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How to compete for top talent on pay and benefits

5min read

Flare’s own Liz Crawford shares her top tips for SMEs looking to create an attractive pay and benefits package to compete for top talent.

At a glance

  • Employees want increased flexibility, authenticity, workplace wellbeing and a competitive pay package.
  • Remuneration isn’t everything if you’re overspending on an employee who might be the wrong fit.
  • Don’t sell yourself short as a smaller business. You have a lot to offer that larger companies can’t compete with, including offering employees better promotion opportunities and more exposure to business mechanisms.
  • Financial benefits are a great way to save you and your employees’ money, and can also tie into your employee value proposition.
  • A comprehensive benefits package allows you to match benefits to employees’ needs to compete with larger organisations.

Post-COVID-19, employee expectations have changed. Flexibility, which used to be a nice-to-have, is now a must, with some people believing they work more efficiently at home, while others value not having to commute.

There has also been a movement toward workplace wellbeing. While COVID-19 played a part in this shift, wellness had been becoming more significant for the past 10 years.

It’s more important than ever to embrace authenticity and allow people to bring their whole selves to work. That means you need managers who are trained to see people as individuals with their own strengths, weaknesses, needs, ways of interacting and preferences for communication.

People want to be compensated fairly, but once that bar is met, they look to other parts of your EVP.

The great job boom

Coupled with these changing needs and wants, we saw the hiring market transform at the tail end of 2021. Competition for candidates translated into higher salary expectations, meaning businesses needed to work out how to respond through hiring practices.

At Flare, our intention is for candidates to feel valued and for employees to be remunerated fairly, and to ensure we’re recruiting and retaining people at the right level. To do that, you need to understand a candidate’s current level of performance and their potential and use both as a lens to look at salary trends.

Ensuring candidates are aligned with your values is also key – and can give you an edge in hiring the right people. We strive for more for both ourselves and our customers, and that is also a core component of our employee value proposition (EVP). Flare employees get the opportunity to work on interesting problems with modern tools and technology, collaborating with smart people who have the same mindset. In other words – we offer development opportunities and meaningful work. 

For many, that’s more important than remuneration – or at least it’s less of a given. People want to be compensated fairly, but that bar can be met by many potential employers (and, as we have seen recently, can be raised within a day). Once that bar is met to their satisfaction, they look to other parts of your EVP, such as the experience they will have every day working with you.

Smart businesses find people who are a great fit for their organisations. For example, because we’re a growing start-up, we look for employees with a growth mindset. You don’t want someone in a role that may not be right for them – that’s a losing proposition for both sides

Competing on growth

There is much to gain from working at a smaller company – and much of it isn’t related to remuneration.

At many start-ups and scale-ups, you get as much responsibility as you can handle. If your employees are up to taking on more, support them in that endeavour and recognise their development. That’s much harder to do at a larger company, where there is often a hierarchy involved in who runs what, and there are several people competing for the next promotion – so in your recruitment and interviews, tell the stories of the people who have learned, developed and grown in your organisation.

Smaller businesses and scale-ups also offer the opportunity to be much closer to all levels of the business – such as senior leadership, other departments, and the overall business strategy.

When you add a comprehensive financial benefits program into the equation, you have a nice EVP offering to compete with larger organisations. 

For example, salary packaging is one of the greatest financial benefits a worker can get, providing employees with tax deductions that could save them thousands each year.

Other financial benefits such as discounts or access to special programs make people feel like they’re getting something extra from working at the business that they couldn’t get otherwise. And those savings often punch above their weight in sentiment – a few dollars here and there off specific purchases) feels like a boon.

I use our discounts to buy Woolworths gift cards, for example – not only do I save a little bit on the weekly grocery shop, but I’m also reminded every week when I shop for my family that we’re getting something a little bit extra from my employer.

We all spend our money differently, of course – I might be concerned about how much I spend at the supermarket, whereas someone else might value a discount of flights for their next holiday, or discounted fitness classes.

Targeting your benefits program

Whether you’re in a large organisation with a team of people working on your benefits program, or a smaller business with a sole HR director who also produces employment contracts and runs payroll, customisation of a benefits program is essential to ensure it matches your EVP.

If one of your EVP components is caring about people by treating them as individuals, providing flexibility and helping them grow, but you have no benefits offering – that’s not telling a cohesive story. 

When you combine a fair salary and a great benefits offering with an authentic expression of who you are as a business and what you can do for your employees, you’re putting your best foot forward in the market.

Learn more about hiring trends, the limits of remuneration and the financial perks that save you and your employees money. Download the ebook: Win the race for talent: How to revolutionise your EVP.

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