October 4, 2023 workforce podcast show notes
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Editor’s Note: If you missed the previous segment of this discussion, listen to Part 1 of this series.
“Who We Are Is What We Offer”
Jamie begins with observations of general statements about compensation packages. She points out that people often begin with, “I got this great job!” The compensation is one of the first things then mention. Those packages create or impact the stories about their new jobs, but also about your company.
The Concept of Total Compensation
Molley comments that total compensation is much more than the wage or salary. People often focus on what the role pays, but depending upon the season of life the new hire is experiencing, the rest of the package will be an important factor. When you consider your workforce, there is a wide range of ages. Those various groups want, or place value, on different things related to their compensation.
Jamie explains that total compensation is all of the tangible things an employee receives for working at your company. This is typically made up of base-pay plus any incentives, shift-differentials, overtime opportunities and benefits (usually insurance for health, dental, vision, short-term and long-term disability). This would also include a 401(k) and the company’s matching contribution. For some, it might involve a pension program. There’s also vacation and PTO time. Molley shares an interesting way a CEO communicated the value of the compensation package to new hires.
“Up to $20/hour to Start”
This type of phrase is often included in job postings. Does it really accomplish its intended result? Jason explains that this style of offer is extremely blurry. Your compensation package is your offer. Suggesting there’s a range may actually sow the seeds of either doubt or potentially mistrust in the mind of the candidate.
Jamie describes a sign she saw in a restaurant offering $17/hour. That seemed hard to believe. She asked one of the staff about it and learned that it was extremely misleading. The staff member said you needed to be there for 3 months and it includes to 3rd shift differential (for which there were no openings). Imagine the impact on the excited new hire when he/she learns that this was a bit of bait and switch. Do you think the fine print will have an impact on that excitement? Will it impact the way the employee views the company? More importantly, do you think his/her views will be discussed with others in the community? The answer to each of those questions is a resounding, “Yes!”
Jason observers how prior to the pandemic, companies may not have worried about the negative impacts of these types of hiring practices. There weren’t as many alternatives and companies had their pick of prospective candidates. That didn’t make it right, but it may have played a part.
Fast forward to the current environment. Candidates have many more alternatives from which to choose. From a purely marketing perspective, your compensation package is your offer. Lead with your best offer. If you don’t you may not get the chance to hire that candidate.
Planning Pays Off
Jamie suggests that having a good plan will help you to better understand the levels various pay-rates in your organization. The standard package is being scrutinized much more closely, today. Potential new hires are spending more time deciding if the package actually meets their needs in the immediate, as well as how it will work down the road.
It’s true, pay-rates and compensation packages have increased. Jamie recommends companies use the available tools to properly plan out their compensation and benefit practices.
Talk to Your Employees to Discover Why They Like Working Here
Jason comments on a very simple to implement tactic. Ask why people like their jobs within your organization. If you learn what they actually don’t like, now you’ll know what to fix. Your employees are your best recruiters. They talk about work with their neighbors, families and friends.
Consider asking about what they like, what they’d change and what they absolutely love about their compensation package. Use the latter when advertising your job opening.
Are You Generating Toxicity?
Molley comments on how the bait and switch of an “Up to $X/hour” approach usually leads to disappointment in the mind of the new hire. It may not be openly expressed, but the seed has been sown. This may lead to a growing toxicity within your work environment. Once that takes hold, consider the benefit cost to the employee and to the organization.
At Incipio (Molley’s company), they work hard to fully understand the organization’s employee benefits package, but then to contrast them with realistic expectations. When working with her C-level clients, she helps them to understand “who they are is often defined by what they offer.”
If your workplace environment is toxic, it will generate higher rates of sick days, mental health issues and general stress. These factors can often outweigh the total compensation package.
If you do decide to survey your workforce, formally or informally, it’s important that the C-suite hear the negatives. You have to take those up the chain. Effectively addressing some of those issues will have a positive impact on everyone.
Be Candid with Your Prospective New Leaders
Jamie adds that it’s extremely important to be candid about current challenges within the organization. It sets the proper expectations, while conveying how much you respect the experience he/she would bring to this role.
If management is committed to resolving the various challenges, it can give the prospective new leader a sense that things will improve and they will play a role in that success. Having the opportunity to contribute may be viewed as an intangible part of the total compensation package.
Defining Your Value Proposition
Jason’s firm, CrowdSouth, is a marketing agency. They work with organizations to help craft effective messaging related to the company’s value proposition. In other words, what are they truly offering? It’s important to understand a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work.
Jason recommends developing distinct, customer/employee personas for each job description. This can lead to defining the 4 different types of people who could be successful in this particular role. Jamie adds, she often challenges clients to define the 3 questions the employer wants the candidate to answer “yes” to during the hiring process. For instance, “Are you the type of person who likes to solve problems?” How the candidate responds can help you to identify where to probe deeper during the interview.
Jason describes a process they use when working with a client to develop effective job descriptions. This helps to build out the personas, which leads to the creation of an effective targeting campaign to attract specific types of applicants for each persona.
It’s important to openly consider whether your organization actually matches its stated values, especially if those are communicated as part of the advertising and recruiting activities.
Molley comments on the importance of understanding the relationship between the type of candidate you want to attract, the season of life they may be in and how the compensation package aligns with that season.
Jamie is an HR professional. At her company, Parcel, she recommends organizations anticipate the usage specific benefits will get when developing budgets. Not all benefits will be used by each employee or employee group. She uses the example of a company offering tuition assistance and dependent educational assistance benefits. While the dollar amounts budgeted for both were similar, in reality, very few employees used both components of their benefits. It enabled them to offer a properly-funded and valued benefit, without having it crushed by Finance because of the forecasted cost, were every employee to use both components.
Jamie explains is extremely important to emphasize the “soft” components of the compensation package, because prospective employees are trying to find an organization within they’d fit and one that aligns with their core values. This are much more important than in the past.
Jason reflects on the impact a company’s social media presence can have on the total compensation package. Every organization has a brand and works to influence its brand positioning in the mind of the market. Companies should consider “dripping” out posts about values, over time, but without being divisive. This could easily support your recruiting efforts. The company’s social media team or marketing team should be allocating ad budgets for to augment your recruitment campaigns. This should be an ongoing conversation both internally and with the external audience.
Consumers develop brand preferences. For those consumers who might actually become employees, why wouldn’t the company/organization consider positively influencing that preference, as well. The efforts can go hand-in-hand. Associating your positive brand affinity with a job opening definitely plays a part of the assumptions the prospective employee attributes to the total compensation package.
That’s where we’ll leave the conversation for today. Before we close the file, we invite you to reach out to us with questions, suggestions or other comments. We’d love to hear from you.
Need Help Supporting Your Company’s Recruiting and Staffing Goals?
We’re here to help. You can contact us via our individual websites, depending on your specific needs or questions:
- Jamie Swaim, SPHR – ParcelKnows.com
- Molley Ricketts – IncipioWorks.com
- Jason Heflin – CrowdSouth.com
We hope you found this file insightful and helpful. Thank you for listening!
By Jason Heflin
Jason Heflin is one of CrowdSouth’s owning Partners and brings years of marketing experience from his past lives as a corporate marketing manager, writer, and freelancer. He also plays the ukulele for fun, which is cool.