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Beyond a paycheck Featured

9:33am EDT July 22, 2002

Attracting and retaining qualified employees is the top challenge for business owners today.

As it's become more evident that simply matching competitors' offers dollar for dollar won't be enough to land the talent you desire, the importance of developing -- and maintaining -- quality compensation packages and a challenging workplace atmosphere have never been greater.

So, have you ever wondered what an $80,000 a year position within your company looks like on the balance books? And what beyond that cash value you can offer to enhance the attractiveness of the position and your company?

According to Patricia K. Zingheim and Jay R. Schuster, authors of "Pay People Right! Breakthrough Reward Strategies to Create Great Companies," their research into companies that are reacting to the current labor market shows the following:

  • $52,500 Base pay

  • $ 5,250 Variable pay (cash incentive or stock option grants)

  • $21,750 Benefits (health, life and disability insurance; vacation, holidays and sick leave; retirement packages)

  • $500 Recognition value (cash or noncash)


$80,000 Total value

Individual growth

More than half a person's waking hours are spent in the workplace, so it should come as no surprise that in this tight labor market, people tend to gravitate toward employers that provide opportunities to grow professionally.

Ask yourself the following questions when considering whether a prospective employee will choose your company over a competitor's:

  • Do you provide formal annual training?

  • Is career planning part of your entry-level program?

  • How does your business offer effective performance management?

  • Are coaching and ongoing feedback provided at all levels?

Fostering a positive workplace

The days of setting up an office built from cubicles and corner offices, where management interacts with the rest of the staff only to bark orders and ensure production runs smoothly, are long gone, replaced with cooperation, mutual respect and open-door policies.

If you don't agree, your company's probably losing employees, your competitors are passing you by -- or closing in on you -- and whether you believe it or not, there's dissension in your ranks.

In organizations such as Progressive Insurance and numerous young Web design firms across Northeast Ohio, employees are encouraged to perform with an open office space, coffee bars, game rooms and a feeling that they can come to work each day and be judged by performance, not the clothes they wear or the size of their office.

Even consulting firms such as Ernst & Young have embraced the movement, doing away with formal dress codes and moving toward casual days every day.

While heading toward one extreme from the other isn't necessarily right for every company, the question is whether your business provides employees with the following to keep them motivated and challenged:

  • Quality leadership and colleagues

  • Interesting or attractive work

  • Work force involvement

  • Open communications

Creating opportunities for the future

No one likes a dead-end job. And prospects -- even just out of college -- are savvier than ever. They're looking for employers who recognize their aspirations to move up the corporate food chain.

Consider an internal review of your company's health and long-term goals. Are they attractive enough that you would want to work for your company if you were in a prospect's shoes?

Ask yourself if your business has the following attributes:

  • A company vision that's clearly articulated

  • Financial stability and a solid growth initiative

  • Sound plans for the company's future

  • A good company image and reputation in the community

The bottom line, say authors Zingheim and Schuster, is that in order to find out whether your business can compete for quality talent, you must look internally and determine whether the business is one that provides more than simply a paycheck to employees.

>If that's the case, they say, your company should do well in this new economy. How to reach: "Pay People Right! Breakthrough Reward Strategies to Create Great Companies" Jossey-Bass Publishers, (800) 225-5945

Dustin Klein (dsklein@sbnnet.com) is editor of SBN.