Startups are famous for their extremely generous, and sometimes even downright goofy, perks. From the archetypal free food and foosball table to newer innovations like unlimited vacation and egg freezing, the menu of possible extras to lure top talent is basically endless.

But there's a chill blowing through Startupland these days, with tighter access to funding causing many fledgling businesses to tighten their belts. When financial constraints dictate you trim how much you can spend on perks, which of these myriad options should get the axe?

That's the question tech-recruiting site Anthology wanted to answer, so it asked 200 passive job seekers, from companies like Snapchat, Facebook, and Uber, which perks they found most enticing. Their answers are valuable intel for any entrepreneur looking to trim expenses while keeping top talent happy.

A company runs on its stomach.

An army marches on its stomach, Napoleon Bonaparte is supposed to have said. It appears that something similar is true when it comes to startups. Whatever you do, when you're trimming your perks, don't mess with your coders' food.

A well-stocked kitchen was the most enticing perk of all in Anthology's survey, with 45 percent of respondents saying this was their top priority when it comes to work extras. "So while you may be able to cut back on the number of feeding times like Dropbox, don't get rid of any food!" cautions the company's blog post on the results.

Now you need to burn off all those burritos.

If techies love to eat, they also know that all those snacks need to be countered with some physical fitness if they're not going to start overflowing their chairs. Which is probably why gym memberships were the second most desired perk, with 44 percent of tech job seekers selecting this option.

"We didn't breakout if that was an on-site gym or simply covering an employee's gym fees, but there's little doubt that your future employees want more than a basic health reimbursement," Anthology elaborates.

Hit the road. 

What came in at No. 3? "Technology workers also want to travel, so you may want to take a hint from Airbnb with the third most popular perk among passive job-seekers," says Anthology, recommending you consider following in Airbnb's footsteps by offering travel stipends despite your tightened financial situation.

A final note on perks.

While it's handy for those with limited resources to know which benefits move the needle when it comes to recruiting scarce talent and which are met with a shrug, it's also worth noting that perks in general have their limitations. Some pretty respected voices in tech have cautioned that, if your people don't feel like they're doing meaningful work, no perk will excite them.

Anthology's findings support that contention. While those surveyed may have preferences, many said that overall these sorts of sweeteners just don't figure all that prominently in decisions about where to work. "There are some workers who couldn't care less about perks. Thirty-seven percent of respondents chose that as one of their choices. They likely follow Google's belief that perks don't attract workers," notes the Anthology post. So choose wisely when you're offering extras--more isn't necessarily always better.

Which perk do you personally covet the most?

Published on: Jul 7, 2016