by Sharon Florentine

The 6 employee benefits job candidates want most

Nov 19, 2018
CareersSalariesStaff Management

Looking to hire great talent? Just the right benefits package could tip the scale. Here are the perks that can help you fill key roles fast.

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Credit: Thinkstock

Companies can go to extreme lengths to lure and retain tech talent — from office puppies to on-site massages to catered meals. But which benefits actually matter to the talent they’re trying to recruit and hire?

Textio, an augmented writing platform, scrutinized the performance of 75 benefits in more than 300 million job posts to see which perks actually attract IT job seekers and speed up hiring time.

“By far, the ‘standard bearers’ of company benefits did have a positive impact on hiring time: leave, insurance and financial incentives, so I wouldn’t ditch those,” says Kieran Snyder, co-founder of Textio. “But do you need to offer onsite massage? It has no impact on hiring. How about that climbing wall? Nope. Concierge services? Nada. Puppies? Please, tell me dogs in the office made the cut!? Definitely not (neither did puppy leave).”

It turns out that bread-and-butter benefits, along with flexibility and work-life-balance benefits, are in greatest demand from IT job-seekers. According to a recent survey of 293 technology business leaders from The Consumer Technology Association (CTA), more traditional benefits are the most important to current and potential employees, with health insurance being the most important non-salary benefit, with 91 percent giving it top priority.

But beyond a competitive salary, paid time off, and health insurance, what benefits should your organization consider offering to lure today’s top tech talent? Here we look at the six perks employees value most.

Performance-based incentives

Incentive compensation, like bonuses, followed closely behind health insurance in the CTA’s survey, with 88 percent of respondents saying it was vital to their hiring and retention efforts. Whether this benefit comes in the form of cash bonuses, profit sharing or stock options, companies that offer these types of benefits can expect to fill vacant roles 19.5 days faster than companies that don’t, according to Textio’s analysis.

Flexible work arrangements and telecommuting

Flexible work arrangements, including flexible scheduling and remote working capabilities, are another attractive perk, with 86 percent of CTA survey respondents noting their importance in attracting and retaining employees over the next five years.

Recent research from reveals that the ability to work at home is more valuable to tech pros than increased compensation. Some 36 percent of respondents say they’d take a 10 percent pay cut to be able to work from home at least half the time. Another 17 percent would give up 11-20 percent of their income, while 10 percent are willing to take drastic cuts of 21 percent or more to be able to work elsewhere.

“I’m not advocating for a cut in pay, but most tech pros could probably negotiate some kind of work-from-home deal,” says George McFerran, executive vice president at Dice. “And for organizations that can’t compete on salary to get that elite tech talent, offering remote and telecommuting options — even just part of the time or a few days a week — means they’ll be able to land those great hires.”

Caregiver leave

Being able to take time away from work to care for a child, an elderly parent, a spouse or partner or another family member in need is a critical benefit for job-seekers. Recent research from smart home technology solutions company TruSense reveals that caring for an elderly or adult dependent is negatively affecting career opportunities, especially for middle-aged men.

According to the TrueSense report, 10 percent of respondents who have ever worked say time spent away from work to provide care for an elderly family member/friend or adult dependent has negatively impacted their career opportunities. That percentage almost doubles to 19 percent for men aged 45 to 54.

“It’s incredibly common in today’s workforce that employees have to take time to care for their relatives and/or parents — even elderly friends. And those employees’ careers have been impacted negatively,” says Rob Deubell, vice president of TruSense. “Women have historically done the bulk of this type of caretaking and have been more negatively impacted, but we see the gender roles start to change and shift as we look at the generations. What we also have to consider, and why this type of leave is so important, is that the average amount of time spent doing this kind of caretaking is 20 hours a week. And that’s not counting time spent caring for children, which doubles the demands.”

Offering time specifically to meet caregiving demands other than for children is going to become an imperative, Deubell says, as the number of people over 55 grows.

Companies offering this type of leave benefit can expect to fill available roles 23.5 days faster than those that don’t, according to Textio’s analysis.

Career development and training

Training and development remain important for IT pros seeking to keep their skills sharp in a fast moving job market. According to the CTA survey, technical and high-skills training were viewed as very important to 80 percent of respondents. Moreover, 74 percent remarked that professional development programs to hone soft skills were very important to their employees, with another 44 percent seeing tuition reimbursement programs as vital for hiring and retaining top talent in the coming years.

Adoption leave

The adoption process is not only costly, it’s extremely lengthy and time-consuming. Potential adoptive parents need ample time for applications, travel, interviews, screenings, home visits and the like, not to mention time to bond with a new family member or members once adoption is complete. Companies that offer this type of leave can expect to fill roles 22.0 days faster than companies that don’t, according to Textio’s data.

On-site gym and/or wellness programs

“Clearly, leave is important, but if you must have one ‘Silicon Valley style’ perk on offer, it should be an on-site gym,” Textio’s Snyder says. Textio data also shows that companies offering an on-site gym fill positions 19.7 days faster than companies that don’t offer this benefit.

But if an on-site gym isn’t possible for your organization, wellness programs, including gym memberships and weight management programs, can be attractive to potential hires, with 46 percent of respondents to the CTA survey rating such benefits as very important to their hiring and retention efforts.

Final note

It’s also important to note that the language you use when crafting your job descriptions is important, Textio’s Snyder says. Textio’s analysis shows that, while offering “vacation” as a benefit can actually slow down your hiring process, “leave” is clearly a necessity for job-seekers.

“The fact that ‘vacation’ can actually slow down the hiring process just goes to show that how you talk about your leave will impact who applies. Language is always changing, and ‘leave’ is hot today, whereas ‘vacation’ is passé,” Snyder says.