Benefits I Care About in 2019
Jonathan Wong / February 09, 2019
4 min read • ––– views
I was recently in the job hunt before starting my new position at Hy-Vee. During that experience, I learned a lot about what benefits I like and dislike. Through some self-reflection, I've put together a list of benefits I care about. I think this goes without saying, but these are simply my opinions - your mileage may vary.
- Talented co-workers. Above everything else, I want to be surrounded by smart people who will push me to learn, grow exponentially, and progress in my career.
- Flexible hours and remote work. After a three-month stint working remotely abroad, there's no way I could go back to a typical 9-5 desk job. Ideally, I'll work from home at least one day a week. I think 100% remote work is excellent, but not for everyone.
- Personal health. Having a culture with a healthy work-life balance that doesn't promote burnout is critical. A culture focused around personal health that has adequate health coverage as well as some sort of gym package (on-site or stipend).
- Autonomy. Does your manager give you the freedom to make decisions in your area of expertise? Do they trust and value your opinion? Do they go to battle for you? Do they set clear expectations?
- Working with industry standards. Are the main programming languages widely used? Does the company value open-source software? How much internal software is being used? From my experience working with languages that were not industry standard, it can be a nightmare just trying to find a simple answer on Google. If you happen to encounter a bug, you might not have the community support needed to get it patched and released in a timely manner.
- Office location and environment. Transitioning from my last job to my current role, I cut my commute in half saving ~40 minutes a day. That time really adds up and you can put a price to it. Ideally, the office has lots of natural light and proper space for everyone (not four people crammed at one desk). I honestly don't mind open office plans that much if you have the flexibility to work remotely.
- A culture of open communication. Are there frequent meetings with your boss (and bosses)? Is the feedback loop short? Are meetings that don't provide value reduced to an email? Are developers given large, open blocks of time to focus on coding? Does executive management seek feedback and continuously improve their processes?
My list for what I don't care about is much shorter. I'm not too jaded (...yet).
- Game rooms. I mean, I get it. I see the appeal and why it's pushed as a recruiting tool. But in practice, I've never wanted a ping-pong break in between coding sessions. Some people treat it as "culture building" but in my opinion, if you satisfy the above criteria for benefits, then you already have a pretty amazing culture. I'd rather build comradery with my teammates over a great lunch than darts.
- Dog-friendly / kid friendly. Let's be honest - most of the time someone brings their new puppy to work they are distracting everyone. I don't think I really need to elaborate more on a child. I see the benefit, and hey maybe your kid/dog is well behaved and can handle it, but it's not for me.
- Beer on tap. Having a social hour and beer on tap is nice, but I don't mind if it isn't there. I think an occasional company event or team outing suffices.
Ultimately, it comes down to the culture the company wants to promote. If their pitch to me is "We have beer on tap and a game room!"... that's going to be a hard pass. The more senior your engineers get, the more you have to sell them on the position. A better way to pique my interest would be something like this:
"You'll work with industry leaders in your area and you'll have the flexibility to work remotely whenever necessary."