As demand for software engineers increases, employers are looking for ways to distinguish themselves from other businesses that are hiring. Companies are trying to offer the most attractive package within their means while leaving room for an employee’s growth.
Agile, the IT staffing agency, frequently advises businesses about compensation trends. Here are the firm’s findings from speaking with thousands of candidates each year about software developer benefits and perks.
According to Justin Ellis, Agile’s recruiting team lead, salary remains the most important factor for most job seekers. Growing competition for developer talent is also driving up the salaries that employers are offering.
“If a company recruits for a senior-level developer but offers $100,000 while everyone else offers $130,000, it’ll have a difficult time with hiring. Smaller companies and startups have to manage expectations, both internally and for candidates.” (For more background on developer salaries, see recent stats from Agile’s tech recruiters.)
In general, employers should try to offer total compensation at or above 90% of the local market. This only includes pay that affects the employee’s W-2, which may incorporate an annual bonus.
Speaking of annual bonuses, Ellis says that these have lost some of their appeal as software developer benefits.
“More and more, IT workers are looking for guaranteed money and not compensation that might be out of their control.” Ellis notes the same challenge with employers that offer stock at a discount. Managing the sale of stock and its tax impact requires more effort, and with candidates receiving multiple offers, they may just choose to go with a different employer.
Health insurance remains the second most important feature of software developer benefits packages.
“In the Atlanta area, we see a number of companies that pay 100% of healthcare costs,” Ellis says. “As a result, employers sometimes adjust their overall salary offer.” A tech staffing agency like Agile can help clients with balancing these different aspects of compensation.
Candidates are also becoming savvier about the impact of health costs on their take-home pay. They’re going beyond just asking whether a company offers benefits, requesting instead to see the benefits summary so that they know the amount coming out of gross pay. This type of analysis lets candidates compare offers more easily. Employers can prepare for these requests by reviewing the numbers in advance and providing transparency to make choosing the job offer easier.
Remote work is becoming a standard part of a developer’s compensation package. Ellis states, “When we talk to candidates, no one wants to be in traffic. Work from home is a big quality-of-life boost. It can also improve the quality of code since employees spend less time on the road and more time focusing on their craft.”
Not every company is organized in a way that allows 100% remote work. As IT recruiters, Agile’s team can advise employers about what candidates are expecting and helps identify areas of compromise.
“One to two days of remote work per week is common,” Ellis says. Beyond that, software developer benefits and perks can include flexible work hours. Employers can arrange to have developers come in and leave outside of peak traffic times.
The amount of paid time off that an employer provides can make a big difference for a candidate who’s comparing multiple offers. By giving extensive or even unlimited time away from the office for high-performing workers, they can create a competitive advantage.
“PTO is a really useful lever for employers having trouble matching salary with other businesses,” says Ellis. “It’s something they can control without a big budget hit.”
Employers may need to change the way that they structure work in cases of unlimited time off. For example, they may have to alter how they evaluate the developer’s contributions and schedule frequent check-ins.
In addition to the perks listed above, employers have had success with other offerings, including:
While these features of a position alone may not make the difference for every candidate, they can impact the decision-making process when combined with other compensation.
Of course, salary and benefits aren’t the only reasons that developers choose a position. Ellis says, “Companies that show they work in the latest languages and frameworks, offer a path for growth, have a culture that fits the candidate, and respect their work-life balance can sometimes compete with businesses that offer more in pay.” By providing a complementary mix of both, employers can attract exceptional candidates.