Salary, not 'fun perks', attract IT talent

A good pay package is still the best draw to attract and keep employees, note recruiters. However, tech firms say offering "fun perks" at work provides similar appeal.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor on

Money speaks and a good salary package is the key factor that determines whether a potential jobseeker joins the company or an existing employee stays on, recruiters said. However, tech companies think "fun perks" can have a similar effect on today's workforce.

Axer Goh, manager of contracting division at Robert Walters, highlighted to ZDNet Asia that the "ultimate factor" that motivates many job candidates is the money on offer. This is the first thing most potential employees would think of upon taking up a new role, she noted.

"I have yet to come across a candidate who is more interested to find out about non-monetary job perks than the pay package provided by a new employer," she said in her e-mail.

Annie Lim, manager of IT commerce at Robert Walters, added to Goh's observations, saying that as the job market in the technology sector continues to pick up, job seekers and employees are factoring higher salary increments in their decision-making.

Gavin Henshaw, head of Kelly IT Resources, a specialist division within recruitment firm Kelly Services, concurred that a competitive salary will always play an important part in an applicant's decision-making process.

He noted in his e-mail that non-monetary perks are usually considered by people as "luxuries and non-essential" and will not be able to help retain staff.

Goh, however, said additional perks do "help retain talent to a certain extent" as employees are less likely to be actively exploring external work opportunities if they are happy in their current workplace.

Companies dangle perks
Despite the recruiters' assertions that salary remains the top draw for most potential and existing employees, IT companies ZDNet Asia spoke to said that "fun perks" play an equally important role in attracting top talent.

Myriam Boublil, head of communications and public affairs at Google Southeast Asia, for one, said "people don't join or stay with a company for money only". It is with this in mind that Google is "committed to providing its employees with benefits that encourage work-life balance and make employees' time at work as enjoyable and productive as possible", she added.

Elaborating on the company's work philosophy, she noted that besides a "competitive compensation package, which comprises of salary, yearly bonuses, and equity grants", all Google offices, including Singapore, have game rooms with Nintendo Wii consoles and pool tables, massage chairs, and cafes offering free meals all day. All these features are included to ensure that "work is challenging yet fun", she said.

"Our people are our greatest assets and we will always look after them so they are able to keep creating, inventing, finding solutions and breaking boundaries," Boublil noted in an e-mail.

Google's employee-centric approach appears to have paid off. The search giant was ranked fourth in Fortune magazine's "100 Best Companies to Work For" this year.

Scott Morris, managing director at NetApp Asean, also emphasized that today's employees have "different priorities and an increasingly bigger pay packet can no longer ensure employee loyalty". Studies have shown that employees who are happy and have job satisfaction are productive, he added in his e-mail.

"Happy employees are more willing to ride through the tough times with the employer and have a greater sense of ownership. This, in turn, manifests itself in happy customers and partners, thus favorably contributing to our bottom line," Morris elaborated.

Ranked fifth in Fortune's list of top places to work for, data storage firm NetApp also has "simple practices [in its Singapore office] to make coming to work more fun" such as breakfast gatherings on Fridays, free espressos daily and fruits weekly, the executive noted.

Social gaming company Zynga also believes in providing incentives to employees to reward them for their work. Colleen McCreary, the firm's chief people officer, said Zynga is "proud to offers its employees [in San Francisco] great perks such as free weekday meals, haircuts, massages, and bringing their dogs to work."

"Offering fun perks is a way for Zynga to give back to our staff in special ways," she explained in an e-mail. "They work hard and we want to make sure they feel appreciated, rewarded and cared for."

Career progression also important
Beyond these fun perks though, Kelly IT Resources' Henshaw pointed out that other offerings such as training and career progression may be more beneficial to employees in the long run.

"A great working environment is a bonus, [but] it is of less importance if it is not matched with personal reward and benefit," he stated.

Morris concurred. He said that NetApp nurtures its people and provides opportunities for career progression and expansion within the company, which is why preference is given to internal candidates for new job offerings.

Boublil, too, stressed that "Google is all about learning and offers many training and career development programs and initiatives". For instance, its engineers are placed under a "20 percent time" program that allows them to work on independent projects which interests them yet does not fall under their usual job scope, she explained.

Editorial standards