.I am writing this week to challenge companies to stop offering competitive benefits. Almost every job post I’ve read, and company I’ve worked for has told me they offer competitive benefits. HR departments love to tell employees that their pay and benefits are competitive, to attract and retain employees. Today, I will explain why this strategy might actually work against your efforts to attract and retain talent.
The Problem with Competitive Benefits
Whenever I had an HR professional, or an employment recruiter use the words “competitive benefit package”, or “competitive pay”, I typically discount the offering. To me, this means that the company wasn’t using their pay or benefits to attract and retain talent but pay and benefits are were not going to be a sole reason for leaving.
Before I offend anyone that offers benefits, and uses that as part of a talent attraction and retention tool, offering benefits is absolutely important. Most small business owners I know struggle to find ways to offer benefits, such as health, dental, and retirement plans to their employees. I am also aware that some of these offerings can be expensive, and businesses cannot always offer “the best.” My issue is with the language.
My issue with using the term “competitive” is that there is no differentiator. I think advertising competitive pay and benefits implies you are looking to do the bare minimum. Meaning, if the competition lowered their standard of benefits, so would you. I’ve seen companies lower their standard of benefits and justify it because they were being competitive in the market. Using pay and benefits as a tool for attracting and retaining employees should mean there is some differentiator between you and your competitors.
What do you do if you are offering the best benefits you can afford, and they happen to be on par with the market? Or what happens if you cannot even afford to provide benefits that are on par, but you are doing the best you can? Change the language. Don’t promote it as competitive, or even as a differentiator. State it as it is, that you offer benefits, or even a comprehensive benefits package. Find your real differentiator (career path, employee satisfaction, flexibility etc.) and highlight those.
I have been a part of many competitive teams in my life. The problem with being competitive is I’ve found myself on the losing side of a competition. I coached a little league baseball team that was extremely competitive. Unfortunately, we lost more games than we won, and usually by one or two runs. You don’t walk away from losing a competitive game, with the same feeling you get when you win.
In business, I’ve been in situations where a prospect or agency was taking bids for a certain project. Every time the company would spend many man-hours putting together a competitive proposal, and the company lost more than they won. Ironically, they expected to lose more than they would win. What impact does that have on morale, when people spend countless hours coming up with a proposal only to have it rejected, and to have this more often than it is accepted?
Being competitive gives the impression that you will win and you will lose. When a company is voted a best place to work, they post that all over their website, job posting, marketing material. People want to win and be part of a winning team.
This Week’s Challenge
This week, I am going to challenge you to take the words competitive out of your attraction and retention strategy. Start providing a strategy that differentiates you from your competition. Create a strategy of winning, and your efforts will be much more successful.
If you would like to discuss more ways to help your business grow or if you feel you have a specific problem that needs to be addressed, please reach out to me.