Want to Keep Competitors from Taking Top Talent?

"employee benefits" "employee perks" "company benefits" "company perks" "retaining top talent"

Subsidized yoga classes, flexible hours, tuition reimbursement, oh my! How important perks are like these? In a word: very. It’s no secret that top talent is your company’s most valuable asset. The question is how do you retain it? Simply offering employer-paid health insurance and paid time off no longer does the trick when it comes to staying competitive and retaining high-quality workers. Benefits are not only valuable for companies to hire and retain top talent, but they also boost company morale and assure that employees to produce their highest-quality work.

A study by Canadian Life suggests that more than 50 percent of employees would take a job with a new employer, without a salary increase, if it offered better perks and benefits. So which perks hold the most sway with employees? Of course, it’s important not to ignore the basics. Competitive pay, generous medical benefits, paid vacation and holidays, pension plans, and sabbatical options are necessary but no longer sufficient to keep hire and retain top employees. Companies need to take it a step further.

People want to work for companies that offer a variety of benefits to keep employees motivated, healthy, and engaged. According to a survey from Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., perks deemed highly-effective for retention include:

  • vacation/personal time (49%)
  • wellness-related benefits (43%)
  • flexible schedules (40%)
  • tuition reimbursement (27%)
  • telecommuting (25%)

Employees are becoming more and more interested in shaping their compensation packages to include a better work/life balance according to a survey conducted by WorldatWork, Loyola University Chicago, and the Hay Group. They are looking for companies that offer family-friendly policies, such as discounted childcare, generous maternity leave, and the option of a compressed workweek. Companies such as Dell are known to go so far as to provide college coaches for their employees’ kids!

While some perks, such as a comfortable and trendy work place, free language courses, company-sponsored community service activities, mentoring and coaching, or commuter benefits, may seem superfluous to some, they really do make a difference to employees. Happy and healthy employees are more engaged with their companies and produce higher-quality work. Furthermore, many potential employees are looking for extensive training and development programs that foster employee growth and mentoring and coaching systems.

While many companies had to cut perks during the recent recession, the situation is definitely looking up as more and more companies are recognizing the need to stay competitive to keep top talent. In fact, many companies are going beyond simply reinstating perks and are exceeding what was previously offered according to a study by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The study shows that:

  • 83 percent of companies interviewed have reinstated at least some of their perks
  • 42 percent have at least returned to pre-recession levels
  • 24 percent are exceeding the perks that were previously offered

According to Gallup data, the companies excelling at these perk offerings will maintain their edge in the marketplace. Assuming perks equate to engagement, those companies can expect 49 percent higher employee-retention, 18 percent higher productivity, and 16 percent higher profits compared to the bottom 25 percent.

All too often, small businesses and startups with smaller benefit budgets struggle to attract employees with incentives. However, all is not for loss when it comes to company perks for small businesses without Google-size benefit budgets. You don’t need to have a rock-climbing wall or a movie theater in your office to keep employees satisfied. There are benefits small companies can provide that hold significant weight with potential employees. Across the board, there is one perk that is valuable to companies looking to hire top talent: flexibility. Adidas’ motto for its employees is “as few rules as necessary, as much flexibility as possible.”

While this seems to break the norm of the typical businesses structure, it is a great way to retain top talent, encourage innovation, and allow employees produce their highest quality work. Most importantly, being flexible is free. Trust your employees to know when they are most productive and allow them to work around this schedule.

What does your company do to stand out amongst its competitors when it comes to benefits and perks? This is an important question to keep in mind when it comes to building your company’s team. Be prepared to sell the position when the right candidates come along by having your benefits “bag of tricks” packed with variety and flexibility to meet your employees’ needs.

Post written by Donna Hanrahan, Marketing Intern at Whiting Consulting.

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Why I Became an Entrepreneur

I’m a Start-Up, and I Need to Start Hiring… Now What?

What is going to make your business grow? Hiring the right people. What is the most important asset to your organization? Hiring the right people. How are you going to meet your business objectives? Hiring the right people. Yet most organizations don’t take the time to really think about how, who, or when they are going to attract people to their organization.

For some reason, hiring is very reactive, and this puts pressure on making quick decisions versus taking the time to really think about who, what, how, and when.

So let’s take a step back…

Your company is growing, which is a great thing. You are at a point where you need to add talent in order to meet upcoming demand. plant in hand

Sometimes, you have to be more reactive even when you are a start-up because in order to scale you have to have demand. Think about where your bottlenecks currently are… where you have the most exposure and need to fill in that gap to make the next leap. For most organizations it is sales, marketing, or development. You need to find folks that can bring in new business, you need folks to promote your business, or you need to add and develop technology to stay ahead of the innovation curve.

I tell my clients to be proactive as much as they can regarding their hiring needs. Map out a hiring plan in six (6) month segments and think about where you are going to need folks to meet your upcoming demand. Give yourself as much time as possible. If you are not at the point where you can either hire a recruiting company to help you in the process or your network is not rich in this area, allow yourself a good three (3) months to bring on that resource.

Recruiting takes time. You already have a day job and you want to ensure that you give yourself plenty of time to find the right resource.

·      If your company is just starting out and you are making your first big hire, make sure to have a “pitch.” You have to remember that candidates are consumers; they are seeking out their next job. This equates to a major purchase, and they are going to do their research.

·      Make sure you have a detailed job description. It is important to have thinking clearly outlined. This will make the process run more smoothly and the candidate will have a better understanding of their overall responsibilities and expectations of the role.

·      Ensure that your interview team is consistent on what the company is hiring for, that the team is “on board” with the choice to hire, and that everyone understands what the benefits are going to be. Everyone should know what this person’s responsibilities would be. Candidates want to see that your team knows where they are going to fit into your company’s picture and what contributions they are expected to provide.

Also research what the going rate is for the resources you are looking to hire. Many start-ups simply cannot afford the pay-level of the people they are looking to hire. They want VP-level skills for a mid-level manager’s salary, but in the end, this can hurt your overall process by not biting the bullet and hiring at the salary level you really need. If you are going to make the right hire, invest in where you need to grow your organization. Having a candidate settle for a lower salary in the end is not a win/win situation.  This process takes planning and strategy.  But, if executed effectively, you can have your new employee making significant contributions to your company’s bottom line within 90 days of hire.  That is music to the ears of any startup company.  Invest on the front end and your return on the back end will be substantial.

When Did the Phone Go Out of Style?


Businesswoman on phone, Telephone and woman, Woman on the phone, woman looking at phone
This weekend on Twitter I noticed an article that was featured by the NY Times entitled “Don’t Call Me, I Won’t Call You”. The main theme of the article is how no one uses the phone anymore. We rely on other means of communication such as email or texting or updates on Facebook or tweets. After reading the article it really hit me how uncomfortable people are about picking up the phone and talking to one another.

As a recruiter I live or die by the phone. My success depends on how many calls I make a day, how many conversations that I have etc…and how many people I can share my opportunities with.  I do rely on all the wonderful tools out there to do my job, however it is the phone call – an actual conversation where the work gets done.

How many of you have gotten an email from someone saying “is it ok to call…?” instead of just picking up the phone and calling someone – we are actually now trained to ask permission first.  The phone is now perceived as being rude or intrusive versus the vital tool that it is. Think about how much time we waste going back and forth on emails instead of picking up a phone and talking over the topic at hand.  There is many a time I will get an email from a client or candidate and instead of replying I will actually pick up the phone and call then back. I know…..how dare I break the email chain, right?  But I want to grow my relationship with that person and to do what is required for a more personal approach.

I have an 11 year old and he struggles with using the phone. It is awkward for him as he would prefer to text, or not call at all. I make him practice his phone skills. As I train new recruiters, I see them struggle with making calls, it is hard for them to build that rapport over the phone with someone since they much prefer email or texting someone. Apparently that trend continues all over since most people now have mobile phones and smartphones, but according to a poll released by Nielsen, voice spending on mobile phones is decreasing and within the next 3 years text spending will surpass voice. As a society I think we need to practice our phone skills.  I am guilty like everyone else most of the time I will text my friends or ping them on Facebook but it is not the same rush as a good old phone call.  You learn so much more about the person and who they are and what they’re about.

So I challenge you this week to pick up the phone each day and instead of emailing a client, pick up the phone and give someone a call…

New York Giants Exclusive: The Recruiting Process in the NFL

UAlbany NY Giants training camp press conference media New York Giants 2010 NYG

Julie at Tom Coughlin's Press Conference


I have been a diehard football fan all my life! I love the game and look forward to the start of the football season every year. I  especially love watching the NY Giants games, since they come to my hometown every August for training camp at University at Albany.

As we have written in previous blogs, we really admire the recruitment process that professional and college football teams execute to have a great starting team. In Pro football organizations, the recruitment process starts out with the NFL draft. The drafting process is an exciting journey for both the teams and the draft picks alike. The teams spend a tremendous amount of time and energy putting together the recruitment list of players that they would like to draft to their team.  The draft picks are recruited to specific teams for their top notch skills that they can be bring to the game to make the team stronger. Just like in the business world organizations put together a list of qualifications they need candidates to possess to become a stronger firm. What I love about the football recruiting process is the amount of preplanning, energy and excitement that the organization puts forth throughout the whole drafting process. 

For draftees in the NFL, there’s no job descriptions provided. They know what they’ve signed themselves up for. All that’s required of them is to continuously “bring it” everyday on the field and the attitude to support it. They learn from their mistakes in past games and practices, and then move onwards to improve that one small imperfection that has decreased their chances of winning, to end up leading their team to victory. They’ve been chosen as recruits for a particular reason- because they work hard, give their best, and continuously improve above all others.

NY giants huddle, Tom coughlin, New York Giants, NYG, football, coaching

Along with recruiting the right skills for your business or team, trying to find that “perfect fit” within the culture is a definite must! With a strong focus on company/team culture, everyone can work together striving towards the same goal. No one will deviate away from the main goal, and only focus on themselves. Both coaches and managers top priority should be to build a close bond with prospective employees/athletes. They develop a strong trust, and the feeling of being wanted by the organization, which in the end makes a great fit for everyone. This is what ultimately makes a well oiled company/team!

This past weekend, I had the pleasure to sit down during the New York Giants training camp at University at Albany, and ask a few questions to the current players on this topic. I spoke to five past draft picks (Mathias Kiwanuka, Kareem McKenzie, Bryan Kehl, Adam Koets, and Jonathan Goff), all who went through the same drafting process in the past and being recruited to a team that puts a lot of effort towards team culture. I even had the opportunity to ask Giants head coach, Tom Coughlin, about his thoughts on team building. Please enjoy my interviews in the videos below!

All images and videos taken by Julie Skowronek.

The Value of a Relationship Interview

hand picking chocolate, Box of Chocolates

 There are many different types of interviewing styles hiring mangers leverage to determine if a person is the right candidate for the job.

I was sitting pool side with my sister in law who just has a beautiful understanding of the English language. We were talking about interviews and how they sometimes don’t undercover what we need to detect to make the right decision. She used the word ‘relationship interview,’ and I thought she has done it again by capturing the right wording for what we as recruiters need to follow.

One of the most important features throughout an interview is building a sense of trust with the candidate. This needs to happen very quickly. Hiring managers need to understand that a candidate will be nervous, which is only natural, and trying to put a person at ease should be the first priority! If I take a look back at the people who make the candidate feel at home and build trust, overall they have a better experience than those who don’t. Continue reading

Are Your Candidates Feeling Love Like LeBron James?


I am not a big basketball fan unless I am watching SU College games. But last week I was watching the news and the LeBron James story caught my eye.

I am a firm believer that sports organizations know how to put together a good recruiting program. They understand the process and how to attract excitement and momentum into a search.

In this news story it showed how the various cities where pulling out all the stops to let LeBron know he was wanted; from the Governor of one state singing a song to billboards to movies stars helping out.

Organizations can learn a tremendous lesson by watching this recruitment process play out. First of all, look at all the buzz and excitement that is being pushed into the community. Now, I understand not all recruits will have this type of press but any positive press for a company throughout the process is valued. Continue reading

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