SmartRecruiters Blog

Benefits Your Employees Actually Want: Why PayScale Has the Happiest Employees in Seattle

Sometimes it’s hard to discern which benefits are trendy and which will actually improve employee quality of life. We talk with PayScale to learn the difference.

This year Seattle Business Magazine named PayScale the top place to work in Seattle. No easy feat in the Emerald city with competition from tech giants like Microsoft and Amazon, and the siren call of San Francisco and Silicon Valley constantly ringing up the coast. Tech talent is scarce and flighty, but also most crucial to a company’s success, according to a recent report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. So how do you not only attract, but keep, this sought-after talent?

The answer for PayScale is work-life balance. “We see our employees as whole people,” says Caitlin Williams, the company’s senior talent acquisition partner. “All our benefits are designed to benefit people as people, not people as workers.”

“Yes!” agrees Chris Stiemert, director of talent acquisition. “Most of what we do is listen to our employees and learn what they need and want.”

For PayScale, employee empowerment is the north star, and they are relentlessly experimenting to see what works. Almost more interesting than the benefits they keep are the ones they leave out – and why!

How do you make sure your programs are meaningful, and not just trendy?


I’ve worked at companies that had free soda, food, you name it, but you start to realize that the underlying purpose of these perks is to keep people in the office, working. We try to focus on what will actually move the needle in terms of retention and quality of life.


I totally agree. I think a lot of companies focus on things that are really fun to hear about at the outset but, in the end, aren’t about genuine care for employees, or long-term productivity and wellbeing. “We Hire Whole People” isn’t just a tagline for us, and we try to carve out benefits that speak to “a person” rather than an “employee”.

Caitlin, what makes PayScale the top place to work in Seattle?

I’ve worked in several different areas of the tech industry – biotech, ecommerce, software as a service, etc. What stands out to me after three years at PayScale is how it invests in its employees in two essential ways: career/professional development, and overall health/well-being.

  • Professional/Career Development: We offer an array of development courses, and we also employ leadership and career coaches that help our employees uplevel both hard and soft skills.
  • Health and Wellness: This last year we opened a gym on the basement level of our building for PayScale employees. We host free weekly yoga classes and stock the office with fresh fruits and sparkling waters. The other piece of this health and wellness initiative is “Independence week”, where this year we experimented with shutting down the office for the entire week of July 4th to give folks a great mid-year reset that most workers only get during the winter holidays.  

Chris, why does PayScale take employee happiness so seriously?

We start from a place of believing that happy employees ultimately means better business. All these things—happy hours, decorating the office for Halloween, providing snacks, and offering workout facilities follow naturally from this idea and create an environment where employees feel safe and happy so we can have transparent conversations around all aspects of work.

There’s always going to be a new opportunity in this tech market. We’re competing with Amazon, Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Dropbox, and Snapchat, and many others. So, of course, we need something unique, but it’s more than that – we really feel that treating employees well is the right way to run a business. Our ability to source and retain talent just proves that point further.

Kaya Payseno