by Steve Potestio – Managing Partner, 52Ltd.
If you build it they will come. When trying to hire staff for your company, this is the mantra to have. If you build a positive work culture, and focus your efforts in maintaining a healthy environment for people to grow and develop their careers you will have an easier time hiring top talent. It also helps to do good work and serve your clients. Paying people well is part of what makes a positive work culture, but it’s not the only thing. Resist the temptation to throw money at people to get them to join your firm. Don’t make it about money. If you have other positive factors in place, paying competitively will get people over the hump and wanting to work for you. Securing the top talent is more about your overall package, which includes your company’s culture and environment.
When searching for a new opportunity, a vice-president of marketing states,
“As a job seeker I pay close attention to a company’s culture and how it’s sustained. This is key to how well I’ll be able to thrive in the company and how my contributions will be received. A significant amount of my waking hours will be spent in a workplace; a good culture will provide me a healthy, challenging and enjoyable experience. While a good salary is an important consideration it’s not my first priority or even second. If the culture is right, I know the salary negotiation process will be a positive one.”
When salary becomes the focus of an employment equation it is generally a bad sign. Of course, people want to be paid what they are worth, but job offers should be approached by looking at the big picture. If the focus is more on salary, chances are employees will leave again when someone else throws more money at them.
According to Rich Connor, senior vice president at Portland marketing firm, PMSI, “we encourage new candidates to think long term. What type of company do you want to be working for in five years? If someone is interested in stopping to build their resume or to get their salary increased, we are clearly the wrong fit and we have a pretty good nose for that. We like to see where candidates take the conversation…. Money, Culture, Responsibilities, Future Goals. We want to know their motivations for wanting to join our team. For existing employees, we find this issue to be a red warning light. When a valued team member wants more money to stay happy or leverages another offer, that it is a bad sign for us. We hate to lose any employee for any reason but, if their base level of satisfaction has fallen to money, the important parts have fallen away.”
Salary discussions are often an employer/candidate game of cat and mouse. What are your salary requirements? How much are you looking for? What does the position pay? Questions like these are used to strategize the employment offers being extended (and those accepted or declined). I advise employers and candidates to discuss salary history but to also factor in other criteria (culture, opportunity for growth, doing good work) when determining a fair salary. Removing the cat and mouse dialogue and opening an honest discussion for both employer and candidate is the best way to start a rewarding and healthy employer/employee relationship.
Hiring top talent should be more about attraction than about enticement. You can entice someone with more money, but you want to attract them with competitive pay and back it up with the larger package of what your firm has to offer. If you consistently hire in this manner you attract talent that is looking to further their career and make an impact in a positive environment, rather than the job shoppers who are looking for the next great offer to come along. You will also build loyalty and make it more difficult for others to entice your talent away.
Build the culture. Provide opportunity for growth. Support and mentor your employees. Provide competitive compensation and benefits. Do good work. Respect your staff and clients. And you will attract and retain talent. If it’s built, they will come.