Offering More Than The Competition!

I floated several different ideas for the title of this post by Cindy before landing on “Offering More Than The Competition”... She shot them all down! She said they were each accurate but would likely send the wrong message. As I was studying some material on The Model of Human Behavior yesterday, I read something from Dr. Robert Rohm stating “It takes a good C type personality to complete the loose ends of a D.” And thank God I have one…

Since I ended up going with a more appropriate title, rather than something that would have toed the line a bit, let’s jump straight to the main course. We looked at the importance of telling the right story in the last post, That matters! But we still need to make sure we can provide them with something more tangible to get them in the door!

Those of us who are blessed to live in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia may not always realize how great our job market has historically been. In addition to many great companies having production facilities up and down the I-81 corridor, and the poultry industry that provides work for thousands and feeds tens of millions, we’ve seen booming markets in nearly every other field as well. The cost of living is quite a bit lower and unemployment is nearly always well below the national average. 

All of those things make the area attractive to many folks who end up being amazing employees, but it also makes for an extremely competitive hiring market for nearly all of the employers throughout the area! With many skill sets being transferable from one company to the next, a common approach to attracting recruiting candidates is to simply beef up the wage and benefits package, just a hair above the company down the street where the talent you’re looking for works currently, and advertise like there’s no tomorrow… Doing this certainly gets some attention. And in some cases, it even reels in some really talented employees from other companies. But if someone joins our team just because we offered more money, what do you think will happen when someone else offers then a little bit more?

Don’t misunderstand my point here; total compensation is ALWAYS a factor when great team members are making decisions on which organization they want to be part of, but it’s definitely not the only factor! When I was hiring hundreds of people each year in a manufacturing environment, compensation and relative stability were the primary selling points. There was a time when that facility offered more intangibles, which we’ll cover shortly, but most of those were long gone by the time I was given responsibility for filling the open positions. I could offer several dollars more on the hour for even the most basic skill sets but I had to be very transparent about the massive amounts of overtime, their next several years being on an off shift, and the tremendous heat during the summer months. When the management team actually treated team members like human beings, that wasn’t a terribly hard sell. After quite a bit of turnover in management and new bosses who had no use for fraternizing with the minions, keeping positions filled became a bit more complicated…

For the next several years, I helped smaller, locally owned companies fill their open positions. While their pockets weren’t typically as deep in regards to pay and benefits, most were able to offer something the typical corporate culture seems to have moved away from: an environment of appreciation. In most cases, the hourly wage starts out a bit lower but can increase rapidly as skills develop. Benefits are usually fair, but not quite like the big companies. The small company almost always provides a family feel that’s hard to match! The newest employee becomes part of that from the beginning, often interacting with the owner during the interview process or within a few days of being hired. They’re not just a number! 

The other significant intangible benefit actually becomes very tangible, very quickly… Most of those smaller companies need team members to develop quickly so they’re very intentional about helping the newest people get exposure to new tasks and working with them to increase their skills. When this is shared with a candidate from the beginning of the recruitment process, in addition to the family atmosphere, the opportunities for future growth and advancement can quickly outweigh a little bit more on the paycheck initially. Factor in a better quality of life, a fair degree of flexibility, and being willing to treat someone like a human being rather than a robot, you may be offering far more than the competition even without making it rain…

We can’t just say this as part of the recruiting process though, it has to be what we deliver! We have to provide a clear path for growth and development, financially and professionally. Then we have to deliver on the follow through! We’ll look at that next time...

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