Benefits and Compensation, Recruiting

Shift Your Perspective on Compensation

It’s no secret that recruiting is tough these days. And a big issue for many organizations is matching the hefty salaries larger companies in their industry may offer. But there is good news: Offering a flexible total rewards package is easier than you think—it requires some creativity and a shift in perspective.


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The best way to attract top talent is to appeal to what is important to them, and it’s often more than salary. A shift from a numbers-only view to a holistic work/life success view creates opportunities. That’s why thinking differently is important. Change your focus from matching high salaries to how your benefits help employees achieve work/life success.

A  Willis Watson Towers Survey found that “6 in 10 millennials say they are willing to sacrifice pay for more secure retirement benefits,” and 59% of Millennials would pay a higher amount for a guaranteed retirement benefit. For Baby Boomers, 66% would sacrifice pay for more secure retirement benefits. Interestingly, 32% of Millennials and 34% of Baby Boomers would pay a higher amount for lower or more predictable health costs.

These statistics show that elements beyond salary are important. Knowing what is important enables you to offer creative compensation packages. This puts you ahead of companies that follow traditional thinking and lack flexibility in tailoring packages to individual needs.

Here are some ways to create a flexible total rewards package.

  • Retirement benefits and financial education. Provide a sneak peek of your retirement plan, including profit-sharing or matching contributions. Any financial education programs included with your retirement plan are also great for wooing candidates.
  • Health benefits. Offer flexible medical benefit plans to meet the needs of a multigenerational workforce.
  • Commuter benefits. Allow employees to reserve income on a pretax basis to save tax dollars and increase take-home pay. And as the employer, you save on payroll taxes.
  • Continuing education. A Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) report found that an organization’s commitment to professional development contributes to job satisfaction. Offering full tuition reimbursement may cost too much. Instead, offer flexible schedules so employees can attend classes and gain new skills.
  • Volunteer hours. Great employees enjoy giving back to their community. Allowing staff 1 day a month for volunteer time is a great low-cost benefit that pays high returns in employee engagement, productivity, and more.
  • Concierge services. Bring helpful services to your employees to make routine tasks and errands easier to fit into busy lives. There are plenty of services like dry cleaning, pet walking, car washes, exercise, massages, and chiropractic visits that are free for you as a business yet valued by employees.
  • Flexible schedules and telecommuting. Allowing flexible schedules creates a more engaged team. With many larger companies ending remote work options, you have a great opportunity to attract employees who want flexibility.

Creativity pays off because you will hire and keep better employees. And retaining employees is always less expensive than the costs of recruiting, hiring, and training new ones.

Rebecca Barnes-Hogg
Rebecca Barnes-Hogg, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, works with organizations that want to hire the right people to be more efficient, effective, and profitable. She is the author of The YOLO Principle: The Ultimate Hiring Guide for Small Business and coauthor of Rethinking Human Resources.