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We pay for that, too: providing perks people actually want
We don’t confuse perks with gimmicks. We prioritize home-office space, human connection, mental health, and personal time and growth. And we’ve got the budgets to prove it.
Last updated24 Sep 2022
Reading time10 min
“Meet me in the ball pit. It’s piña colada hour!”
A perfect example of a perfectly useless perk.
At Hotjar, we care about our people much more than short-lived gimmicks and open bars. We’re a humble group of folks, but we have to admit we’re pretty proud of our perks. Not because they’re fun, but because they add to people’s lives in useful ways.
Space. Connection. Mental health. Personal growth. These are things we prioritize. And pay for.
We talked to people around Hotjar to find out how they put their perks to use—plus reflections on terrible company perks. We were surprised by some of the things people mentioned—and not surprised at all at how much people appreciate extra budgets to spend on their holidays and personal wellbeing.
You’ll meet those and other unique budgets along the way.
Let’s start in your new home office.
A home office that works for you
As a fully remote company since birth, giving everyone a home office space isn’t a pandemic afterthought. We help people set up their office as soon as they walk through our virtual door—in the way that works best for them.
Home Office Budget: €2,500
Topped up €500/year
What are the things we help pay for? Whatever you need to work productively. A standup desk, better lighting, an ergonomic chair, a new AC. Or in Adrià’s case, an entire office overall:
The whole rebuild of my office space has been hugely helpful. I'm in heaven right now.
We also know that office expenses don’t stop once the furniture is delivered. So we have a separate Working Space Budget to help keep things running.
Working Space Budget: €2,400/year
Most people use this for recurring expenses like home internet wifi access or their favorite office drinks and snacks. Other people use it for a coworking space a few days a week. And some people, like Natalia, like to mix it up:
The Working Space Budget lets me adapt my surroundings to what works best for me on a specific day. Some days I work best with a fantastic cup of coffee at home. Other days I need to refresh my head by working from the cafe next door. That's all possible thanks to this budget!
And then Natalia used some budget to fill out her dual workspaces:
“I bought two keyboards: one for home with a numerical keyboard, and another small one to take when I’m outside of my house. It's been such a game-changer!”
Oh, and none of the above budgets cover your laptop. That’s covered by the company when you start.
Laptop of your choice
Take your pick. Are you a Windows, Linux, or Mac person? Like we said, it’s whatever works best for you.
Take your time, when you need it
When you have a diverse team spread across a few dozen countries, you quickly realize the range of international holidays and calendars. We respect and love this diversity. And we don’t believe it’s our place to make the call on which holidays to recognize without being exclusionary.
Instead, we provide everyone with a healthy 40 days/year to be used for the holidays or vacations of their choosing.
Paid Holiday Leave: 40 days/year
But wait, it gets even better! You don’t have to spend your own money on your holidays. You can spend ours. We provide an annual Holiday Budget, so you can worry less about saving up and more about enjoying your time away.
Holiday Budget: €2,000/year
Yeah, really. We give people money to go away. Here’s why:
The Holiday Budget encourages me to actually go on holiday. And it makes vacation time much less of a hassle and much more enjoyable!
That’s all happy news. But sometimes, life throws in colds, migraines, and excessive trips to the bathroom. And we understand—sick happens. So apart from holidays, we provide paid days off for physical or mental health.
Paid Sick Leave: 10 days/year
And it’s not just our employees’ minds and bodies that we care about. We know that parents have the job of raising another set of minds and bodies: their children’s. So we support moms and dads who are welcoming a new family member into this world.
Paid Parental Leave: 16 weeks
This is up to 80 workdays of paid leave for moms and dads adding faces to their families by birth, adoption, or foster care placement.
And then there are those things you can’t predict. Those things that don’t fall into the normal, formal buckets. Things like extended illness, specific wellbeing needs, natural disasters, and other… exceptions.
Paid Exception Leave: dependent on the situation
We hope you don’t need surgery requiring significant recovery time, or experience long-lasting COVID symptoms, or feel extreme stress or distress. But we know life happens, and we don’t want work—or unpaid leave—to contribute to the already difficult times. We take these on a case-by-case basis, but we make it quick and easy to get the needed approval and support.
Feed your body and brain
One of our core values is to ‘challenge ourselves to grow.’ And we mean it. So we give everyone a budget to keep their minds moving and skills up to speed.
Personal Development Budget: €1,000/year
What can people use it for? Whatever they want to learn more about. And people appreciate that they have control over how they spend. As Pinar, one of our product marketers, put it:
Having the freedom to choose what you want to learn—and having a budget for it—is priceless.
It might be skills, tactics, or knowledge directly related to their roles. Or it could be a peripheral skill that will help someone be a more rounded contributor in their team or company.
Or it might just be a hobby or personal interest someone always wanted to pursue, but never wanted to drop the cash on. If it helps people to grow, we encourage it.
And they use it in all kinds of ways. Mafalda, our support lead, finds her release in manual crafts away from the computer:
I’ve discovered so many new things with the Personal Development budget. I can now cross-stitch, crochet, do fancy resin crafts, relax with paint-by-numbers kits, or build my Blinkist library.
Some other unique things people have invested in: motorbike lessons, ballet and trampoline classes, archery lessons, joining a public speaking group, and…
An improv course! It brings a lot of joy to my week, and also helps me to be a better listener and be fully present in the moment.
We also provide a few extra tools to new joiners to encourage continuous learning from Day 1:
Welcome pack including headset, reading pack, and a few other goodies
This also includes a couple of books we believe in—Radical Candor and The Pomodoro Technique—that teach useful skills and tie in with our values. And remember, you can use your development budget for more books, another thing Mafalda has invested in:
I got this book called Nudge—thank you, Personal Development budget!—where they talk a lot about having a ‘helpful default’ to make it easier to prioritize positive behaviors. I’d consider this budget a helpful default.
Care for your mind and spirit
We know that a brain packed full of experience and skills is more useful when it’s encased in a clear mind. And we believe that mental wellbeing is related to physical and spiritual health.
We also know that each person is unique in their needs and beliefs for how these things play together.
So we let people practice their mental, spiritual, and physical fitness in whatever ways work for them. All we do is let them know we care and provide the budget and freedom to prioritize as they please.
Wellbeing Budget: €2,400/year
Gym memberships, meditation programs, and fitness trackers are common. But it’s the freedom to choose that really matters. This flexibility still blows Mari’s mind:
Having a budget that encourages employees to take care of themselves in a way that works for them—body or mind—is still surreal for me.
It also encourages people like Adrià to reach out for support that they may otherwise neglect:
I always had an excuse for not going to therapy: for example, ‘it’s too expensive.’ With the Wellbeing budget, it's like Hotjar was forcing me to take care of myself and enjoy life.
He also uses it for tennis lessons. And others find out-of-the-box ways to escape:
I recently used my Wellbeing Budget to rent snowshoes and go hiking :)
Now that’s mind, body, and spirit working in harmony.
We love remote, but we need people, too
In case it wasn’t clear, we are and always will be a fully remote team. That means that once other companies are cleared to safely return to the office, Hotjarians will still be free to live and work where they please, provided that time zones work for their teams. We think that deserves its own perk bullet.
Fully remote working environment
But while remote works for most people most of the time, sometimes you need that coworker connection.
Maybe you’re in Barcelona and want to brainstorm with someone in Berlin. Maybe you feel isolated and want to mix it up. Or maybe you want to see where your video-call friends actually get their work done. You’ve got a budget for this too.
Working Together Budget: €2,000/year
These meetups help build connections across teams and keep work life interesting. And in Claire’s case, they also move a lot of European cities to the ‘been there’ column:
I've only been with Hotjar 5 months, and so far the Work Together Budget has let me meet other Hotjarians in Valencia, Lisbon, Porto, and London—with many more to add in 2022.
And even though we’re proud of our fully remote setup, we also love real 3D human beings. So twice a year, we host a company retreat to prove that your colleagues are more than just floating heads on a screen.
Company Retreats: 1 time/year in person + virtual gatherings
Retreats are always hosted in a unique spot and are always different. And of course, we pick up the tab. A few examples of past retreats included lounging poolside in Malta, sharing knowledge in Portugal and building human towers in Catalonian.
Yes, we work hard on those retreats. But we also leave plenty of time for play.
Bonus: the most useless perks we don’t offer
We’re positive people, so we prefer to celebrate the perks we’ve picked at Hotjar.
But we also thought we’d spin things around. So we asked people about some of the most useless perks they’ve seen at other companies. Here’s what we heard.
Lesson 1: offer benefits, not buzzwords
“Great culture, feels like a family” = we don’t offer any real perks
"Unlimited growth opportunities" = no clear career path
"Ability to impact company's future" = we expect you to dedicate your life to us
"Hybrid work" = you’re not really free to work where you want
Companies should be specific. Offer benefits that people actually want, not corporate-speak that you found listed on an HR site.
Lesson 2: people have different tastes
“Do companies seriously think that saying ‘We have snacks!’ is going to attract real talent?”
“Some companies offer ‘Free snacks and drinks’ that end up being soda and a random selection of food.”
“In my home country, they offer ‘Fruity Wednesdays.’ Basically, one day a week we had unlimited free fruits in the office. Silly and wasteful imo.”
Basically, if you’re going to offer snacks, offer a variety. And think about whom you’re attracting if this is a key selling point.
Lesson 3: people see through fake perks
“You know those cheap gift packs with a bunch of company-branded stuff? It screams ‘company first,’ and most of it usually ends up in recycling.”
"One company went on and on about ‘we have a dog!’ The poor thing belonged to an employee, it wasn’t even the company’s dog.”
“It’s funny and sad to see something advertised as a 'perk,' which is in fact something companies have to offer by law.”
So that ‘worry-free unpaid leave if you fall in a hole and break your legs’ perk isn’t fooling anyone. And that two weeks of maternity leave isn’t helping much either.
The most important perk at Hotjar
Free money, flexible time, and further education. All sound great. But what do people think is the most important perk we offer at Hotjar?
The clear winner was: there is no consensus on the top perk.
Hotjarians gratitude was truly spread across the board. And this shouldn’t be surprising. If the perks have been thoughtfully selected, people should appreciate the whole range of benefits. After all, the goal of providing perks isn’t to fill out a long bullet-point list on a Careers page.
But there were a couple recurring themes.
One was the flexibility and freedom to choose. From the wellbeing options to the way people design their home space—the choice is decided by each person, not the company.
Another theme was the ability to string budgets together. That’s what Claire did to make the most of her trip to Portugal:
I really like being able to combine Holiday + Work Together Budgets. Last year, I had a great trip to Portugal, where I was on holiday in Lisbon for a few days, then traveled to Porto by train for a work-together.
And if needed, the Working Space Budget could have been used for a coworking space. Hotjar makes it easy for these budgets to play together. It’s like another benefit on top of the benefits.
Companies expect a lot from their employees. And you better believe that employees expect a lot from their companies. So we’ll keep doing what we can to keep the relationship mutually beneficial.
Plus, we really like the people who work here.
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