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Don Burleson Blog 








Professional Perks - Incentives for Executives

Management Tips by Donald Burleson

As employees rise in the ranks of Information Technology they wonder about the perks and benefits that they will receive with each promotion.  The qualification to become an executive are daunting, as noted by Wiley in Non Sequitur:

But one you are qualified to be an IT executive, the perks keep-on coming:

I've been in the IT industry for a few decades and I've been lucky enough to spend short periods of time with senior executives, and I've got a good handle of the perks that are associated with various levels of IT management.  Let's take a look at executive perks in the IT industry.

Note:  Make sure to review our Dress Code, etiquette requirements, and Cross-Cultural Guidelines.

Executive Perks by Job Title

The progressive and successful technology companies of the 21st century understand that perks can aid in retention of mission-critical talent.  For example, the anti-social dweeb who designed your manufacturing system may be the most indispensable person in your large corporation.  Most of these prima-donnas' are narcissistic,  and you need to understand their motivators.  Here are common perks that I've seen, listed by job role:

Staff Professional Perks

Staff programmers, Systems Analysts and team leaders see small perks, less than $1k per year:

  • Free Coupons - Some companies give-away free movie tickets, $50 dinner coupons and rewards for jobs well done.  At my company, I give-out 50%-off coupons for Denny's.
  • Drinks & Snacks - Many companies provide refrigerators full of coffee soda and snacks.  Microsoft rolls-out free pizza every night at 6:00 PM.
  • Gifts - I mail Carnegie Cheesecakes to top performers, and I've found that employees love the legendary New York Cheesecake.  Plus they are easy to order by phone.
  • Comp Time/Flex Time - Many staff professionals are allowed to take a few weeks off after a brutal rollout.
  • Business Cards - It's a real treat to have embossed calling cards.
  • Conferences - What a treat to go to a computer conference.

  Coupons are a great perk, especially the free ones that come in the mail.   Get your employees something from the land of fruits & nuts. A convention is an exotic locale is a great perk.

Technical Manager Perks

Functional Managers (Oracle DBA's, Linux managers, Application Administrators) often get nicer perks, up to about $30k per year.

  • Telecommuting - Many companies allow part-time work-at-home arrangements.
  • Stock Options - This is a biggie, as stock options can pay more than a base salary.
  • First Class air travel - Many companies have policies that long flights requires a first class ticket.
  • Private Office - No cubicles for the junior IT manager.
  • Shared secretary - Your get a part-time secretary to assist with the mundane parts of the job.

Director/Manager Perks

Mid-level IT managers can negotiate for more expensive perks, in the realm of $50k-$80k per year:

  • Company Car - It's not uncommon for companies to lease vehicles for mid-level IT managers.
  • Key to the Executive Washroom - This is the most  prized benefit of all, entry into the potties of the elite.
  • Personal Secretary - A personal secretary is a great perk.
  • Dress Code waiver - Managers can wear anything they want, or nothing at all.  
  • Personalized Parking Slot - A custom sign on a perking slot is a real perk, even better if it's inside the executive garage.

  A secretary is very handy.   The key to the executive potty.   A flexible dress code is a perk. Your name on a parking space.

Vice Presidents and CIO Perks

At the VP level, the perks get even better, often amounting to over $100k per year:

  • Unlimited Vacation - VP's can take all the vacation they want, but this is a "paper perk", since they are expected to work 60 hours every week.
  • Office Bedroom - I've seen several VP's insist on a private bedroom adjacent to their office with a complete bathroom and shower, and this perk is considered a prestige item, like a corner office.
  • Country Club Membership - Some memberships can cost upwards of $60,000 per year, and many corporations have a policy that all VP's get a membership.
  • Executive Lounges - Membership in the airline clubs like "Admirals Club", "Star alliance", "US Airways Club", etc.

  VP commodes are fancy.   The country club is relaxing for executives.   A good executive deserves an office bedroom.  

Golden Handcuffs

If you need to hire a highly-specialized talent from a limited job pool, using "Golden Handcuffs" are mandatory.  Golden Handcuff jobs are rare because there are very few candidates and lots of buyers.  In a Golden Handcuff hiring, you pay an obscene hiring bonus with the requirement that the money be paid-back if the employee leaves within five years. 

By human nature, the lucky executive buy nice executive toys (Rolex watches, new BMW's, Gucci suits) and are forced by circumstances to honor their time obligation.

The following job roles are examples where I've seen Golden Handcuffs used:

  • SAP BASIS Administrator - A BASIS administrator who can guarantee a smooth implementation is worth their weight in gold.  I saw one guy get $100k signing bonus, and immediately spend it (as planned) but it back-fired.  Another desperate employer paid-off the $100k buyout, leaving the employer high-and-dry.
  • Oracle Applications Functional Expert - I knew a CPA with a proven record of rolling-out successful implementations of Oracle Financials get a $100,000 signing bonus.  It was small price to pay for the security of knowing that the rollout would be smooth.
  • Oracle RAC DBA - A DBA with experience in Real Application Clusters in a multi-billion dollar banking database is very valuable.  There are only a handful of companies in the world with this volume, and desperate banks will pay huge sums for a DBA with a proven track record.
  • Web Presence Manager - IT managers with a track-record of building viable web companies are worth a fortune to venture capital investors.  I've seen $500,000 incentive bonuses for a five year commitment from a leader with a proven track-record of success.

Executive Perks - A risky proposition

Everyone knows that properly-applied financial perks can reap huge benefits, but not in obvious ways.  For example, contrary to popular belief, cash bonuses and stock options do not make employees happier, and perks have been proven not to improve morale.  However, numerous studies show that perks are completely effective for ensuring executive compliance and for the retention of key employees:

  • Ensuring Compliance - Many studies show that goal-based financial perks are amazing motivators.  I worked for a Fortune 5000 corporation that paid a $40k cash MBO bonus for every executive who did not go over their budget.  One penny over, for any reason, and no bonus.  At the end of the year the company was 100% on budget!
  • Improving Retention - The old "Golden Handcuffs" approach is extremely effective for keeping irreplaceable employees. 

However, you must be careful to apply perks appropriately, and for the right reasons. 

These are just my personal observations, and your mileage may vary.  I'm sure that there are many more executive perks that I've missed and if you have suggestions I'd like to hear from you.  Just e-mail me with your suggestions!


If you like Oracle tuning, you may enjoy the new book "Oracle Tuning: The Definitive Reference", over 900 pages of BC's favorite tuning tips & scripts. 

You can buy it direct from the publisher for 30%-off and get instant access to the code depot of Oracle tuning scripts.



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