As Vancouver tries to be a base for new tech start-ups it has found that it needs to offer bonuses of various types to attract workers to the city where living costs are high. While Vancouver has already established itself as the cheapest place among fifty markets in North America to establish a new tech start-up, companies in Vancouver realize that to be successful they must attract top tech talent.
The growth of the tech sector in Vancouver is being helped by the fact that large multinationals such as Amazon and Microsoft have recently opened offices in Vancouver. At the same time, Canadian startups such as Hootsuite have begun to obtain international status.
Vancouver's high cost of living and the low value of the Canadian loonie relative to the US dollar are two drawbacks that Vancouver has to counter. However, the situation is even worse in some prime high-tech areas such as Silicon Valley in the United States which is notorious for the high cost of living in the Bay area. An employee in the area notes: “I didn’t become a software engineer to be trying to make ends meet,” said a Twitter employee in his early 40s who earns a base salary of $160,000. It is, he added, a “pretty bad” income for raising a family in the Bay Area."
Bill Tam CEO of the BC Tech Association said that the growth of the industry has left companies to fiercely compete to hire workers. The Association issued a report estimating that by 2021 there will be an estimated 35,000 jobs needing to be filled in BC in the tech industry. The competition has led companies to offer enticements such as vacation cash and luxury cars to hire prospective employees. Tam said that demand for workers was by far exceeding supply. Tam said that he has heard of companies offering flexible work hours, unlimited vacation, and even one company that offered a downpayment on a new Tesla car.
Tam said: "Tech companies by design are trying to be innovative in all aspects of what they're doing. So the way in which they structure their businesses and the culture they try to adopt is very much consistent with that philosophy."
One company, RingPartner, has cut hours per day worked to just five hours in an attempt to lure employees. The thirty employees of RingPartner report to the office between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday to Friday. Where they do the rest of their work is up to them. They can spend the afternoon at the beach and log on to their computers in the evening. Many parents appreciate the arrangement as they can spend more time with their family. However, some people prefer the traditional eight-hour day at the office and do exactly that. RingPartner notes that since they introduced their new policies sick days have actually decreased by a significant ten percent. Their revenue and profitability has also increased.
Leslie Collin, director of people and culture at Unbounce said that benefits not only are a recruiting tool but reflect a company's culture. The Vancouver-based company gives each of 190 employees four weeks of paid vacation, plus $1,000 for taking time off. Collin said that the vacation bonus allows workers "to go on a new adventure and support their life goals as well as their career goals." She said that rest helped employees to be able to come up with fresh ideas and more creativity and that this helped the company be successful.