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Our office is mixed with a dev-to-tester ratio of about 1:1.5 - and we're in a dilemma of providing perks for developers which could be too costly to provide for the entire office. Up to now, we haven't really been treating our developers the same as other companies in the industry, and due to this, we've seen some really talented people leave for companies that do offer these types of perks.

One example is we would like to provide dual-widescreen monitors for our developers; however this isn't as necessary for our testing teams, and would incur an extra 150% cost increase. Software developers see dual-widescreens as a necessity, while other types of roles see them largely as little more than a perk. I'm not saying these wouldn't increase productivity across the board; only that the performance increase for developers is larger than that of testers. This is just one example of perks we're trying to roll out for our development teams to make them feel more appreciated, while at the same time avoiding any hard feelings from the non-devs in the office.

How do other organizations do this? Surely Google, Facebook, and Microsoft have overcome this situation somehow.

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    How do other organizations do this? Surely Google, Facebook, and Microsoft have overcome this situation somehow. - They just provide their employees with the tools to do their jobs. If you can not afford the extra monitors for them right now just say that. Explain that the bang for the buck is there for developers that it isn't for testers. Treating people like adults goes a long way. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jun 2 '14 at 19:23
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    How much does it cost to replace a developer or a tester relative to a monitor? If it costs lest than a few hundred dollars to replace your testers, why ask the question? If it costs more than a few hundred dollars to replace your testers, why ask the question? – Amy Blankenship Jun 2 '14 at 21:09
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    I always giggle a bit at companies that balk at providing professional level hardware to a developer or tester. You're about to pay this person 60-100k (in the US). How crippling is adding a $200 monitor? – Joel Etherton Jun 2 '14 at 22:45
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    The fact that you think providing employees with the tools they need to work efficiently as a "perk" speaks volumes to why your talent is leaving. – Grant Jun 2 '14 at 22:50
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    @kevincline: I know, which only reinforces my point that a $200 monitor is really a silly thing for a company to get "tight" about. – Joel Etherton Jun 17 '14 at 0:10
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You're worried about the price of a second monitor? Really!?

This is a no-brainer. $300 for a second monitor is nothing compared to the cost of keeping a employee around. I would simply get a bunch and give them to all software developers and anyone else that you think will actually benefit from the second monitor. Shame on you for not making this standard in the first place.

If any other employee asks for a second monitor, just give them one. Don't argue, just do it. By the time you make the employee justify how they need the second monitor, you have caused them and you to waste more than its cost, and created negative feelings in the process. Even if you're pretty sure someone doesn't need a second monitor and wouldn't know how to use it if he had it, give him one anyway if he asks. The feeling of support from the company and better all-around moral is worth a lot, versus $300 and employees griping on company time about how only the elite got second monitors, and the overall decrease in moral.

Unless someone is asking for $1000 gizmos, not just getting equipment for employees that ask for it is short-sighted, penny-wise, and pound-foolish.

For engineers that work for me, I give them a credit card and tell them to not even bother me with anything that is only a few $100. Of course they will be eventually evaluated on how wisely they used this freedom, but I haven't had anyone abuse it yet. I think that is in part because I gave them the trust and freedom to use their own judgement. Your employees know better than you do what is causing them to waste time regularly. Let them make the decisions, with you only stepping in if it seems well out of line.

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    Can I come work for you ? :D – Radu Murzea Jun 2 '14 at 19:38
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    +1 - Still looking for the "Amen, Brother!" button from Stack Exchange for answers like this. – Wesley Long Jun 3 '14 at 20:18
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    This answer just disregards all the constraints included in the question. I don't agree with them either, but it does seem like the OP has done the math. – user8365 Jun 5 '14 at 23:54
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    @Jeff: The only constraint the OP mentioned is cost. Part of my point is that he is not thinking about the cost properly, and the increased cost is actually a very tiny fraction of the whole. His 150% number is wrong. No, he really hasn't done the math, at least not properly. – Olin Lathrop Jun 6 '14 at 12:28
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    Olin, this is an incredible answer! – daaxix Jun 7 '14 at 2:42
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Testers and developers have different needs, so don't always think treating people the same is treating them equally. Maybe there is something more important to them instead of dual monitors and might cost less. It could be as simple as altering some of your processes that negatively affect them.

The key is for someone to take the time to ask, listen and make an effort to improve their situation. Unfortunately, you waited until developers started leaving before you listened to them. Don't make the same mistake with testers. They may not leave, but stay with you and not make their best effort.

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    Although based on conversations with our testers, I think they too would find two screens would improve productivity. YMMV of course. However, you don't want to lose good testers either, so asking them what perks they feel they need would be helpful. While giving the exact same perks may not be needed, asking them what perk they would like instead makes them feel more as if you think they are important. Giving one group perks and ignoring the others is a sure way to cause resentment even if they didn't want the perk. It says, you aren't important enough to spend money on. – HLGEM Jun 2 '14 at 20:25
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    Why would not a tester not need two screens one to run the thing the are testing and one for the system were they document their findings – Pepone Jun 2 '14 at 22:52
  • @Pepone - No one is saying testers wouldn't benefit, the company may not have the funds to buy dual monitors for everyone. – user8365 Jun 5 '14 at 23:45
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I'm with @Olin on the monitor issue - first and foremost, know the impact vs. the cost. In the case of monitors, it's generally deemed such a low cost vs. the efficiency gain that people don't overthink it.

But on the greater scheme of incentivizing people differently. My thoughts would be:

1 - Just do it. Developers need different tools than QA - and it varies from tool to tool. QA may use automated test tools that are crazy expensive, Developers may ask for software development environments that are crazy expensive - just evaluate each request in terms of cost vs. value. The most demoralizing thing for anyone is to have a company that won't give them the tools they need to do their job... regardless of the job.

2 - Realize that unspoken differences are already happening - typically different roles get different pay and it gets more diverse the wider you look - for example, sales people are often incentivized monetarily on deals closed and profit earned, while dev and QA get incentive on productivity in a more holistic way with raises and bonuses rather than sales targets.

3 - Find a way to equalize - for example, give everyone an equipment budget or give a budget to heads of the specialized areas and let the the individual contributors work out the parts of #1 with their direct management.

4 - Do take the time to figure out if the incentive is right for your company. Extra monitors are a loose if all the computers are too old to accommodation them (ouch!) and monetary incentives can backfire if not carefully linked to the actual desired outcome. Plan the money before spending it, although plan much, much less when the money is small.

It's not wrong to say "this part of the company has more value". Often being clear is better than trying to hide it.

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Google, Microsoft and others do not generally give special perks to developers and not to testers. I have colleagues at both companies and have visited Google's offices several times, and from what I have seen and heard do not believe that either company distinguishes between developers and testers for equipment or perks.

At the various companies I have worked for, I have not seen developers given privileges or equipment not enjoyed by QA staff. In fact, I can think of several cases where QA staff got better monitors and computers because it was required for their testing.

If you want to give special incentives to particular types of employees, then pay them more or give them bigger bonuses. If you exclude "perks" from your testing staff, you will very likely eventually lose your best testers to other employers who will treat them better.

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