FWD: a question about "atmospheric" benefits

Subject: FWD: a question about "atmospheric" benefits
From: anonfwd -at- raycomm -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 7 Nov 2000 00:41:22 -0700 (MST)

I supervise a group of four tech writers at a medium-sized software
company. We have always hired entry-level or junior people at rather low
salaries, spent a lot of time training them, and then (no surprise) seen
them depart after a year or two for better-paying jobs. I'm currently
preparing a documentation salary-analysis report to present to my
superiors in the technology division and in HR. (I'm suggesting boosting
standard salaries by several thousands.) We'll then have a meeting to
address my findings. It's been a rough year for us and reducing staff
turnover is becoming a big priority, so I think this is a golden
opportunity to address a long-standing problem.

What I need help with is the following. One of my superiors has always
insisted that certain company traditions like flexible work hours, casual
dress, and bi-weekly free lunches go a long way toward making up for our
low salaries. A quote: "You're not wearing a suit right now. That's a
company benefit." However, aren't these perks so ubiquitous right now in
software that they don't really constitute an exceptional work atmosphere?
I know he will bring this up during the salary-discussion meeting, and I
would like to be able to have a more effective response than my usual,
"Well, I don't think that's true." (I would prefer, "I asked a lot of
very reputable professionals and they thought. . .")

The only perk I think we offer that really is worth some money is the fact
that we very rarely have to work more than 40 hours a week. There are
maybe six times a year when I have to come in over the weekend or do work
at night. This is worth a certain amount of money to me, since I'm aware
many people in software work much longer hours.

This is a list of our "atmospheric" fringes: can you all let me know
whether you think any of these (and which ones) make up for lower pay?

free lunch every other week
free coffee, tea, and cocoa
flexible work hours
occasional telecommuting acceptable (once a week is the standard)
casual dress
a standard 40-hour week

I would appreciate any responses as soon as possible--I'm mailing out the
salary document and scheduling the meeting today.

Many thanks.

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