For years, stingy employers have used the myth that geeks care only about technology -- and not money -- as an excuse to underpay and overwork them. If this dubious notion was ever true, it isn't any more, say experts. But money is only one of several key motivators, along with recognition from their peers, flexible work environments, or simply the opportunity and the tools to write tight code or solve a thorny problem.
"Money matters, of course, but mostly as public reward for a job well done," says Munger. "Instead of an end-of-year holiday bonus, though, it's far better to walk into their work area with crisp $100 bills and reward victories throughout the year. For engineers who've spent extra time crashing on the job, I have sometimes bought a weekend getaway at a hotel resort for the whole family to enjoy after the project is done. Spouses appreciate that the company recognizes their sacrifice as well."
A job well done -- and recognized as such by management -- goes a long way to keeping the tech staff happy and motivated.
"Geeks build stuff, and there is no greater sense of achievement than seeing their app live and in use," says Devanshi Garg, COO for Icreon, a tech consulting and development company. "Give them visibility; show off photographs or promotion material of the project, share the usage statistics, and tell the stories at internal staff meetings or events. Don't forget to celebrate victories together."
Even simple praise can do the trick -- just as it does with the rest of the nongeek staff, notes Suddreth.
"The old adage that geeks like to stay hidden in the dark while hand jamming away at their computers is really a thing of the past," he says. "They want to be appreciated and recognized just like anyone else in the organization. So be sure and give them a shout-out when they do a good job."
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