Are your employee perks a turn off?

By Chris Devonshire | 19th October 2022

Are your employee perks a turn off? Employers are working hard to retain their employees in the battle for top tech talent. Sometimes this manifests as creating perks that we think employees will love, but are a hard no.

When we’re looking to motivate people, we often turn to perks. Unlimited holidays, free lunches, gym membership. The list is endless. But how valuable are these employee perks and do they have the desired effect?

Or do they leave your tech talent running for the hills?

What do tech employees really want?

Do you know the answer? If you have it spot on, then leave a comment and share what works for you.

If you’re scratching your head and wondering why your amazing unlimited holidays perk is resulting in no one taking a holiday, you might need to think a little harder.

The anti-perks

Been thinking about anti-perks in tech jobs.

What perks *sound* good but are a hard no from you?

This was a tweet from a developer relations pro and podcaster, directed to tech workers. It garnered A LOT of enthusiastic responses.

There were some clear consistent ‘winners’ (anti-perks) that were regularly referenced, and some that might surprise employers.

We’ve pulled a few of the responses together to share with you.

Unlimited vacation.

Feels like: wow, so much vacation and flexibility!

Actually is: a way to dodge paying out vacation to departing employees; reduced vacation due to unclear expectations; varied/inconsistent application by team/manager at the very least.


I have never once, not a single time, been in a situation where Employee Stock Grants/Purchase Programs were ever worth it. They are just loyalty traps.


stock *options*


Yearly ski trip. Yeah, no thanks.


Wellness programs on the whole can be a real minefield. I really don’t need more toxic positivity in my life; I’d rather my employer just pay for my annual ski pass or something.


Dinner. It’s passive aggressive. [laughing face]


Alcohol filled fridges at the office; I do not want to be around drunk co-workers in the office, and it tends to turn into boy-clubs.


We will pay you for as much overtime as you are comfortable with” Did not go well for me, I felt obliged to overperform and burnt out from too many hours.


Team building activities, team vacations, team getaways. I don’t want to go to the Bahamas with Dennis from accounting I want to sit on my ass all summer and play video games


Campus culture – e.g. “we provide all three of your meals every day and have an on-site bar” (translation: we expect you to be in the office from breakfast until dinner and only socialise with our employees)


Free yoga in the office. Yoga is supposed to be stress-free, can’t relax in the same space as the people who bust my balls all day.


Anything that involves enforced ‘fun’ – brings me out in a rash at the very thought.


Team building anything. Hard no. Please leave me alone.


The perks tech talent does not want

While this is not a definite list, and entirely based on this Twitter thread, here are the top anti-perks that featured regularly:

  1. Unlimited holiday
  2. Open plan offices
  3. Team building events – basically anything outside of working hours
  4. Alcohol in offices
  5. Wellbeing – specifically onsite gyms, nap pods

It seems that anything that has an angle that can be construed as manipulative, has the potential to fall into an anti-perk. See some of the responses above to understand how these perceived ‘perks’ have underlying ‘terms and conditions’ that just don’t sit right with employees.

What perks do tech talent want?

With the go-to perks shrouded in such suspicion, what perks do tech talent, or employees of any industry, for that matter, want?

We don’t have the answer for that. If we did, it would be packaged up in a box with a little red bow that would undoubtedly cost employers the earth.

Hearing from tech talent daily, does give us more insight into the reality of what they want in an organisation and benefits. Because they can be more open with recruiters.

What employees seem to favour is a company culture that reflects their values. That pays them what they’re worth and empowers employees to be the best at their job.

So, less of the headline perks that raise a suspicious brow, and are only valuable on the surface, and more of what employees need.


Looking for an IT job that delivers exactly this? Get in touch with our amazing IT recruiters and let’s talk careers. Or explore our latest IT jobs.

Until next time,

Chris Devonshire

Co-found – Devonshire Hayes