Hackernoon logoTech companies: these are the perks (and benefits) I want. by@taravox

Tech companies: these are the perks (and benefits) I want.

Tara Vox Hacker Noon profile picture

@taravoxTara Vox

I don’t care about video games, NERF guns, or kegs in the kitchen.

We’ve all heard about offices with video game lounges, NERF guns, and kegs in the kitchen. These things are cool and all but let’s be real, they don’t mean that much. Especially when a company cultivates a culture that enforces the idea that if you’re not putting in 20 hour days, you’re not doing enough. A culture that can (and often does) lead to burn out and fails to meet basic needs of employees like encouraging a healthy work-life balance and providing paid leave for parents and parents-to-be.

So, here are a list of perks I actually care about.

A culture that embraces remote work

Seriously, this is the tech industry. Why don’t more tech companies embrace it and open their doors to people around the world? With tools like Slack, GoToMeeting, and, dare I say, email, the need for a person to literally be in the same room has practically disappeared.

But even if a company for one reason or another isn’t ready to embrace remote work, it shouldn’t be a big deal for me to work from home once a week or choose to work from a cafe in Paris for a month. As long as it’s not negatively impacting my work, it should be a non-issue.

Unlimited PTO

The main argument I’ve heard against unlimited PTO is, “Then everyone will disappear for six months!” To which I say, “What’s your company doing that would make employees want to leave for six months?

Image from Pexels

Employees are a company’s greatest asset and they should be treated as such. I should be trusted to maintain my own work-life balance and if I’m on vacation, let me be on vacation. No expectation of answering emails. (I had a manager who told me I had to check and respond to emails every day while on vacation. Needless to say, I quit).

Bonus points to companies like FullContact that encourage employees to take at least three weeks off each year.

Flex-time

This could be qualified as a form of PTO or remote work, but I think it needs to be called out specifically.

If everyone works 9–5 but my schedule works best if I work from 8–12 and 3–7, then let me do that. If I decide I want to take the afternoon off to take my dog to the park because it’s the first nice day in two weeks, I should be trusted to make up that time later if I think it’s necessary. If one of my coworkers wants to see their child’s school recital at 2pm, they should be able to do so without requesting time-off.

(Equal) paid parental leave

Just because I have no plans to start a family any time soon doesn’t mean I think my coworkers should be punished for choosing to do so.

It’s crap that so many women receive no pay when on maternity leave and have to rely on FMLA to protect their jobs. So if a potential employer doesn’t value employees enough to pay them while on maternity leave, I have zero interest in working there.

Image from Unsplash

The same goes for men. If a guy wants to take paternity leave or has to take paternity leave, it should be paid and last at least a month. It’s harder to find companies that provide this kind of support to fathers and fathers-to-be but tech companies need to take notice; especially since so many of their employees are men to begin with.

Career growth stipend/reimbursement

I’m adamant about maintaining a healthy work-life balance, but I’m also adamant about progressing in my career. That means I want a company to respect and value when I choose to attend conferences or enroll in courses that’ll build on my existing skills or challenge me to learn new ones.

Salary transparency

We all know that white women make less than white men but have you considered how that compounds if you’re not a white person? Especially if you’re a black or hispanic woman? The wage gap generally compounds itself the more marginalized communities a person belongs to.

While I don’t know what the specific solution should be, I’ve got a few ideas. Each company could implement a Glassdoor solution where employees can see the range of salaries for a specific position, a salary calculator like Buffer’s, or even something as simple as positing a salary range with each job listing.

Image from Pexels.

Regardless, creating some kind of baseline awareness of salary expectations for a specific position and promoting a culture where employees can be open about their salary is important to establishing pay equity. It’s especially important for women who are less likely to ask for raises and promotions, and are less likely to negotiate their salary.

Menstrual products provided in the restroom

Yep, I said it. If a company is so willing to splurge on a PS3, Wii, a keg and restocking it with beer, or even snacks and catered lunches, why aren’t they willing to pay for pads and tampons for the employees who need them? Perhaps it’s because tech seems to be dominated by males and males don’t get periods?

Make the workplace more inclusive and show that you value people with periods by making sure they won’t be caught without a pad or tampon when their period shows up.

Ultimately, I’d like to see tech — and all companies — get to a place where the perks I’ve mentioned are all a given. There are more perks I could add to this list but I know it’s going to take awhile before all this happens. But that won’t stop me from expecting and demanding a more inclusive work environment that values all employees.

I spend a lot of time thinking about books, writing about life, and learning to code. If you’re interested in following my journey to become a programmer, you can follow me on Medium. If you’re a woman in tech who feels like an imposter: I can relate. Feel free to reach out to me, we can talk tech and help shed our imposter syndrome together.

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