era where employers are willing to make work fun again, in order to attract and keep talent? Will this have any effect on other employers, forcing them to again offer benefits to keep pace and talent? How important are these kinds of perks to the average employee anyway? What kind of perks would you have to have to switch to a job that pay the same?"
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Are Job Perks Coming into Vogue Again?

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  • by Anonymous Crowhead ( 577505 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @07:21PM (#9904615)
    Seriously, it seems the job market is only marginally better these days.
    • Marginally better than last month? Yes. Marginally better than last year? Much better. Marginally better than 1999? Nope -- much worse.

      I think the point is that we are starting to see a return of 'perks' as an incentive for talent as the job market gets better. Not a return to dot-com boom days -- but I think that was a fluke and obviously not sustainable. It was a fun fluke, though...
      • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Monday August 09, 2004 @07:18AM (#9918846)
        I think the point is that we are starting to see a return of 'perks' as an incentive for talent as the job market gets better.

        But what kind of perks? You can separate several distinct types:

        • Flexi-time is a good bet in this industry: it's of great value to many employees, and costs the employer almost nothing (and they probably more than recoup whatever they lose in increased productivity anyway).
        • Share options are the other way around: they may have great value to the employee, or they may have none at all, but they could cost the company significantly. They can still be worth something -- I've just made a little on some for the first time -- but I doubt many people would consider them much of a perk after what happened post-.com-boom, unless getting in early with a very promising start-up.
        • Health care, gym membership, etc. are somewhere in the middle: they may have a value to some employees, but probably quite a few would rather just have the money to spend as they want instead. I've never really understood this kind of perk.

        As an employee, things like flexitime and "pillow days" are great for me. Options are nice as-well-as but not instead-of your regular package -- I'd be very unlikely to accept a below-par salary/bonus package in exchange for options. I have no interest in the third kind of perk, and would much rather have the money to spend on my first home, since houses are ludicrously expensive around here.

        I'm not sure this discussion makes much sense until you've identified what sort of thing you're going to call a "perk".

        • Health care, gym membership, etc.

          Obviously the point is to encourage the staff to work out, since taking up exercising usually leads to healthier employees. This pays in a smaller amount of sick days, more productive employees etc.

          Now, if they gave the cash, they would arguably not see the same benefits.

    • Thanks for saving me the time of having to mention that. If anyone doubts you, just redirect them to a news site so that they can notice that the dow just lost almost 150 points today. In the past two days, the Dow lost 3% of its value. Since June, it has dropped 6%, and Nasdaq about 12%.

      For those who haven't been following it, the economy this year - the "big improvement" - has barely outpaced the number of new people entering the job market. And since June, it has been notably outpaced by the number
      • It's in pretty bad shape right now... lets hope we can some day recover. :(

        Wow are you short-sighted.

        It was pretty bad in 2001. It sucked in 2002. It was still shit in 2003. 2004 has been a good year.
      • Stock market is being hammered by oil prices. Supply is adequate but there are concerns that drive up the price. Like the Russian Gov't basically trying to Nationalize the Russian Oil Industry. It's a little known fact that Russia is about 20% of the worlds supply right now. That is slack that OPEC can't make up even if it wanted to. So when it costs you more to do one thing (drive) you do less of another. Job market is OK for folks at my level (20+ yrs IT/software) but the pay scale is about like 1998. I
      • Small problem with the statisic. Thousands of high school and college graduates finishing and May and June, and we're suprised about the number of new jobseekers outpacing new jobs in the last month or two? Come on now, be fair.
        • by jrockway ( 229604 ) * <jon-nospam@jrock.us> on Saturday August 07, 2004 @01:49AM (#9907038) Homepage Journal
          Sorry about the OT random reply, but look at your obfuscated email:

          gene@teaCOFFEEmtri.com minus caffeine

          you have tea and coffee in there... which caffeine do I remove :-)

          What were the odds that your address would get split there and that the de-obfuscating recipe would call for the removal of it :)

          Sorry, I just found that amusing.
      • by cuberat ( 549657 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @08:32PM (#9905213)
        You mention the job thing and then proceed to rant about the stock market. There's no particular correlation between the two - in fact, I could argue (but won't) that having fewer employees is a way to maximize profit and drive the company stock price up!

        Not to mention that, while the number of new jobs created was pretty small, at least it was positive. Or that unemployment fell from 5.6% to 5.5. That's pretty low to be called 'bad.'

        I just finished off 8 months of unemployment by landing a new gig at a much better salary than my old job, and in the past month have received an increasing number of calls from recruiters. I'm not saying we've warped back to 1998 (oh, the glory), but it is getting better.

        The sky is not, in fact, falling.

      • Hush. Don't ruin Bush's facade. Because that would be unamerican. terrorist.
    • I don't know--- I have had 3 job offers in the past month, two of which came this week, and all of which offer salaries similar to those of the late 99-2000. The job market is coming back. Despite what all the doom and gloomers like to say, these things do go up and down. We're coming out of a down cycle.

      By the way- I went to my current employer and told them about my offer. They are countering. Oh yes, the job market is back (I am a software engineer).
  • by BladeMelbourne ( 518866 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @07:21PM (#9904617)
    The only perks I get... are free soft drinks & training. Oooh, and a fast computer. I want a notebook damit!
    • count yourself lucky. i don't get any of that (including the fast computer! stil using a p3 500 at work)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Perhaps what we need is some honesty in the perks system. - ie:

      You are entitled to £10000 (or whatever) of perks per year. Choose from the following list:
      Company car: annual value £5000
      Free food: annual value £4000
      Notebook computer: annual value £300
      etc etc etc

      This still enables the companies to get their bulk discounts etc, making perks cheaper than extra salary. Further, it would mean employees get what they WANT from their perks, and feel happy about their employer being h

    • All I get is a single regular size sandwich (as long as it dosent have roast beef on it, and no hot subs, oh and no #13s either, they have like 6 kinds of meat) and all the mountain dew I can drink. The closest thing to a computer I get to use at work is the cash register.

      Thats when the boss is thier anyway, when he's out we eat whatever the hell we want (#13 with triple meat and quadruple cheese) and bring in our laptops for some smoke-break deathmatching.

      I work at a Jersey Mikes sandwich shop.. oh the

  • by waynegoode ( 758645 ) * on Friday August 06, 2004 @07:22PM (#9904622) Homepage

    Would you really want to hire employees who would be motivated by "free beer?"

    I can understand how it could be to a company's advantage to offer free perks, but I can think of dozens (okay, thousands) that would be better for the company than free beer but still motivate employees.

    • by SnapShot ( 171582 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @07:25PM (#9904648)
      Different strokes for different folks. I can't think of a better perk than beer for two reasons.

      1. Its beer...
      2. If my employer is handing me a beer it means that the work day is complete and there is no expectation that I'm going to go back to work and do anything more productive than surf the web. Recognition that the day is complete is one of the best perks there is.
      • by Zaiff Urgulbunger ( 591514 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @07:30PM (#9904717)
        LOL @ #1 !

        I read the original Register article and thought the best thing was the laundry service, mainly because thats a chore that I *hate* and therefore something like that would improve my quality of life. If an employer offered to do my ironing as well, then I'd probably be an employee for life!!

        Although I do like the beer idea also, there's only *so much* of the stuff you can drink, and although drinks are work are fine, my work collegues aren't the people I want to hang out with all the time. And I'm not really a day-time drinker -- even if it is end of working day!
      • by waynegoode ( 758645 ) * on Friday August 06, 2004 @07:32PM (#9904738) Homepage
        Employees would like or dislike this perk based on their preferences. However, from the company's point of view, I don't think it's a good perk.

        HR dude(tte) #1 "Want kind of employess do we want to attract?"

        HR dude(tte) #2 "How about the kind who want free beer?"

        HR dude(tte) #1 "Yeah! Let's offer a perk that would only attract people who drink a lot!"

    • It's not about attracting the best employees, it's about keeping the ones you have captive at work, so they'll be more productive. Would you rather have your workers go home at 5:00, or stay and eat free pizza while they continue to work? The ultimate goal is to have them never leave the office.
    • Is it "free as in beer" or "free as in speech"? :)
    • intywinty *hick* maaineee(intagar noOfArgyWargggies, Char $#@% argyWargies) [{
      printFFFFFFFFFF("Hello there buddy, I loveee you *hick* *snore*\n");
      }))) hehe
  • by darth_MALL ( 657218 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @07:22PM (#9904625)
    My only job perk is Vogue! [style.com]
  • stronger? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by .@. ( 21735 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @07:23PM (#9904634) Homepage
    Job market getting stronger? I think you'd better go back and check the monthly jobless claims against the (revised downwards, sometimes repeatedly) new jobs reports. The past four years may see a zero gain in jobs, possibly even a net loss in jobs in the US.

    People are still getting laid off. The example you cite is an exception; it's nowhere near the norm these days, nor will it be anytime in the near future.
    • Re:stronger? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jbash ( 784046 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @07:29PM (#9904703)
      Well, I don't know about others, bit I'm still unemployed since September 2003 ...

      After nearly 23 years with one organization .... to whom I was loyal and faithful ...

      My UI benefits were exhausted last month ...

      I now own a business: but it is a start up, and we are frantically trying to reach the breakeven point; we arent there yet .... we wont be there for a few months, and even then: we wont be able to pull a salary there for a few months after that ...

      Im down to my last $150 in my bank account ...

      My rent is due in 24 days ... and I dont have it ...

      I have three kids: the oldest could not start college, because we cannot afford her modest tuition ...

      We are starting to buy basic staples: rice and bean, pasta and flour ... in anticipation of running out of other 'easier' foods ...

      My credit cards are saving my life, for the moment, but they will require another payment in 28 days ...

      The job search, which should have already ended with a good job, has stalled, and gone stale: I have four outstanding cover letter/resume packages with prospects for decent work, but they are sitting on them, while I start to sweat it ... badly ....

      I have sent each of those four a kindly email to find out my current status, and all four say I am in the running .... but: the clock is ticking ....

      I have been thinking about looking up the local food bank ... my thoughts are now floating towards memories of obtaining food stamps, and the shame I felt being in that office, and answering those questions ...

      All the while: knowing I have vast technical experience that surpasses nearly anyone else in the local job market, and should have been hired weeks ago .... I think my experience scares prospective employers ... I have been paring it down to the bare bones to try to be more attractive to employers: so far: no dice ....

      So as I ponder my near term future: as I fret over how I will feed and house my children and wife, as I wait by the phone, wondering if those whom still consider me a 'viable candidate' for open jobs will actually call, wondering if I should at least find a menial job of ANY kind in the interim: fry cook, janitor, laborer, gas jockey, ANYTHING .... I am resisting making further contect with my 'prospective' future employers, so I dont reveal my ever growing desperation .....

      Im going to dig in the phone book: and see if I can find a backdoor into my chosen field ... otherwise: all Im doing is spinning my wheels, waiting for a call that may never come ...

      Sighs: dont you wonder how much better this GOP economy can get ? ...

      Do you wonder how many jobs 2.4 TRILLION dollars in tax cuts will buy the nation ? ....

      Is it trickling down yet ??? ...

      Someone tell me if it does: I would hate to miss it ....

      • Re:stronger? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Marxist Hacker 42 ( 638312 ) <seebert42@gmail.com> on Friday August 06, 2004 @07:36PM (#9904779) Homepage Journal
        I was out 26 months (October 2001-December 2003). Hang in there. You'll find the questions for assistance are MUCH harder now than they were even 10 years ago- food stamps basically aren't available if you have 2 people getting UI checks within the last 6 months, and welfare is basically non-existant. We lost about half of our asset value before I finally got a job. And I was putting out 100 resumes every single month (basically did nothing else other than send out resumes).
      • I'm sorry, but having no money is a fucking dumb exscuse for not starting college.

        I'm a sophmore at a uni in Ohio, and I have yet to pay a dime out of pocket. All I've done is signed some loan paperwork, and I'll pay it back when I graduate.

        College is no longer only for those with money, and I'm sick of hearing that exscuse. It just means you were to lazy to do any research.
      • Re:stronger? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by eln ( 21727 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @08:00PM (#9904986)
        I was out of work for 6 months, and finally ended up taking a job paying 50% less than what I was making before. Me and my wife and two children maxed out my credit cards, were forced to move out of our (rental) house, and lived in one room of my sister's trailer for 2 months, and one room of my father's apartment for 2 months.

        When I got the job, I had to leave my wife and kids every week for 3 weeks and drive 6 hours each way to the new job, and only see them on the weekends. I eventually was able to get an apartment, and have been in the same job for 2 years. My debt load continues to increase and my credit rating is about as low as it can get because I have not had the funds available to pay off my existing debt. However, I am able to buy food and keep up with the car payments (the one thing I was able to keep through all this, and believe me it hasn't been easy).

        Now, I'm going back to college. I work full time during the day and take classes early in the morning and late at night. It is difficult, but I'm doing it. As a previous poster noted, you can get by on loans and grants quite easily. Currently my loans and grants pay my tuition, books, plus around 3 grand extra per semester, which I use to make car repairs, buy the kids clothes, and pay off the loudest debt collectors as I can.

        My point is, things can always get worse, but you can also always adjust your standard of living to get through the lean times. You mentioned you started a new business, and I have to question the wisdom of that when you are having trouble with basic necessities. Starting a business is a huge risk, and taking that kind of risk when you are so close to financial ruin already is not the smartest thing to do.

        As for food stamps, yes it is humiliating, but keep in mind that these things are designed to help people like you who are normally able to support themselves, but have fallen on hard times. You have spent 23 years paying into the welfare system, you should not hesitate to take what you need back out of it when you are having a tough time.

        If these four prospects are taking their time, go after more jobs. Sometimes, when you get desperate, you have to simply accept the first offer you get just to make ends meet. Also, if a fry cook job will put you in a better situation than you are now (and it looks like it will), then get one. Neither you or anyone else is "too good" for that kind of job. It's honest work, and it pays the bills. Do what you have to do to support your family, including swallowing your pride.
      • Re:stronger? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bluGill ( 862 )

        Is your daughter really that submissive that when you tell her not to go to college she really wouldn't? I hope she finds a nice guy to support her, cause her only chance for a good life is that the guy who takes her is nice. (as opposed to a jerk who will beat her, and it seems most of the guys who want a submissive wife want to beat her)

        I paid my own college by working at McDonalds on weekends. I graduated with no Debt! Didn't cost my parents much either (dad paid my car insurance which was a nice b

        • Re:stronger? (Score:4, Informative)

          by swissmonkey ( 535779 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @09:16PM (#9905578) Homepage
          I paid my own college by working at McDonalds on weekends. I graduated with no Debt! Didn't cost my parents much either (dad paid my car insurance which was a nice benefit, but that is all) I could have paid for everything from loans if I wanted to, but I hate debt so I made the choice to not graduate with any. Your daughter could too if she put her mind

          Well, I did the same, except that :
          1) My dad was unemployed during most of my studies
          2) I didn't have to work much during my studies
          3) I actually got money left at the end

          How did I do it ? Very simple...

          I grew up in a country(Switzerland) where the education system is not targeted towards the rich(can afford to pay) , the athletes(get scholarship to play golf, lucky ones !) and the geniuses(get scholarship also). It's a country where every kid has a chance, no matter how rich his parents are.

          And maybe the screwed up education system in this country could take a lesson out of that, so that we end up with less teenagers in the streets, homeless or joining gangs.
          I can't believe how many of my friends here in Seattle are still paying the loans they got for their studies, they've been out of school for more than 5 years and have a decent job, but it's not sufficient !
          • Re:stronger? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by bluGill ( 862 )

            We can argue pluses an minuses all day...

            Personally I think everyone would be better off if financial aid was illegal, including aid from parents. When kids have to work to put themselves through school maybe they will appreciate it... If nothing else this would bring competition into schools. Is a MIT education really 10 times better than a public university? (YMMV, MIT is very good)

      • Re:stronger? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by GoofyBoy ( 44399 )
        You've been working for at least 23 years, are unemployeed for the past year and are just now running out of UI.

        I honestly can't see how that could be the make-or-break decision for your child going to college or not.

        Was this year going to be the "save up my entire salary so my child can get a post-secondary education"?
  • by ejaw5 ( 570071 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @07:23PM (#9904635)
    How about providing healthcare and retirement, seeing these two have been disappearing for quite some time now.
    • A 40 hour work week. Go home. Have a life. Come back refreshed and more productive.
    • How about providing healthcare and retirement

      Healthcare should be solved, but retirement? Its a pretty new concept, introduced in a big way to shrink the workforce during the depression. Think retirement was the rage in the 1800's? Nope. Why is retirement a right? The thought of suddenly stopping my life is horrifying to me.

      Now, financial independance so I don't have to work, that's good. But do you know about life expectancy comparisons between retired and non-retired people of the same age and physica

  • That's nothing... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sw155kn1f3 ( 600118 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @07:23PM (#9904637)
    I'll change the place with free snacks to the place with good psychological cimate and interesting projects in a blink of an eye.
    • Exactly, a well put together workplace is far more valuable than any perks they may offer you. Yeah, free food is a huge plus, but somewhere that you can actually work on good projects with a sane environment is worth far more.

      I'm a young coder (not employed at present, I have the luxury of being 18 and still living at home so I have no expenses that I don't want.) and my right now I'm hunting for my ideal job. I'm going to university in the fall to make sure I can get some good jobs in the future, but

    • Re:That's nothing... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by demachina ( 71715 )
      Exactly right. Free meals, free beer, cheap soft drinks are nice and all but they can be synonymous to peanuts the exec's throw to their chimps to reward them for doing good tricks. Free meals are cool but they are there first and foremost to nudge you in to putting in more uncompensated overtime.

      Over the years I've set my priorities from hard experience:

      A. Make sure the company's executive team isn't looting the company through stock options, signing bonuses for their own, interest free loans that turn
  • Employement? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) *
    As the job market gains strength, what are companies willing to do in order to attract the best talent?

    See the news today? 32,000 new jobs for July?

    I still know too many people who consider a perk actually being paid more then a burger flipper. This is probably one of those exceptional places, where the owner doesn't feel the need to line his pocket and gives something back. See how long it lasts.

  • Perks? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dacarr ( 562277 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @07:27PM (#9904685) Homepage Journal
    While beer is great and all, it doesn't exactly contribute to the working environment.

    Cafeteria and feeding the employees is nice and all.

    What do I consider perks? HOw about a boss that lets me DO MY FSCKING JOB.

    • I worked for a company that would give us beer friday afternoons, when we where on schedule.
      We where usually on schedule. I would say that we put in more after hours work because we wanted to be drininking beer by 3PM, at the latest.
    • Re:Perks? (Score:3, Funny)

      by stienman ( 51024 )

      Dude! Your whole job is to FSCK disks? Wow, either you've got a few thousand servers your work with (google, perhaps? I can see a FSCK engineer working their cluster...) or really bad hardware/bad setup/bad administrators.

      Quite frankly, I don't know if that would be a stressful job or not...

  • by nytes ( 231372 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @07:28PM (#9904693) Homepage
    Free beer... They offer free breakfast, lunch AND dinner... and snacks.

    Once you say "free beer", saying "breakfast", "lunch", etc. are redundant.

    "Beer" pretty well covers everything.
  • by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @07:29PM (#9904704) Journal
    I work for an EXTREMELY large company. For the last four years, our perks have been cut and cut and cut again. Our salary increases have been typically half of cost of living in the years we actually get them. Annual bonuses are gone for good. Training has been cut back to less than acceptable.

    Hearing that some companies are starting to give perks again means that the cycle is turning back. I will be so glad to see employers like mine losing all of their best employees next year, because they'll be playing catch-up -- and it will be 'too little, too late' for most of us.
    • by glinden ( 56181 ) * on Friday August 06, 2004 @08:13PM (#9905075) Homepage Journal
      Cutting benefits can be dangerous. Typically, with any salary or benefit cut, your best employees (who have the best job prospects) leave at a disproportionate rate. It almost always has a negative impact on morale and productivity.

      Moreover, benefits often are valued by employees at a level beyond the pure monetary value. One of the more interesting books I've read on employee compensation, Strategic Human Resources, makes this point:
      • Benefits and perks can also be particularly powerful symbols of gift exchange, moving the employment relationship from one with purely economic connotations to something more along the lines of a kin or friendship relationship. Salary, wages, and even bonus payments all have the connotation of an economic exchange in which each party should attempt to extract the best possible (narrowly selfish) deal. Some forms of benefits and perks are of an entirely different flavor and can cause the worker to respond with reciprocal gifts or by internalizing the welfare of the organization.

        The psychological leverage associated with providing benefits is likely to depend on whether the employer is a pioneer in providing this perquisite or instead simply seen to be matching the competition.
      Seems like Google understands this. They offer a particularly exceptional benefits package [google.com].
      • Your comments about cutting back perks is so true. I worked for a large companie's IT department for 10 years. The whole IT department was sold off in an outsourcing deal, and there were numerous layoffs (mainly management). There have been a number of cost cutting measures and now there is talk of reducing vaction time and other benefits. If this happens everyone with the skills to jump ship will. The current salaries are middle of the road but the benefits are great. If the benefits are cut there is no re
  • Someone better tell (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mytec ( 686565 ) * on Friday August 06, 2004 @07:30PM (#9904712) Journal
  • mmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by mikeeeeeee ( 748191 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @07:30PM (#9904716)
    free beer all day, personal hammock, and massages every hour....cant beat bein' a kobe cow....
  • by Cryofan ( 194126 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @07:32PM (#9904736) Journal
    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in its July 30 report: [vdare.com]
    "There was no recession in the second quarter of this year, but BLS data show 131,000 fewer American computer software engineers employed in the second quarter than in the first quarter of 2004--a decline of 15% in three months."

    So, I seriously doubt that we are going to get anything at all like the late 90s going on for technical workers.

    • Any hints on how many of those Jobs in the US of A are now jobs in India? I know the company I work for as a contractor (large network gear company that starts with a C) keeps moving more and more work to India in spite of a number of issues they have discovered.
      • Right on - I work for a multinational as well and my even after my group was 'downsized' by about 70% to India while the work load went up by 100%, they are now getting us 'help' from India. Three Indian programmers; who will then be rotated into 'other' groups but they won't hire one local person. The joy of work is gone - most people now work to keep their jobs rather than work to do anything meaningful.

        Economy improving? Ask those who are in the unemployment line.
    • So, I seriously doubt that we are going to get anything at all like the late 90s going on for technical workers.

      Stop It! You're scaring DeVry.
  • by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @07:32PM (#9904739)
    by asking for them to arrange for Halle Berry to drop by my place on a regular basis. Obviously in the spirit of negotiation I bring along a list of 200 fit actresses and models I will accept as a substitute if Halle is not available.

    It must be said I am not having the greatest of success with this approach at the moment. I guess I have to hope either Catwoman bombs or the market picks up a tad more and in the meantime be happy if they offer me free parking.
  • by KillaForTheScrilla ( 797314 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @07:32PM (#9904743)
    I guess a good perk would be for the company to buy my plane ticket to India when they outsource my job there.

    Language classes would be good too.
  • Flextime (Score:2, Informative)

    by Shobimono ( 803469 )
    Flextime is considered a perk at my company.
  • Then, Now, Tomorrow (Score:4, Interesting)

    by blunte ( 183182 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @07:36PM (#9904780)
    Then (during the "bubble", yes perks were particularly in vogue). Some of the 90s perks were ridiculous. Netscape was famous for many things, and infamous for some of their perks - onsite free sushi bar, roving free masseuse, etc.

    DotComs were offering Ferraris to those who could recruit the most talent. Everyone who was anyone offered stock options.

    When the bubble burst, much of the madness was finally seen as madness, and it all went away. That gave many existing companies leverage to take away benefits - "You're lucky to have a job!". Yes and no.

    I had a friend who was an attorney for Tandy Corporation (Radio Shack). Tandy paid their attorneys ridiculously low salaries (as in $30k/yr for a real estate attorney). When I asked him what the hell was wrong with them, and why they thought that was appropriate, he told me their response: "These guys are just going to come here for a couple of years and leave anyway, so why should we pay them reasonably?" Duh! Naturally, anyone with talent will move along. That's true in IT as well, and options do still exist. Maybe they involve moving to a new city, but they exist.

    Some companies have been doing right all along, and they are rewarded with fierce loyalty and very good productivity. SAS Institute [sas.com], in Cary, North Carolina, has been providing stellar perks for years. They've remained private, and thus avoided the Quarterly Earnings per Share death-cycle. Imagine if your company had benefits [sas.com] like theirs.

    Other companies could be like SAS if they weren't public, and if their leaders understood what some perks could do for their productivity and employee loyalty.
  • Perks (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Judg3 ( 88435 ) <jeremy@pavlecEIN ... minus physicist> on Friday August 06, 2004 @07:38PM (#9904794) Homepage Journal
    Ah, well, perks are cool.
    One of my last jobs catered us lunch on Fridays, did the free liquor thing, paid for our healthcare and did a 150% 401k match (Every dollar I put in, they put in 1.50).

    This current job is a hell of a lot better though. Sure, they don't have all the real cool perks. Catered lunch was replaced by Donut/Bagel Fridays, there's no company match for the 401k (Until next year), the healthcare isn't free but they do chip in. But I do get some nice perks, mainly the free college education. I can work my way up to a PhD and it's on the company dime. And they take care of me better then the employer with a lot of perks. There's no pay cap. Well, there is, but if you hit the cap for your position, instead of a raise the company will cut you a bonus check for a few thousand. And they give everyone a certain percentage in stock each year. Overall, even though I have less visable perks, the perks I do get, in the end, equals more money. Bonuses, stocks, and a free education hehe.
  • As the job market gains strength, what are companies willing to do in order to attract the best talent?
    Not much more than when the job market sucked. Wait. That's now.

    Are we about to enter another era where employers are willing to make work fun again, in order to attract and keep talent?

    Will this have any effect on other employers, forcing them to again offer benefits to keep pace and talent?

    How important are these kinds of perks to the average employee anyway?
    When you've never seen a

  • Well at my office... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by otlg ( 803177 )
    Several employees have corporate gas cards, car allowances (even for non-sales/travelling personnel), corporately paid cell phone bills, corporate laptops, corporate paid internet access, etc.

    We do this because we would rather people get something useful than giving half a pay raise to the government. Plus we try and be flexible on work hours (although on the flip-side we are INSANELY timeline sensitive, e.g. work when you want but get it done by Wednesday 9:00am).

    I'm noticing a trend with friends at oth
  • What kind of perks would you have to have to switch to a job that pay the same?"

    ...free beer. WHAT? You're kidding. What's the company's name? AGI? I'm applying.

  • Perks? (Score:2, Insightful)

    Sometimes I think employers try to offer "perks" because they are cheaper than offering real incentives, like group insurance plans and retirement help.

    I worked for a webhosting company recently called WestHost in their support department, and one of the things that they would do is advertise to potential hires "we offer free pop, and LAN parties!" Then, they would hold this over our heads, and if we didn't perform perfectly and clean up management's messes and smile all the while, we got no LAN parties
  • by retostamm ( 91978 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @07:47PM (#9904869) Homepage
    Economists think that in general, Employees are paid based on their productivity.

    If you create lots of value, you get lots of money, if you create less, you get less. On average that must be pretty close to reality, because if you get paid more than what you create, your average company would go bust right away.

    Now, if you get "Perks" like Gym, free food etc, that's still coming from your total compensation, and on average just makes your paycheck smaller. That's true for Perks as well as "Free" insurance, Social Security and all the other things that "the employer pays for". If the Employer does not pay for it, you would get that money.

    IANAE (I am not an economist)
    • Now, if you get "Perks" like Gym, free food etc, that's still coming from your total compensation, and on average just makes your paycheck smaller. That's true for Perks as well as "Free" insurance, Social Security and all the other things that "the employer pays for". If the Employer does not pay for it, you would get that money.

      Kinda, except for the fact of the big black hole that is taxes. Normally many perks are not taxed, so you get 100% of them instead of the taxed 50%.
      Eliminate the income tax. V
  • As a W2 contractor- I'd jump for health care in a heartbeat. Training would be nice too.

    But on the plus side I'm getting 55% of what the company is charging for my time, even if it is only half what I would bring into the company during the dot com era.
  • by mtrupe ( 156137 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @07:49PM (#9904887) Homepage Journal
    but the market is back. I've had 3 job offers in the past month, all of which pay 10 to 20% more than I make now. Today I went to my current employer and told them my situation--- they are going to counter offer.

    I think the big perk right now is working from home or at various sites. My current job allows me to work from home 2 days a week. Oh- and I get every other Friday off. One of my job offers has 1/2 days ever Friday. Hopefully I see two trends:

    1. Employers are realizing that we have lives and not forcing us to work ridiculous hours. I make more than I have ever made right now and I never work more than 40 hours a week.
    2. Employers see the benefit of allowing employees to work off site and/or at home. 2 of the 3 offers I have had offer work at home benefits. My current job allows me to work from home. Nice. Why does a software engineer need to be in the office every day anyway?

    Markets go in cycles. We are in a recovery now. Employers are ready to produce again, and in the case of software, that means its time to hire. They realize that outsourcing didn't save them any money, so they are hiring workers right here in the U.S. Good news!
    • "Today I went to my current employer and told them my situation--- they are going to counter offer."
      I hope you trust them, becasue for many companies 'Better offer' means will pay you more while we search for your replacement.

      Out of curiousity, what state do you live in?
    • by Gannoc ( 210256 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @08:32PM (#9905207)
      Today I went to my current employer and told them my situation--- they are going to counter offer.

      Random slashdot guy,

      Do NOT, repeat NOT take that counter-offer. It is the end of your career there, because they know you've been interviewing and are on your way out. The reasons you were leaving in the first place hasn't changed. Now, you'll be at the same place, but they'll be making sure they can get rid of you in 6 months.

      I'm not saying that you're going to be fired in a few months automatically, but you'll be miserable.
      • by deanj ( 519759 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @08:56PM (#9905407)
        Mod parent response up on this.

        NEVER EVER take a counter-offer. More money isn't going to change why you were looking in the first place.

        A couple of things the parent post didn't mention:

        If they have layoffs, your name will be on the top of the list.

        Salaries are generally in one pool of money. If you get a raise now, you'll either NOT get one next time raises go around. It's also probable that the people you work will think they won't get as big of a raise because of YOU if the raise they get doesn't meet expectations.

        Plus, if you really want to work for that other company, turning them down how will make it much much harder to go back there to ask for a job. Oh, you can do it, but they'll likely say "oh, that's the guy who was just looking to make more money at the place he was at... don't bother".

        There are MANY more reasons never to take a counter-offer. Do yourself (and your career) a favor, and don't take it.

        Good luck
        • NEVER EVER take a counter-offer.

          I don't know. I can half-support that based on my own experience. I was a severely underpaid web monkey at Borland back in the 90s. As the market boomed, I had a ton of job offers, some for $30K more than my existing salary. Eventually I went to management and explained it. They said they would need a few months to arrange a matching offer. I actually gave them the time, and they actually came through. I spent many months pulling down that fat paycheck and being hap

  • by rf0 ( 159958 ) <rghf@fsck.me.uk> on Friday August 06, 2004 @07:52PM (#9904912) Homepage
    Being self employeed I give my self my own perks. So for the long hours, sleepless night I get a meal out at the local pub on a Friday. God I'm a cheapskate

  • One of the companies I work for gives employees free lunch at a pretty good bar/restaurant on the ground floor of the building every day. Drinks and tip aren't included, but as far as benefits go, that's pretty cool. Hmm.. they did a pretty good burger :) (you can tell I have taste)
  • Seriously. I get porn delivered to my cube.

    It's just all over the place here.
  • Dogs (Score:3, Funny)

    by StefanJ ( 88986 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @08:29PM (#9905176) Homepage Journal
    My dog [comcast.net] is in my cubicle with me today.

    Unfortunately, it comes with a cost: She has to watch "Animal Planet," as output by one of the digital set top boxes we are testing, and has been trained to whine whenever she sees macroblocking or other artifacts.

  • by Bowling Moses ( 591924 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @08:32PM (#9905215) Journal
    I'd want a job with 401k, pension, 2+ weeks vacation time when you start, and bonus...or are those now completely dead in the US except for executives?
  • by FauxReal ( 653820 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @08:44PM (#9905312) Homepage
    He punched me in the back of the head and told me to get back to work.
  • by CaroKann ( 795685 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @09:38PM (#9905728)

    Since so many people are going to mention the unemployment number, you should look at what that number actually means.

    This site spells it out in detail. http://www.bls.gov/cps/cps_htgm.htm [bls.gov]

    I would like to point out that the government does not simply make use of those people applying for unemployment insurance to arrive at the unemployment figures. This is a survey.

  • by edunbar93 ( 141167 ) on Friday August 06, 2004 @10:37PM (#9906051)
    Oh yeah, perks are coming back into fashion alright! Look at the stunning package I get:

    Free ADSL!(I work at an ISP)
    Computer upgrades every 5 years! (for my workstation, not at home)
    Air conditioning! (We just replaced the old clunker at work)
    And, um, an occasional day where the tech support calls aren't so frequent and I can actually get real work done! W00t!
  • Perks? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CountBrass ( 590228 ) on Saturday August 07, 2004 @09:39AM (#9908142)

    Well I currently have: a company car (they pay the insurance and maintenance), a guaranteed 10% of salary additional bonus for each full year I stay, full health care for me and the wife, 24 days holiday. Oh and pension scheme that the employer contributes 5% of my salary to.

    I think that's pretty much standard in the UK- the only thing that's changed for me after 3 months on the dole about 2 years ago was I lost my long service leave entitlement (it used to be 27 days).

When you make your mark in the world, watch out for guys with erasers. -- The Wall Street Journal