7 WFH Perks IT Professionals Want in 2021


As the war for top tech talent intensifies, organizations must rethink the perks and benefits to retain their IT staff. 

According to Manpower’s February 2020 surveyOpens a new window , Closing the Skills Gap: What Workers Want, the talent shortage in the U.S. has more than tripled in the past decade, with 69% of employers struggling to fill positions, up from 14% in 2010. To attract top talent, employers must prioritize flexibility, the wellbeing of their workforce, and skill-building opportunities, not to mention competitive pay, and healthcare, which remain non-negotiable. 

Fast forward to December 2020, and we find that employers have had to adapt their benefits and perks to the WFH needs arising due to COVID-19. IT professionals have faced several challenges during the transition as organizations are increasingly relying on digital infrastructure, adding to their workloads. On top of that, for IT professionals, day-to-day duties like on-site visits or in-person user query resolution are impossible. 

The right set of perks can help keep your IT team engaged as you navigate this difficult period and come out on the winning side. Here are seven WFH perks that can help retain top technical talent during the rebound in 2021. 

Learn More: Top 10 In-Demand Tech Skills You Should Master in 2021 

1. Employee Health and Wellness 

During the pandemic, health benefits emerged as a top demand for employees across sectors – and IT professionals are no exception. A Robert Half surveyOpens a new window found that health insurance is the no.1 benefit in North America, provided by 68% of employers. Another surveyOpens a new window by MetLife confirmed that this particular benefit was game-changing in 2020, alleviating employee stress around healthcare costs. 

In 2021, it is advisable to audit your healthcare benefits package to ensure that employees’ out of pocket expenses remain as low as possible. You could also add innovative perks such as coverage for online fitness programs, fitness wearables, and preventive healthcare up to a specific cash amount. 

2. Employee Financial Wellness 

Given that IT budgets were slashed in 2020 (Gartner reports an 8% declineOpens a new window ), there will be concerns around pay cuts and below-average bonuses, which can also impact productivity. 

Employers can alleviate this to a degree by offering financial wellness perks, such as online financial wellness programs. These can be undertaken when working from home, helping employees plan for emergencies even when on a tight budget. Organizations can also reroute facility expenses (electricity, equipment, etc.) to help employees set up a WFH environment.

3. Student Loan Assistance 

College debt is a massive problem for technical workers, as STEM degrees are expensive. 70% of U.S. students graduate with an average of $30,000 or more in debt. Of this, 18%Opens a new window of technology workers have incurred $100,000 or more in student debt. During a crisis, debt can propel employees to take up another job to keep pace with the necessary payments. 

That’s why loan assistance or tuition assistance is an important perk for IT professionals. ResearchOpens a new window suggests that 86% of employees would stay with their employer for five years if it helped pay back their student loans. 

4. Flexibility in Work & Time Off 

Technology workers are known for valuing flexibility, with 81%Opens a new window saying that they “work flexibly” to an extent, compared to an average of 66% across industries. Therefore, flexibility will be an essential perk for IT professionals in 2021, allowing them to pursue work-life balance in a WFH environment and give them the freedom to balance work and personal obligations. 

Make work more flexible by providing flexible shifts, and the ease to switch between WFH and on-site work, as per the local regulations. Also, ensure that paid time off (PTO) is flexible – avoid imposing criteria such as sick leave, emergency leave or casual leave when employees are WFH. 

Learn More: 7 Cybersecurity Certifications for IT Pros to Uplevel Career in Security 

5. Mental Health Benefits

Mental health perks require special attention in 2021, in addition to the benefits you provide under your statutory health benefits package. IT professionals are particularly prone to stress, anxiety, and other challenges during this pandemic period due to strained budgets and increased pressures to keep up the digital infrastructure. This has been a persistent problem for the sector across the U.K.Opens a new window , AustraliaOpens a new window , and IndiaOpens a new window . 

While your health benefits will cover mental health treatments, you can offer added support, such as employee assistance programs, employee resource groups, and emotional wellbeing apps. Ensure that all these resources are remotely accessible so that they are ready at hand for WFH IT professionals.  

6. Perks for Families and Pets 

Perks for families and pets show employees that you care about their overall wellbeing and happiness – outside of the hours they put in. As demand for IT professionals picks up, you need to provide competitive benefits to prevent attrition among top talent. One way to achieve this is by offering perks such as: 

    • PTO for new parents after birth or adoption of a child 
    • Subsidized child care at home to address financial worries 
    • Paid family sick leave for employees cohabiting with those in quarantine 
    • Pet insurance and time off for new pet owners 

Remember, workers in engineering and science are the second and third-most “lonelyOpens a new window ” employee demographics in the U.S. Perks like pet insurance can encourage positive behavior to alleviate loneliness, thereby improving work quality and mental health. 

7. Career Development Opportunities

Career development is a common concern among technology workers, as the usual career tracks such as management and strategic leadership aren’t always open to technology roles. 

What if you could support their upskilling and development without losing top talent to a competing company that offers higher pay? This would not only help in retention, but it would also save employees the stress of having to look for greener pastures amid a global crisis. For instance, some IT professionals can transition into better-paid consultancy positions. 

Even if you cannot offer a promotion or a pay hike, cement future possibilities by investing in remote learning and sponsored online courses that IT professionals can undertake from home. 

Learn More: Younger Security Pros Fear Losing Jobs to Automation: Exabeam 

Final Thoughts

In 2021, your IT team requires special attention when planning the perks and benefits package. They will be critical to your organization’s success, helping to consolidate and mature your infrastructure after this year’s accelerated digital transformation. They will also bring specific requirements to the table, such as the need for career progression, mental health concerns, and operational flexibility. 

These seven perks should be on the top of the checklist as you prepare for the new year and can boost engagement, productivity, and job satisfaction among IT teams. 

What perks are you planning for IT professionals in 2021? Comment below or let us know on LinkedInOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , or FacebookOpens a new window . We’d love to hear from you!