Last month we talked about the tight labor market and some
of the difficulties it will present for employers during 2019 and beyond. This month’s focus is the unique compensation
challenges that occur when hiring a new employee.
Here’s the too-frequent dilemma. You find the perfect candidate for your open
accounting position. They have the right
skills, experience in your industry, appropriate credentials – everything you
could want. There is just one problem –
they want a starting salary that is $10,000 more than you are paying your other
employees who do the same job.
Maybe this happens because you are not paying your current
employees enough. Maybe your labor
market is particularly competitive and that has caused wages to rise. It’s particularly frustrating if you have
done your homework and tried to set your pay rates to be competitive with the
market, and now you have to pay above market to hire someone with the skills
In any event, this is a complex issue with no simple
solution. There are some steps, though,
that you can take to land that candidate without creating compensation chaos in
the rest of the organization:
1. Do Your Homework – Up Front
Before you even begin the recruiting process, make sure you
are aware of current market salaries for the position(s) you are recruiting
for. If you haven’t looked at market
salaries in a while, get ready for some sticker shock, especially if you are in
an area that is experiencing high job growth.
It is also important that you understand who your competitors are for
talent in your recruiting market(s). Often your competitors won’t be in the
same industry. Several years ago a
regional bank client lost the entire accounting department to a state tax department
regional office that opened in the same small city.
2. Get Creative with One Time Payments
The one-time sign on bonus is the most common, but there are
lots of other options. These payments
can be structured to be paid out all at once or in multiple payments. Payments don’t always need to be up front,
either. They can be attached to length
or service or some type of defined performance milestone(s). Or split any way that can be easily
communicated and is achievable.
3. Get Creative with Benefits
Most organizations don’t do a good job of communicating
this, but a typical benefit package is “worth” 30% - 35% of base salary. It’s possible to create a customized benefit
package for a potential new hire that includes offerings like paying off
student debt or credit card debt, an extra week of paid vacation, an increased
contribution to health insurance, and/or reimbursement for continuing
education. Presenting a total
compensation package, rather than a straight salary offer, may be the key to
landing that candidate you want.
4. Consider More Frequent Salary Increases
pretty common to give new employees an increase after 6 months, but a large
number of organizations are giving increases after 3 months. If you’re having difficulty meeting the salary
that a potential new hire is seeking, maybe negotiating for a somewhat lower
salary up front and an increase after a shorter wait time will help you land
that candidate. This type of strategy
can be particularly effective with entry-level employees in industries such as
retail and food service, where turnover during the first 6 months of employment
frequently exceeds 50%.
5. Get Creative with Flexible Schedules
employers have been successful at retaining valuable employees because they
looked beyond the constraints of the usual 5-day work week. That might include working shorter hours, a
4-day week, working at home one or more days, or working a schedule based on
the availability of public transportation.
And some employees might actually prefer working on a weekend day, when
they don’t have to take their children to school or day care or contend with
homework and after-school activities.
Alternative scheduling approaches can be particularly helpful in retaining
entry-level employees, who frequently struggle with childcare and
6. Make Sure Your Compensation Policies
Reflect Market Reality
If you have written compensation policies that haven’t been
reviewed or updated, it is time to do this.
You may not be able to follow those policies in today’s tight labor
market. For example, organizations with
more formal salary structures (pay bands or salary grades) often have policies
that state new hires will be hired at a certain position or in a specific
quartile of the salary range. These days
that often isn’t realistic or doable.
Bottom line – get creative to successfully meet today’s
recruitment challenges. And if you need
any help with your compensation needs, give us at Affinity HR Group a call!
By Susan Palé, CCP – Affinity HR Group, Inc.