what to offer to be the best possible employer ever

This will likely be an ongoing series as time progresses, but here are a handful of thoughts on how to really WOW your employees (or potential employees). Some of these ideas were garnered from my personal thought and observations, some from former employers, and some from other sources including “A Field Guide to Developers“, Fog Creek, Opsware, and Google.

  • Automatically “match” up to x% of an employee’s 401(k) – but deposit it (on a vesting schedule) regardless of whether the employee participates or not
    • Maybe you pick where the money gets distributed (target retirement funds, for example), but do it
    • Your employees will LOVE you (eventually)
  • Increase your level of 401(k) match based on loyalty – the longer someone works for you, the better it should be
  • Fully-fund some level of “good” health care coverage – regardless of whether the employee is single or married
    • Let the employee choose to go higher out of their pocket if they want, but pick a “good” option for everyone at a bare minimum (maybe a 70/30 plan with a modest deductible)
  • Competitive salary
    • Offer your best on the first try
    • Ironically, this is the least important item on the list – be competitive, but offering your best the first shot means the candidate can evaluate with no ambiguity
  • Give good standard corporate paid holidays and vacation
    • Minimum holidays (in the US) – 11-13.
      • New Year’s Day
      • President’s Day
      • Good Friday
      • Memorial Day
      • Independence Day
      • Labor Day
      • Columbus Day
      • Election Day
      • Thanksgiving Day (and the day after)
      • Christmas Eve (if a weekday)
      • Christmas Day
      • Day after Christmas (if a weekday)
    • Minimum vacation
      • 3 weeks
      • 4 weeks is better
    • Reward loyalty with better vacation accruals
  • Great work space
    • For appropriate jobs, offer up to 100% remote work
    • For everyone, make sure you have full offices for your people
    • Ample meeting rooms
  • Great equipment
    • There is no excuse to not give your employees the best equipment money can buy
      • Great tools make the work better
      • This does not mean you buy everything, you buy the best for what you need
    • eg For tech folks, let them choose the workstation / laptop they want
  • In-office perks (ie, for folks who come into the office)
    • Free drinks
    • Free snacks
    • Free meals
    • Free childcare
  • Education / personal development
    • Cover related classes (or create appropriate classes) for your staff to improve their skills for the business
    • Give everyone a book/tool allowance – and let them keep the books if they leave
  • Certifications
    • Pay for at least the first try of a work-related certification exam for appropriate employees
  • Allow salary / compensation information to be “public” within the company
    • Don’t bar employees from discussing how much they make
    • Every compensation package may be on a per-person basis (raises, bonuses, etc), but it’s not a secret
  • Put everything in writing
    • All benefits need to be in writing – bonus structures, profit sharing, etc