Silicon Valley has long been known not only for its tech jobs, but for the lavish perks that come with them, like free gourmet meals and on-site recreation.
With the pandemic-triggered rise in remote work at tech companies, some of the perks designed to make employees happy to come into the office every day have subsided. In March 2022, Meta famously cut its employees’ laundry perk, leaving them to wash and fold their own clothes or pay someone else to do it.
Still, tech companies remain known for offering some of the most expansive employer perks and benefits, and not just in Silicon Valley. Startups and corporations alike — the latter of which often rely on large tech departments in every city — tend to offer sweet perks to stay competitive and attract top talent.
You can assume that most offer healthcare benefits, 401K retirement plans, parental leave, paid time off and other basics. But many also offer bigger, less common perks. If you’re interviewing for tech jobs, remember to compare and contrast perks, some of which can be life-altering.
Here’s what to look out for in job postings:
Yes, really, it’s a thing. Once seen as radical and still uncommon, unlimited paid time off allows employees to balance periods of hard work with rest, family time and recreation. It also means no stressing about using up sick days. While employers tend to worry that employees will take advantage of having no limit to paid days off, research has shown that in reality, employees actually use less PTO when it’s unlimited (something to be aware of if you get a job with this benefit).
“We put it in place in response to the idea that we wanted to create this culture of work-life balance by taking out the restrictions around PTO and how it’s used and when it’s used,” said Melinda Ramos, former director of talent and diversity at the Brownstein Group, in a 2019 interview. “Creating an unlimited PTO policy allowed us to keep it flexible. … Also, from a recruiting standpoint, it’s a big seller.”
Childcare expenses can greatly reduce the amount of money an employee actually takes home, with average daycare costs around $1,000 per month in many US cities. This can be a retention issue, as new parent employees may decide to take on stay-at-home parent duties rather than deal with the stress and expense of daycare. If you have or plan to have young children, and you plan to work in an office at least part time, an onsite daycare center can be a huge benefit.
Option to work remotely
Giving employees the choice of working from home, in the office or a combination of both (hybrid work) has become increasingly common since the pandemic, as more and more employers have made it known that they prefer to work from home at least some of the time.
This trend is especially common in the tech industry, and it’s one that may help increase gender equality in the workplace.
“While I’m a huge advocate of working dads who also step up at home, the reality is that policies like hybrid workplaces will open the door for many more moms to pursue their career goals,” wrote tech executive Heather Combs in a 2021 guest post. “A March 2021 US Census Bureau population survey found that 80% of American workers who left the workforce since the Covid-19 pandemic began were women. Perhaps unsurprisingly, of men in the top 1% of earners, 70% have a stay-at-home spouse — but only 22% of top-earning women have the same. Hybrid workplaces and work flexibility can be one solution to achieving more gender parity in senior leadership.”
It can be a challenge to do volunteer work when so much of it happens during regular work hours. The volunteer PTO perk allows you to take paid time off to do volunteer work, and it sometimes includes donation matching and other incentives.
Some companies offer volunteer PTO for working at election polls, or even offer paid time off for volunteering at the polls that doesn’t require an employee to use up their regular volunteer PTO.
Pre-pandemic, an onsite employee gym was a coveted perk, making it convenient to work out before or after work. More common is a gym membership benefit, saving you from monthly gym fees. If working out at the gym is a priority for you, this perk, though relatively small, can make your life easier.
Extended parental leave
Few companies offer a full year of parental leave after the birth of adoption of a baby, but they do exist in the US, if rare; Netflix is one example (though as of 2015, the perk was not extended to all employees). Six-month paid parental leave is out there too, as are companies that will give both parents paid leave, usually for three months. Some tech companies also offer a bonus to be spent on the baby.
If you can’t land a full year of parental leave, many tech companies ease employees back into the office with infant daycare and nursing rooms. These nursing rooms are more than a partitioned corner or dedicated bathroom — they’re comfortable rooms with modern nursing equipment that allow the new parent to spend time with their baby during the day for feedings. Sometimes the daycare part of this benefit lasts for a limited amount of time.
“My employer [a major banking corporation] had a childcare center at our location,” said Janelle Bowman, owner of Couture Greek and former marketing manager for Zip Code Wilmington, in a 2019 interview. “Mothers returning back to work after maternity leave were able to bring their newborns there for up to eight weeks. It truly made the transition of being back to work a lot easier. We also had at least three lactation rooms available for any nursing mothers.”
Any decent health plan includes mental health care, but some tech companies go above and beyond, offering in-house (or virtual) mental health care, regular destressing sessions such as deep breathing exercises, group therapy and specialized culturally relevant care, such as Tarsha Wiggins’ Trap Therapy.
“Mental illness is closer than you think,” Wiggins said in an interview this month. “Sometimes we think, ‘It’s that person.’ In reality, it might be that person at work, your best friend, your auntie, or your uncle. Or it’s yourself. I thought, ‘I’m just going to get out here — I’m going to talk to people about uncomfortable things in a comfortable way.’”
Reclaiming the time spent on long commutes is one reason remote work remains popular with workers. But if you have to commute, even if it’s not daily, commuter benefits are a valuable perk, especially as gas prices remain high.
The benefit could be anything from a shuttle that takes you home (more common in urban areas) to employer-provided rail passes or gas cards, as with the new SEPTA Key Advantage program.
Onsite (sometimes “wacky”) amenities
These are the fun perks people often think of when they think of tech jobs — beer on tap, free food, gourmet coffee machines, pool and ping-pong tables, onsite arcades and even spas are there to sweeten the deal and make work feel less like a slog (especially if you’re expected to work long hours). Some of these amenities, like beer kegs, have become less ubiquitous over the years, while amenities for relaxation remain fairly popular.
With fewer tech workers in the office due to the rise in remote and hybrid work, some companies are, as with Meta’s laundry services, investing less in onsite perks, especially the “wacky” perks that Fast Company declared dead in 2021.
Instead, research has found that most of all, employees want respect — which you can see reflected in some of the increasingly popular perks like flexibility, paid time off and mental health support.
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