We currently live in the era of personalized everything: Personalized medicine, personalized shopping, personalized playlists, the list goes on. People have a seemingly infinite amount of choices on how to customize and personalize their experiences in the world, whether it’s tailoring certain features in apps or using recommendation engines that serve up just the right content at just the right time. So, why haven’t companies started customizing employment offers to prospective hires?
In my work, helping senior-level technology talent negotiate their full-time employment packages, it is rare that the company offering employment asks for anything beyond their salary requirement. This question is laughable, in the absence of other information.
Someone’s salary requirement is going to fluctuate based on other aspects of the offer. For instance, if you’re going to let me work from home on Fridays, you can pay me less because that’s a really important aspect in my lifestyle. If you’re giving me a huge amount of equity, that may also impact my salary requirements as would the title or any number of other factors that go into a compensation package. If the job is going to require me to travel 10 days of month, then that will impact my ideal salary as well. Of course there are many factors that would influence this which I have not named but can be seen in our Lifestyle Calculator.
There is an overwhelming body of evidence showing that people who are happy and fulfilled make better employees. A recent study from the University Of Warwick concluded that individuals who are happy show approximately 12% greater productivity. If companies would start trying to understand what is important to a potential hire, they could easily make an offer that is much more enticing to that individual and reap the benefits. Not only would this allow them to save money in some instances, it would also give them an opportunity to see if there’s a culture mismatch. There are lots of ways to assess compatibility of cultures beyond this, but if you can get a sense early on that a candidates’ preferred lifestyle doesn’t fit with the company’s culture by asking the right questions, you can save a lot of time, money, and trouble.
Other studies suggest happiness doesn’t always translate into greater productivity. See Why Happiness Doesn’t Matter.
As seasoned negotiators on behalf of employees at 10x Agent On Demand, we begin our process by asking our clients (the would-be employee) to envision what they want their life to look like in their new job. Then we have them weight which factors of an employment package are most important to them. This gives us a very complete, personalized picture of what our client would ideally like to have. More importantly, it forces them to think about the aspects of employment from a different approach and allows many of them, often for the first time, to think about what really matters to their lifestyle beyond the topline numbers.
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Once we have our client’s priorities, it’s much easier to shape an offer that meets their goals. I’m astounded that HR departments that are constantly talking about the challenges of hiring great tech talent have not come to this conclusion and have not instituted these practices on their own. It is really in the interest of both sides of the table.
I did see, however, in one instance where a company made an offer to a candidate that had three different versions of the basic offer, depending on how much equity the candidate wanted. It is really quite rare and unusual to come across something like this. Why would a company think that the same offer would make sense for a single 27-year-old as it would for a 36-year-old who is married and has three children? Assuming they are going for the same job, most companies would make them identical offers despite the fact that their needs and values are very likely quite different. This could cost the company their perfect candidate!
In this world of ultra-customization, instead of placing one blanket offer in front of each potential hire that walks through the door, companies need to start thinking about catering the offer to the individual. Different candidates have different needs, wants, and motivators, and both sides will benefit from beginning this process more aligned than they currently do.