Total Compensation

Recently there was an article making the rounds describing the massive “total compensation” benefit of working for an established large company over a startup or small company. The article defined “total compensation” as the sum of your salary, stock options, and sundry benefits.

I think there was a missing variable in that equation that a savvy Software Developer should consider:


Unspoken Realities

The total compensation which is provided by an employer is certainly the easily measured variables like those in the original equation. But what about the unspoken reality of how they view your time?

Consider a company where there is no distinction between personal time and company time.

The company assumes that you’re either always working or always available to work. This is often expressed in attitudes towards off hours responsiveness and the like, because you should always be working and therefore always available. During “work hours”, it also looks like contributor work getting squelched by meeting requests and other demands.

You get the basic idea, the needs and desires of the individual are sublimated under the view of the company to use you however they like. They’re paying you after all, it doesn’t matter if you think they are spending your time poorly.

It’s easy to see how that fantastic wage you’re getting paid becomes diluted as the hours worked increased, but what about the opportunity trade-offs? If work is getting the lion’s share of a person’s time, then other things have to give.

Let’s make this trade off more obvious.

Decisions, Decisions

Imagine I was sitting across the bargaining table from you. You’d finished your day of interviewing, I said we liked you, and that we’d like to offer you a “total compensation” package that was off the charts.

And it was your lucky day. HR had approved a limited time offer where I could adjust your pay at my discretion.

So I offered you another $5k, but there was a stipulation. You had to give up that new hobby. We wanted you to focus on work, that’s all.

You consider it for a bit, but then you accept! More money, whee!

So then I offered you another $10k, but again, a stipulation. This time, you’d have to give up that friendship you’d just made.

You think about it, realize you have other good friends, and then accept! Peace out Pete!

Ok, here comes the reductio ad absurdum.

Finally, I offered you the chance to make an insane amount of money. I’d double your salary, triple it even! Only thing, you’d have to spend literally ZERO time with your friends, spouse, and kids.

Would you take it?

This is an unspoken reality of some workplaces, offering compensation according to their definition rather than one that values your time.

I’d recommend finding out before accepting that chart-busting offer, oh, and probably not from that nefarious interviewer.

And by the way, the best employment decision I have ever made was working for a company with a healthy view of time. It’s literally made all the difference.

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