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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Startup Q&A with Sonar Founder, Brett Martin

Last month, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Brett Martin, CEO of the hot geo-based mobile application Sonar. Take a look at our conversation, as we dive into several topics including:  becoming an entrepreneur in the New York City startup scene, hiring for a startup, and experiences along the journey…

What has been your experience as a startup in New York City? What are some of the great things about it, and what are some of the challenges?

Every day is a new challenge. As a startup, you start from scratch where nothing exists, and everything needs to be looked after and fixed daily. New York is an amazing place with a small community where everyone is very supportive, and you can get advice from anyone. Sometimes the beginning of the startup process can feel isolating, but here in NY…there’s a whole community doing the same thing. Everyone is in it together.

What was the transition like coming out of the incubator?

Sonar was started out of the incubator, Appfund, which I helped set up. When we got off the ground and got funded by a west coast VC, that’s when Sonar became its own company. Today we are still tightly connected to the incubator, and share an office with another company that’s also part of Appfund. It’s a collaborative environment and Sonar is tuned in with “sharing the knowledge.” We occasionally pull people out from other teams to help get stuff done.

Mayor Bloomberg is proactively trying to make NYC the biggest tech hub. Have you seen any changes yet from your perspective?

The NY startup scene is not this “top-down” mandate from the government wanting a bigger startup scene. Quite the opposite – it emerged organically, because New York City is a perfect petri dish for mobile innovation. The high density of users–everyone’s on their cell phones, everyone’s trying to find stuff, and your friends are almost always nearby–that’s why Foursquare works, and Gilt Groupe works because all the fashion companies are here, and Etsy because there’s a cool DIY culture. So I wouldn’t say the startup scene is taking cues from the government, but the government is wisely looking and seeing what’s happening, then doing their best to accelerate and facilitate it.

It seems like you’ve had the entrepreneurial spirit for a long time. At what age did you start thinking about becoming an entrepreneur?

For me it was pretty early. Growing up in Ocean City Maryland off the beach, I would sell sea shells to my sister at a high cost to earn a few bucks. I always liked the idea of side hustles, and seeing the opportunity to make a quick buck and then capitalizing on it. Building companies has a much longer term view. Over the next few years, everyone is going to become increasingly networked with everyone else around them. We’re going to be socially networked just on the basis of proximity and location. That’s all Sonar is…this is how we’re going to position ourselves to take advantage of it.

I see that you were very active in sports in high school and led your teams as captain…would you say that being involved in sports was a major catalyst for your drive today?

Absolutely, but I think it’s the teamwork part of it that can’t be underestimated. Some people can come into the workforce without experience in a coordinated disciplined effort. Like we are all going to get to practice on time and run laps… because if you’re not there, the rest of the team can’t get started practicing. Similar to people who are only used to working individually–they don’t understand the need to follow a time table, because they have little experience with someone counting on it. But in a startup, everyone counts on everyone else, and if any one person stops, then everything falls apart. Understanding the need for and the power of teamwork is probably the biggest gift sports gave to me.

Who has been your role model to help guide you in the startup process?

I always wished I had a mentor or a role model, but my dad was an entrepreneur always building his own things. For me, it was more of solving my own problems…I just wanted to connect with people where ever I go, and Sonar is the tool that helps you do just that.

At the NYU Startup Week Panel, you mentioned that when you look at someone’s resume, you look to see if they’ve developed anything on their own. Aside from that, what is the biggest hiring attribute you look for: a hard skill or a soft skill, to hire in a startup?

Do they care about my startup? Are they interested in it? Have they downloaded and tried the app before walking into the door?  Are they self-starters? Have they already come up with ideas for what they’re going to do here?  I’m not in here in the business of telling people what to do….everyone I hire needs to be able to figure it out, what they need to do to make the product better. I am hiring them to figure out the problem, not just to do the work. Everyone is doing their best, so if I pull someone in, I expect them to make it better than what we’ve done by ourselves. The ability to come in with ideas and a plan for what you’re going to do the moment you walk through the door–that’s what you need to be successful at a startup. Big companies already have the processes in place and only need the human capital.  Startups don’t have any processes, so there’s nothing in place to ensure there’s a uniform output and no system to make sure they got it done. I look for people that will build their own processes to help themselves excel.

Your career page on your website is very unique and different from the standard job page, listing all its perks, focusing on company culture. Is the company culture something that evolved naturally?

We thought, “what would the person we would love to hire like?” Then we thought about some of the cool things we’d want to do and just threw them all up on the site. So it’s basically a reflection of what the team thought was cool and what we thought would interest people that we’d like to work with. It’s more like a wish list: if you come here, we’ll give you all of this.

The word “entrepreneur,” sounds like a very lonely word every time I hear it. After my talk with Brett, I realized just how much deeper it can be interpreted, based from his experiences. An entrepreneur intertwines their ideas within the startup community to help develop better processes…then hires the right people who can execute the idea beyond the entrepreneur’s wildest expectations. In the end, it all comes down to teamwork, dedication, and communication for a startup to persevere.

 

Brett Martin is the Co-Founder and CEO of Sonar. Prior to founding Sonar, Brett conceived of and built game-changing mobile technology companies as the Director of K2 Media in NYC. Prior to K2, he and a college friend moved to Austin, taught themselves how to code, and built the Data Owl, the world’s first automated social media monitoring service for small businesses. Before that, he researched start-ups as a Fulbright Fellow in Milano, Italia.

In his previous lives, Brett has worked at VBS.tv as an Internet marketing associate and on Wall Street as an equity research associate. Other things he is proud of include getting published by Harvard Business, founding a rock band, starting a non-profit, earning a B.A. in economics from Dartmouth College, and sailing thousands of miles from Maine to Dominica in a 30ft ketch.

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.

Are YOU Part of the WOM Hiring Craze?


Are you addicted to the internet and DVR? We now live in an era where information is delivered instantly for consumers. Unfortunately, for traditional advertisers, they are starting to see a shortened runway with 48% of Millennials influenced more by word of mouth than traditional ads, according to Mr. Youth at Intrepid. Fortunately, companies today can funnel that money and funds into another vital resource.

Millennials have grown up with technology and instant information. We are dependent upon our connection with the world, and therefore are starting to become influencers for many companies trying to reach us online. Forget the TV, newspaper, and magazines! We’re all glued to our computer chairs or our phones following everyone and everything on Twitter and online news outlets. Mr Youth and Intrepid stated that 43% of Millennials prefer WOM to gather more product information.

Thriving companies have adjusted and adapted their strategic plan with the changing technology. Companies that have gained a competitive advantage over their rivals have implemented the word of mouth method through the Millennials, who love personal connections and can’t get off of their smart phones or computers. This method can lead to a more successful hiring process for organizations and employee referral programs. So why don’t more companies leverage their staff in the same way for hiring their talent?

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Job Searching on Twitter Made Easy

With social networking taking storm from our society’s ever-advancing technology, connecting with future employers just got a whole lot easier! Rather than blindly mailing or faxing in your resume to a company with little chance of getting a response back, you can interact during your job search process with employers via Twitter in a more efficient and personal setting. Never thought of using Twitter as a job search tool? Well, close those career search site tabs and let’s begin! All you have to do is follow these five steps on Twitter, and bring your motivation to interact! Continue reading

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