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Do Developers Need Free Perks To Thrive? 524

jammag writes "Free sodas, candy and energy bars can be surprisingly important to developers, says longtime coder Eric Spiegel. They need the perks, not to mention the caffeine boost. More important, free sodas from management are like the canary in the coal mine. If they get cut, then layoffs might be next. 'The sodas are just the wake-up call. If the culture changes to be focused more on cost-cutting than on innovation and creativity, then would you still want to work here? I wouldn't.' Are free perks really that important?"
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Do Developers Need Free Perks To Thrive?

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  • It's all BS. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by scorp1us ( 235526 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @03:16PM (#43785111) Journal

    I've been in software development for 15 years now and I never had any of the stuff provided. And I'm glad they didn't. I'd be a fat turd now with diabetes. And the caffeine rush only lasts for about 15 minutes. So it's a myth. You'd be better off putting the money towards better tools, or a in-house better tools program (unassigned work time) so developers can pursue pet projects.

  • The best perk (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spaceyhackerlady ( 462530 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @03:24PM (#43785215)

    The best perk for me has always been interesting work in a congenial environment. Everything else is secondary. It helps to be a senior person, so my tasks are usually along the lines of "Figure out $newtechnology. Find a way for the company to make money with it."

    I've worked for a number of companies who did the "we pay less but we're such a great place to work!" thing. Someday I'd like to at least visit a "we pay lots but it sucks to work here" company, just to see what it's like.


  • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @04:10PM (#43785959) Homepage Journal

    One company I worked for not only didn't provide coffee and drinks, they didn't provide coffee machines or drink dispenser machines. Even worse, they forbid coffee machines at the desk.

    Not because of power supply issues, no.

    Because they gave the cafeteria company an exclusive contract to supply beverages to the entire staff.

    So instead of having coffee clubs like I did at most places I worked over the years, I was expected to pay nearly $2 for a sixteen ounce shitty cafeteria coffee. And I wasn't supposed to have them any time except 10, 12, and 2.

    I quit.

  • 100% dental (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @05:53PM (#43787679)
    I worked for a company where we had 100% dental for just about any procedure; it was awesome. Our company was purchased by a stodgy company run by 60 year old suits so I quit. Weeks later the first thing to go was the 100% dental. Two years later 95% of the staff were gone with only the most useless paper pushers remaining; basically people who couldn't move on.

    What I have discovered with programmers is that the good ones are quite smart and don't take much crap. So a clear and fair salary system that is open works far better than the pretending that nobody blabs their and any other salaries that they know. If you want to quickly empty out a room of your best programmers reveal that some useless stump of a manger earns 3 times as much and blew at least one of their salaries on travel.

    Or if you want them to quit after a few weeks of seething then just do a nepotism hire and put him in charge of "code reviews".

    The key is not so much that perks make or break an environment but that they indicate a respect for the programmers. Often programmers are somewhat trapped in the office while the marketing and management get to travel and wine and dine clients. Thus throwing them some bones such as food and conference travel balances out the equation. But once management starts to act like the programmers are a bunch of undeserving brats it is game over.

    One company that I particularly enjoyed quitting from would have the upper management basically give customer tours of the programmers like we were a zoo exhibit.

    The best part of when they cut a perk and lose programmers is how many of the management seem to think that the pathetic losers quit because they took away the free drinks or some such. Then they get angry when they realize how development has screeched to a halt when the only 3 competent programmers just took off. I have even heard accusations of sabotage.

FORTRAN is the language of Powerful Computers. -- Steven Feiner