It’s hard enough to keep up with the needs and desires of employees, and when you’re trying to attract and retain top talent, you want to be able to offer them the world. But if you are in an old school corporate culture, how do you convince employees to come–and stay–when other companies and industries are offering a slew of amenities and perks that you can’t? Read on for a few ideas.
Find the Gray Area and Play in It
My company thinks of itself as innovative, and compared to some in the industry, it certainly is, but it is totally behind the eight ball when it comes to flexible schedules, time off policies, and other perks that help bring in the best candidates. So how can you compete with daily catered lunches, fitness membership contributions, and casual dress when you have nothing to offer?
Be flexible for your employees in ways that you can get away with. Be under the radar about okaying a long lunch to catch up with a friend from out of town. Use your corporate card to treat your team to a quarterly lunch but let them choose so it feels extra special for them. Bring bagels in every Friday. Ultimately, you have to answer to the powers that be if you get questioned on it, but these are often easy to support, especially when you have happy, productive, and efficient employees to show for it.
My company is known for the “3% bump” and it rarely diverts from that–not for top talent and not for the people barely hanging onto their jobs. Have a star employee you know will walk without a financial incentive to stay? Put together a list of accomplishments that they did that no one else can do. Do you research on what the market is paying (or what a competitor has offered the employee). Show how their work directly affects the bottom line. Now advocate.
As a leader and manager, it is your job to advocate for things that are good for the company and good for your employees. Can’t get the company to match the salary? Find creative ways to compensate them. What about a change in bonus structure? An extra week of vacation time? Or an allowance to cover vehicle costs? Find creative ways that incentivize your best employees that fall within the confines of what corporate leadership might allow.
Pilot the Change
Ultimately, if your company isn’t willing to budge from their old school policies to meet modern demands of top talent, you need to help change their minds. Use your position to influence executive leadership to show them how and why some extra perks are good for the bottom line. Would casual Friday boost morale, attendance, and productivity on Friday? Is there a real reason people can’t wear jeans once a week? What is the cost-benefit analysis to catering lunch once a month for the team? How can we reassess next year’s budget to include a better performance bonus structure? Remaining competitive as an employer in a tight job market can help recruit the best of the best and also retain existing employees. The studies on the cost of turnover clearly show that it literally pays to keep employees. Help your company see that.