Using “Soft Benefits” to Fill a Critical Position

Eight soft benefits that can help you hire top talent.

The demand for IT professional talent to fill vacant or new positions far exceeds the actual available talent – by nearly 40%.  It’s a hiring issue that’s had a firm grip on our technology employment economy for over 3 years.  The impact to businesses needing to backfill critical positions can have significant operational implications – as a result, it’s not uncommon for a talented candidate to find themselves with 2, 3, or even 4 offers when actively pursuing a change in their employment.

From the business perspective, it’s also not uncommon for the negotiations to quickly exceed the budgeted compensation.  Salary will always be critical to these highly sought-after candidates, but it’s not the only solution.  Businesses frequently overlook the value of “soft benefits” – according to CultureFit’s spring compensation trends survey, nearly 45% of candidates have indicated that soft benefits are as important, or more important than compensation.

Based on our past hiring negotiations – we’ve compiled a list of soft benefits, that either the aggressive or lean operating business may want to consider:

Workplace Flexibility

In a major metro-market such as Chicago, this is frequently deemed as a “must have” for candidates in the suburbs to even consider an offer from a business located in the city or in reverse – candidates located in the city who’s willing to consider a business located in the suburbs. The combination of the commute times, and/or frequently unreliable commuter transit options continues to play a critical role in a candidate’s decision making process, as early as the time in which a position opportunity is presented – it becomes a non-starter.

Flextime

According to HR.Com, Flextime is a type of alternative schedule that gives a worker greater latitude in choosing his or her particular hours of work, or freedom to change work schedules from one week to the next depending on the employee’s personal needs. Under a flextime arrangement, an employee might be required to work a standard number of core hours within a specified period, allowing the employee greater flexibility in starting and ending times

Summer Hours

Several businesses have adopted this system for employees across the enterprise.  Summer hours are defined in a variety of ways, a good example is to provide employees with ½ day Fridays during the summer months or rotating ½ day Fridays to allow employees a little more time-off flexibility during the summer months where vacation travel or 3-day get-aways are at their peak.

Tickets to entertainment events 

All employees enjoy an opportunity to attend a variety of entertainment events without cost.  Businesses have found there’s a significant value to employee retention and acquisition by paying a premium for a suite or box suite and allocate the tickets to employees or clients.

Continuing education

This soft benefit is deemed valuable by most employees, but for the competitive IT professionals, certifications are quickly becoming critical to their career portfolio – primarily driven by the constantly changing technical category.  A good example of this is security, encryption, and hacking methodologies.  This soft benefit is a win-win for both the employee and the business.

Earned, incremental vacation days

Time off is a low-cost approach to enticing employees who frequently work 50, 60 or even 70-hour work weeks.  The idea that an employee that’s willing to work whatever hours are necessary to complete a project, and know that the commitment is rewarded with incremental vacation days is translated as a company that recognizes everyone requires a work – life balance.

Performance Rewards

It’s not uncommon for businesses to offer annual or quarterly bonuses, but just as enticing are rewards that are often referred to as “spiffs” – these rewards are allocated with more immediacy following a “job well done”.  These awards can be monetary or non-monetary, the primary requirement is that there’s a perceived value by the employee.  Some businesses will also extend these to contractors to maintain continuity with external support resources.

Cell Phone, Auto, Transportation, Per Diems

To a business these are financial expenses that often can be written down or off, to an employee there’s a very real monetary value as it’s an expense that’s currently absorbed within their personal budgets.

Employee soft benefits can go a long way to competing for the best IT professional without having to break the budget.  Companies that have adopted soft benefits as part of their compensation are finding value in both attracting talent as well as in negotiation and securing the candidate’s that best fit the skills, experience, and cultural attributes that fit the needs of the organization.

Want to know more?  The CultureFit team makes it a point to follow-trends, and monitor new hiring ideas – we readily share this information with our client partners.  Schedule a few minutes, and we’ll quickly show you our value as part of your recruitment team.