Main image of article Survey Results: Tech Professionals Want Pay, Not Perks

Last week, we asked you if better (and more) benefits were more enticing than a pay increase. You’ve spoken, and the results are clear: You want more cash.

By a margin of 4:1, tech professionals would rather have more pay. But while that may seem fairly cut-and-dry, it’s not.

We posted the survey to both Dice Insights and the Dice Facebook page, and it created a divergence. Via Insights, 35 percent of respondents said they wanted better perks. On Facebook, 15 percent of respondents said perks matter more to them. To that, we have to wonder if context may have been lost in the social translation; it’s entirely possible Facebook elicits the drive-by response without the respondent giving it deep thought.

Whatever the case, we’re a bit troubled by the results. Not because tech professionals want more money (because, really, who wouldn’t) but because there’s little hope tech pros will get more pay without up-skilling. Our data shows pay for tech professionals has plateaued in general, but adding skills to your repertoire is a smart path forward. By learning some new skillsets, you’re demonstrating value to your employer and the open job market, which can help you earn more over the long term.

Perks are the lower-hanging fruit, though. When an employer refuses to offer you more pay, perks are an easy and safe negotiating tactic. Some, such as 401(k) matching and health benefits (or lack thereof), are pretty much non-negotiable for virtually all tech professionals; what the company offers, you're expected to take, generally with no wiggle room. But you can negotiate for more time off, or the ability to work from home. Remote work is one of the more sought-after benefits for tech professionals, and most offices have software (such as Slack and a VPN) that make it fairly seamless to work from anywhere you like.

There’s also no middle ground to speak of. Employers aren’t offering more pay if you give up a few perks. Even in the rare instances employers curtail remote work, there’s no pay bump for commuting (and possibly investing in a wardrobe).

But more money is easily favored over perks, and as we stated before, learning more skills is the best way to go about earning more cash. Happily, we can point to a separate Dice Insights survey that shows tech professionals are most interested in adopting new skills —and then quitting their jobs for something better. The annual Dice Salary Survey shows us tech professionals should be absorbing advanced skills and platforms, not new programming languages, if they want better pay.

Heading into the second half of 2019, think of the ‘pay versus perks’ argument as what you’re willing to do for better pay versus what your employer is willing to do to make you feel valued. If you're diligent and learn new skills, pay should be commensurate with your skillset and experience. If you’re not in a position where a broader skillset is needed, perks may be your best path forward.