The job market has been a brutal one for new graduates in recent years. Though more students have been pursuing college and graduate degrees than ever before, jobs have not been growing at the same pace. While the economy seems to be on the rebound now, some new grads are necessarily better poised than others to take advantage of the cresting wave. Most of the employers actively recruiting new graduates are in the engineering and computer science sector. Candidates with this sort of expertise—particularly those with advanced degrees—are often poised not only to land full-time jobs soon out of the gates, but also to be wooed with a number of different perks and signing bonuses. The race to find and keep qualified high-tech workers has led to a virtual playground of opportunities.
While most industry sectors are still smaller than they were before the financial bust of 2008, the high tech sector—which comprises technology-related business, computer engineering, and IT—has grown rapidly, often out of proportion with the number of students studying in these fields. According to a recent article in the Financial Times, technology and computer manufacturing jobs are looking at a 40 million worker shortfall by 2020. “The impact of the skills shortages in such industries is likely to worsen in the next few years, due to the failure by academic institutions to train enough people to high enough standards to keep pace with demand,” the article said. “The extent of the skills deficit will be a huge constraint on the ability of many companies to develop their businesses in the way they want.”
Many companies are responding by upping the benefits and perks they use for recruitment. Standard job benefits include things like health insurance, paid maternity leave, and flexible work schedules. Over the past decade or so, on-site health and fitness centers, child care, and gourmet food have also become somewhat standard, particularly for competitive firms. In the tech word, though, these are usually just the beginning.
Large computer engineering ventures in the Silicon Valley are leading the way by adding family-related perks to their list of hiring incentives. This often includes such things as new baby bonuses and free emergency childcare, meal delivery, and vacation stipends that benefit far more than just the employee. Facebook offers take-home meal services for employees working late, and will also feed family members who come to join a hard-working staffer for dinner on-site. Software company Evernote goes so far as to offer twice-monthly house cleaning.
“Now that technology has allowed work to bleed into home life, it seems that companies are trying to address the impact of home life on work,” The New York Times said in a 2012 survey of some of the most recent trends. “The workplace was built on the assumption that there was somebody at home dealing with the home front,” HR executive Anne Weisberg told the Times. “Not only is that no longer the case, but the work-life pressures seem to be building. There’s a greater awareness that we’re pushing things to the limit and something’s got to give,” she said.
It is true that today’s tech employees work long hours; in most modern companies, innovation and round-the-clock availability are all but fixed job requirements. Though financial compensation is usually very good in these fields, firms are increasingly finding that workers who burn out or grow weary of the constant demands have multiple options for jumping ship.
More robust benefits are in many ways designed to keep talent satisfied as much as to recruit it in the first place. There is, however, a danger that this trend may serve to further blend the intersection between home life and work life. When work cares about and intervenes with the management of the home, new stressors may arise. This new style of compensation, while attractive on the surface, may actually be leading to an irrevocable morphing of time that is personal and that which is company-owned. This has ups and downs, certainly, but should not be overlooked.
To read more from Emma Collins, check out her report on the U.S.’s best MBA programs on the web.