Powerful Perks: Annually Pay for an Industry Conference

One of the more interesting perks to offer in a growing startup is to provide a stipend for each team member to attend a conference of their choosing once a year. By paying for a conference, it promotes employees learning new things, meeting new people, and gaining exposure to new ideas. It also shows that the company values individuals progressing in their career and advancing their craft.

Here are a few ideas to keep in mind when offering a paid annual industry conference trip:

  • Budget wise, keep it simple and offer a set allotment like $2,000 to empower the person to take a quality trip to an interesting conference (the goal isn’t to spend all the money but rather to have good options)
  • Consider not having a set budget and simply expensing reasonable costs
  • Make it clear that the money should be treated as if it’s their own and isn’t designed to pay for flying first class and staying at the Ritz Carlton
  • Don’t have the money roll over if it isn’t used as the goal is to annually get away and better one’s craft
  • Don’t require that the conference be perfectly aligned with what the person currently does, but do require that it be at least relevant (e.g. a Java developer might want to attend a Ruby conference to learn more about the language)
  • Don’t put too many rules around the program as it’s important people use it and not feel it’s too much effort

When evaluating potential perks for a growing startup, consider offering an annual stipend to attend a conference. Team members value the perk and that the company is investing in their future.

What else? What are your thoughts on the perk of paying for an annual industry conference?

2 thoughts on “Powerful Perks: Annually Pay for an Industry Conference

  1. Great idea to offer this as a perk. Do you suggest adding this perk for conference versus a perk for educational development? If you had to choose one, which would it be?

  2. Great advice David as always. In one of your caveats, you mentioned that you’d limit the conference to something related somehow to the person’s role (ruby conference attended by a java developer). I am curious if you have ever been a part or witnessed startup’s that allow employees to go to any conference they want, related to work or not. For example, a developer who also deejay’s on the side, attending a Electronic Music conference. Not related, but would make him very happy. Your thoughts?

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