Recruiting top-class talent is challenging in itself and doing it on a low budget can be quite a daunting task! Startups and mid-sized companies that typically operate on a shoestring budget (before they catch the eye of the big VCs and make it to the big league) are commonly faced with the predicament of how to recruit the right candidate with their limited budget. At a time when big companies lure top talent with generous salaries and bonuses, VMware, Splunk, and Cadence the top three paying companies in America pay their employees in the range $160k according to Business Insider. What chance do the smaller players have?
According to a study by Deloitte, employees reported work-life balance as being the most important factor apart from salary. In another finding, a whopping 42% of those surveyed by Towards Data Science was willing to choose a lesser paying job with fewer working hours than a better-paying one with more working hours! The attractive perks and benefits offered by tech biggies to their employees to keep them interested in more evidence supporting the finding that salaries aren’t everything. For instance, Netflix offers its employees unlimited maternity and paternity leaves in their first year of parenthood. Airbnb, on the other hand, offers its employees an annual stipend of $2000 to travel! While the latter may not be applicable to a firm with budget constraints, a flexible work schedule can be very attractive to many employees. (Also Read - Employee onboarding: Looking at the bigger picture)
We discuss a few effective strategies to attract great talent sans a handsome pay cheque.
Appeal to their emotional side
While salary and bonuses may be more appealing to the logical side of the brain, there is another way to attract a potential hire - by appealing to their emotional side. At the core, all of us are driven towards finding a sense of purpose. If you can get candidates invested in your company’s mission, then it can go a long way in shifting their focus from merely looking for a well-paying job to one where he/she could make a difference in the larger scheme of things.
Additional perks never hurt
Maybe you have a fancy cafeteria with unlimited snacks and all your employees are equipped with MacBook Pros. Or maybe not. One thing we need to understand is that not all employees seek these fancy perks. Quality bonding time with everyone over a piping hot cuppa and some munchies to go around may be just as appealing! Most companies tend to overlook certain easy-to-implement and highly effective perks that would appeal to the employees, such as
A flexible work plan empowers employees to plan their work around their own schedule, which in turn leads to a more productive workforce that is self-motivated and doesn’t need constant reminders or supervision. The flexitime can be in the form of late clock-in time or early clock-out time. Since the flexiwork applies to everyone involved, employees are more willing to pitch in for a colleague in case of emergencies.
Healthy meal options
Promoting a healthy workplace is also in fashion these days, with cafeterias serving all kinds of healthy and nutritious food for the employees. By adopting a healthy food policy, not only are you offering your employees a healthier alternative but also positioning yourself as an employer that cares for its employees’ health and well-being.
Convertible or standing desks
Emerging as one of the fastest growing and in-demand employee benefit across companies, the humble standing desks or sit-to-stand desks can be an inexpensive yet attractive perk to offer to a prospective candidate. These desks, apart from making the workspace more robust and dynamic, ensure better collaboration among employees.
Discounted neighborhood membership
Most startups operating on a tight budget would not be able to afford a fully functional gym in their workplace, however, a group discount at a neighboring gym can be an excellent alternative. This would this promote a healthier, dynamic work environment.
Travel or holiday allowance
An excellent benefit to add to your list would be a holiday allowance that can boost the happiness quotient among employees in your office to new levels.
A dash of creativity coupled with some well-thought out and relevant benefits can empower you to not only retain your current crop of employees but also galvanize them into becoming brand ambassadors for your company. Referral hires who are well versed with the dynamics and work culture of your company, thanks to this band of brand ambassadors, would be willing to take a pay cut because they know they would be a good fit here. (Also Read - How employee wellness affects productivity: four fundamental pillars)
Employees today do not prefer to be tied down to their desks for long work hours and require time-off to socialize, follow their passions, pursue higher education and lead a fulfilling life. It is imperative for employers to understand this need, and offer employees an excellent work-life balance. Such a workforce tends to be more productive and infuses a robust energy to the workplace. A study by Deloitte reports how employees revealed that work-life balance was one of the most important factors while considering a job. There are limited hours in a day and demanding that your employee work for longer hours not only builds resentment but also affects productivity! An unhealthy lifestyle with irregular meals of unwholesome food, lack of adequate exercise, and the absence of stress-relieving activities can potentially lead to life-altering or fatal lifestyle diseases!
Autonomy, mastery, and purpose
Experiments in the 1970s by well-renowned psychologist Edward Deci studied how money and motivation derived different results from its subjects. In these experiments, a group of people was divided into two sets, one that was asked to solve a puzzle with money as the reward and the other who was asked to solve a similar puzzle without any monetary rewards. He found the second group that was simply offered a challenge without any monetary compensation to be more motivated than the one that was offered compensation. This example is in no way to suggest you withdraw monetary compensation for your employees from the table! On the contrary, the lesson we could perhaps learn from this is that humans have an intrinsic need to succeed, which can be leveraged by offering them an environment that is conducive to attaining such a goal.
Potential for growth
Some of the best hires are often looking for an excellent opportunity and a challenge as well! They are keen to know about the company’s growth prospects and their own professional advancement and career prospects. In a poll by Gallup, 87% of the millennials reported career advancement was very important in a job. A candidate who understands his current role, as well as the career prospects within the company, is much more likely to take a salary cut in lieu of career advancement.
Several companies offer equity or stock options as part of the compensation. This would mean that the salary that the employee gets in hand would be much lesser since he gets to have greater skin in the game. This is an excellent way to align the company’s interests with that of the employee. The employee who chooses to take a lesser salary in lieu of equity believes in the company’s potential and is incentivized to grow the company so that her own shares also increase in value. Microsoft is one of the early companies who offered stock options to its employees and created 3 billionaires and over 12,000 millionaires in the process!
Sell them on your technology
A very effective way to attract A players to your team is to sell them on the hot technology you are working on. People, from entry-level to senior-level employees, would take a smaller paycheck if they get to work on cutting-edge skills. (Also Read - Automation in recruitment and why it is a necessity for HR)
Show them you only hire the best
Compelling stories about your team and their superior industry knowledge would persuade a talented hire to be part of your team. The reason? An A-player prefers to work with other A-players and would be willing to take home a few dollars less for the opportunity to be in the company of great talent.
Job vs. Career
The best hires are not merely looking for a job to earn money! Instead, they are looking for a workplace that has the potential to grow and offers similar growth prospects to its employees. In short, a lucrative career is what a top-class talent is looking for. To convince a person such as this, you need to play up your company’s mission, its goals, its potential for growth, its team, and its work culture. It is imperative to find a dedicated team of talented employees to boost your company’s success and without lucrative paychecks, these above-mentioned ideas can serve you well in attracting great talent.
While finding new ways to retain employees through exciting perks and keep them engaged with new challenges, remember to not tweak the hiring process to such an extent that you have to make do with less than the best talent. There are other ways to cut costs — employ novel tools to identify talent, streamline the evaluation and interviewing processes, and manage employees — and weed out under-qualified candidates. Automation can save several man-hours, which means you save lots of pennies too, and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your recruitment strategy.
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