Money Talks, but it Isn’t the Be-all and End-all of Attracting Great Talent

May 21, 2020 • 4 min read

Money Talks, but it Isn’t the Be-all and End-all of Attracting Great Talent

Brie Mason

Brie Mason

Most of us work because we need to earn money. It’s a basic human need that has to be met in order for us to survive in this world. If people aren’t earning enough to sustain their lifestyle, then the desire to earn more will be high. So regardless of which research report you look at on talent drivers, money will always rank in the top attributes for what people are looking for in a job.

But this doesn’t mean that companies offering a less-competitive compensation package are relegated to taking unsuitable employees. Beyond a certain salary threshold, employees start looking to meet their next sets of intrinsic needs. This is where it is critical for companies to strike – and employer branding content could be key.

Beyond salary: What candidates care about

In all my employer brand research, I ask the question of whether it’s about being ‘paid fairly for what I do’ or if it’s about earning ‘above market rates’, and every time people tell me it’s the former. When people are asked to rank what is most important to them in a career, most people indicate they want to earn what they deserve, not to be paid over and above.

When people are asked to rank what is most important to them in a career, most people indicate they want to earn what they deserve, not to be paid over and above.

Beyond merely salary, higher level psychological and self-actualisation needs, and how well a company fulfils them forms the basis for employee satisfaction. The order differs in each country/ talent segment but the drivers that are most important to people in a job typically are:

Benefits: Boosting your candidate reach

According to Gartner, when candidates view an organisation’s EVP as attractive, they can reduce the compensation premium by 50% and reach 50% deeper into the labour market. This means they can pay less but still attract more people to their roles.

when candidates view an organisation’s EVP as attractive, they can reduce the compensation premium by 50% and reach 50% deeper into the labour market

It should be noted that no benefit, tangible or intangible can offset an exceedingly low salary – if people are not earning enough to sustain the lifestyle they’ve built for themselves, or don’t feel as if they’re being paid their worth. However, if people feel their pay is fair, then in most cases people will choose opportunities that deliver on more intrinsic drivers.

The sense of feeling respected, having balance in your life, belonging somewhere, accomplishment, personal growth and achieving your full potential will be far more attractive to talent, resulting in organisations being able to attract and retain top quality talent.

Showcasing your company benefits through employer branding

Often organisations that are lesser known pay above market rates to attract a high calibre of employees. While this tactic over time will increase awareness and attractiveness of them as an employer, a high salary is, for the most part, a short-term solution. Longer term, a high salary rarely affects employee happiness or retention, particularly as employees become adjusted to being paid more, and their sense of ‘fairness’ changes.

The solution to this is to invest in building a great employee experience that delivers on the key drivers of talent, and to create a solid, enticing Employee Value Proposition (EVP) that articulates that offering.  

Focusing on your employer brand means treating your company as less of a hub for employees to gather, and more of a product itself that needs product strategy, as well as marketing attention and resources devoted to it. You need to create a product that your target audience wants and needs. If it’s not hitting the mark and people aren’t buying into it, then you need to improve it.

Focusing on your employer brand means treating your company as less of a hub for employees to gather, and more of a product itself that needs product strategy, as well as marketing attention and resources devoted to it.

Aside from drawing a more suitable pool of candidates through effective differentiation and attraction strategies, it also improves retention by ensuring that a company’s promise (your EVP) lines up with an employee’s reality.

And from what I have observed, the biggest challenge (or missed opportunity) is making sure your employees and the external market are aware of your great offering. Defining your EVP is the first step, but this is only a core message statement. It needs to be brought to life, embedded and communicated consistently across all employee touchpoints – internal and external – to be believed and celebrated.

Content – written, photos, video, etc. – can all help to showcase what an organisation has to offer. But rather than just creating marketing copy that sells the benefits, you need to back it up and provide proof points and evidence for how that is lived within your organisation. This comes down to setting out the exact policies you have in place and sharing real stories of employees who are benefiting from them.

About the author: Brie is an employer branding thought leader and pioneer in the Australian market, with over 15 years’ experience dedicated to building multi-award winning employer brands in the APAC region. Brie has successfully translated marketing and communications concepts to the world of HR to attract, recruit and retain talent.