The Compensation Game

Piggy BankA recent post over on is getting some traction in social media and the perspectives are interesting.

You will find the post in the Dear Liz Ryan column where a writer poses the question as to why he should accept lower pay in exchange of ‘great benefits’ and a tremendous culture.

In this day and age these kinds of claims are a feeble attempt to justify below market compensation and you would do well to really examine the mechanics of a potential offer that might be made to you.

Many things are held up as benefits that a prospective employee should take into consideration but here are a bunch that are influential perhaps but don’t put cash in your pocket and ostensibly don’t have a monetary value when you look at compensation as a defining factor.

Cultural and environmental factors

  • After work socials
  • Annual holiday parties
  • Beer Friday
  • Business casual attire
  • Dress down Friday
  • A flat organization structure
  • A leadership open door policy
  • A fun or cool work space
  • Free hot and cold beverages
  • Snacks
  • Sports event tickets
  • Flexible work from home plans
  • A nice laptop or mobile devices like tablets
  • Corporate apparel
  • A foosball, ping pong table, mini-golf putting course or slot cars
  • A deck, a patio, picnic tables or a basketball hoop
  • Gym equipment, lockers and/or showers
  • Paid company lunches
  • Retailer discount schemes

pay-day-soon[1]As  compensation plan the  following items are generally accepted as being the norm as part of a compensation package

  • Health plans and benefits
  • Retirement plans and benefits
  • Stock options
  • Personal Performance bonuses
  • Corporate Performance bonuses
  • Paid vacation/time-off
  • Paid sick days
  • Subsidized or paid public transport schemes
  • Subsidized and on-site child care

Although these items have value – they are not cash in hand and ultimately that is a heavily influencing factor for employees particularly those with scarce skills. According to a survey conducted by FastCompany  the top five benefits ranked by employees are :broken piggy bank

  1. Health care insurance (e.g., medical, dental): 40%
  2. Vacation/paid time off: 37%
  3. Performance bonus: 35%
  4. Paid sick days: 32%
  5. 401(k) plan, retirement plan and/or pension: 31%


Some particularly interesting benefits offered by some prominent companies and cited by folks on Glassdoor are :

Google provides the surviving spouse or partner of a deceased employee 50% of their salary for the next 10 years. (Overall benefits rating: 4.6)

Adobe shuts down the entire company for one week in December and one week over the summer. (Overall benefits rating: 4.6)

Facebook provides $4,000 in “Baby Cash” to employees with a newborn. (Overall benefits rating: 4.7)

PwC offers its employees $1,200 per year for student loan debt reimbursement. (Overall benefits rating: 4.0)



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