People in tech have one big benefit over people in other industries: the awesome workplace perks. We’ve all heard about the free meals, massages, and gym memberships that some companies use to herd all of the best talent their way. And yes, if your particular workplace doesn’t offer high-caliber perks, you might feel a little jealous, or even compelled to look for a more lavish workplace. But hold on for a second there: How do you know for sure that perks will actually make you happier at work?
We all know that money is not the same thing as happiness. If you’ve ever had a cushy job with a less-than-cushy boss, you also know that sometimes a paycheck just isn’t worth working in a toxic environment. Perks that save you money on things like groceries, exercise equipment, or daycare aren’t really that different from extra money in your pocket, and they certainly don’t guarantee a better relationship with your boss.
Most research shows that workplace perks don’t make much of a difference in employee happiness.
The top factors in employee happiness are often cited as fair pay, good working relationships, a sense of autonomy, and recognition for a job well done. When it comes to happiness, financial benefits are really only part of the equation. Of course it’s essential to be paid well for what you do — but do you really need all of the bells and whistles, too?
As attractive as a perk-filled workplace seems, it’s the quality of the perks —not the quantity — that really matters.
Not all companies can offer Google-level perks, and that’s okay. There are dozens of perks that reflect well on a potential employer, but have little to do with how much they are spending on extras. Oftentimes, these “quality” perks come in the form of workplace policies. Pet-friendly offices, casual Fridays, or summer hours, for instance, might not seem as glamorous as free lunch, but they actually might make a bigger impact on your day-to-day job fulfillment.
When you’re looking for your job, seek out perks that show that the employer actually cares about employees and isn’t just aiming to impress.
It’s easy to get starry-eyed when you’re in talks with a big company that offers tons of free stuff, but don’t mistake perks for the qualities you care about most in a job. Perks function in today’s world as a marketing tool that caters to potential employees. Some companies devote an extraordinary amount of time and resources into creating perks that will get your attention. This doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with the perks or the company — it just means that you have to take extra care not to let perks distract you from what’s actually important to you.
Before you jump ship and pick up a new, perk-laden job, challenge yourself to figure out what’s vital to you in your next role, regardless of extras. Perks are fun and interesting for a little while, but having the job you want in an environment you love is a better long-term move for your career and for you.
Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (June 2015). Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You?