Today we have a guest editorial from Kathi Kellenberger as Steve is away on his sabbatical.
My colleague, Steve Jones, is taking a six-week paid sabbatical from his job at Redgate, and while he’s gone, I’m keeping the lights on at SQL Server Central with the help of Grant Fritchey and Kendra Little. Being away from a job with lots of responsibilities for that amount of time seems daunting to me as I worry about being away even for a week. Six weeks is not that long as people often take off that much time or longer for recovery from an illness or for the arrival of a newborn. The great thing about a sabbatical is that you can spend the time doing whatever you want, for example traveling. I’m looking forward to my turn in about three years.
Steve’s sabbatical got me thinking about benefits in general. Most companies give their employees smaller amounts of time off in the way of vacation, sick time, flex time, and bereavement time. I've worked at jobs that had very little vacation time and at other places that had more that I could even use. Companies often let employees roll over or even cash in unused days at the end of the year. (When management at one company where I worked for several years realized that most of the people in the IT department cashed in lots of days, they took this benefit away.)
Companies can get very creative when it comes to benefits. Some of my favorite benefits involve giving to charities by way of matching contributions. I've used this to my advantage for stair climbing events where I've had to meet a specific goal to participate. I hate asking people for money, so by self-donating half of what was required and then having the custom company match the other half worked well. Some companies also donate money to the nonprofit or give some extra time off to the employee for volunteering.
Some benefits, such as remote work, gym membership, health fairs, and health insurance, improve the wellbeing of their employees, but companies can also invest in the knowledge and skills of their workers with training classes, conferences, and tuition reimbursement. For database professionals who love to learn, these opportunities to enhance their skills also improve job satisfaction.
Bonuses, profit sharing, free legal services, department lunches… The list of possible benefits is endless. Generous benefits may seem expensive, but happy employees are likely to stick around longer, and lower employee turnover ultimately improves the bottom line.