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Throwing pennies into the talent wishing well

09 November 2016Jonathan Faurie

We come across a lot of articles about businesses and how they should be run. One of the most pertinent challenges today is how to attract – and retain – young talent.

We came across an article written by Promise Phelon, CEO of TapInfluence, who wrote for the Fortune website titled: The One Thing That Matters More Than Perks to Attract the Best Talent.It provided insight that we thought business owners may find helpful. 

It’s all about the benefits

Finding the right job has almost always been as much about the benefits as it is about the job. However, the tech revolution has changed the way we see benefits, with companies like Google , Salesforce, and Twitter offering perks like fully-stocked kitchens, concierge services, on-staff chefs and baristas, laundry service, car detailing, game rooms, free transportation, and more. 

As the Googles of the world continue to top lists of best places to work, some startups may look to offer similar, and often crazier, employee perks in an effort to compete for top industry talent. 

Confusion confluence

Unfortunately, that’s created an environment where company perks are conflated with company culture. 

Of course, startups need to offer certain benefits in order to attract and retain talented and ambitious employees. However, it’s more important to focus on developing an enviable culture and allowing perks to be an extension of it; not the other way around. Perks are not a replacement for a strong culture. 

Think of it like an iceberg: there’s a lot going on under the surface when the company is investing in culture. Only then, on top of that solid foundation, should perks be a focus. 

For instance, offering meals for everyone should not really be about free food; it should actually about building relationships and trust, and respecting the contributions of a hard-working team. If people sit at their desks with headphones on working through lunch, there’s no interaction and no relationship-building. 

So providing a space for gathering and conversation goes hand in hand with cultivating a culture in which your employees feel connected not only with the company mission, but with each other, as well. 

Equity partners 

In a startup, one of the most important perks you can offer employees is equity. Not everyone is cut out for the risk and pressure of working for a startup, so the people you want to attract are the ones willing to take on the risk with passion and enthusiasm. 

While there’s no guarantee of startup success, offering stock options turns the high risk into a potentially equally high reward. Stock options cultivate an ownership culture where employees work hard to ensure the success of the company in the hope for a reward bigger than just a paycheck—and not just monetary. 

They become makers, doers, and builders. They’re exposed to financials, people operations, marketing and communications, sales processes, and are invested in every facet of the company’s progress. 

Investment in success 

Focusing on culture also develops and fosters intrinsic motivations, such as autonomy and mastery. This requires getting to the why of employee engagement. Three key facets we take into account are transparency, winning habits, and individual learning. 

Engaged people believe in what they’re doing, and transparency provides the visibility that is required to build trust. The more people are included in what’s happening with the business, the more invested they are in its success. 

Its all about what you stand for 

No matter what perks your company offers, someone else will offer the same thing; or something better. For good or ill, the culture is the foundation of the company’s reputation and is what helps companies of any size attract, retain, and grow great talent. 

Instead of putting together a slew of fun and quirky perks, ask yourself who you are. What kind of company culture do you want to create, and what kinds of benefits and growth plans can you offer to support that culture?

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