Employers of all sizes are losing faith that the perks they offer are enough to beat their competitors in attracting skilled workers. But are perks a valuable hiring and retention tool in the first place?
Recruitment firm Robert Half suggested late last year that SMEs and large corporations face their own unique challenges in trying to recruit talented workers – with perks playing a central role.
It said that while skills shortages are pervasive across the board in some sectors, smaller businesses admit to facing competition from their competitors and other “desirable companies” located within the same reason, as well as a lack of learning and development opportunities.
In the big end of town, however, it is something of an own goal that is the biggest recruitment challenge, as business leaders nominated very slow hiring processes as causing skilled workers to disengage with them, followed by out-of-date or cumbersome technologies, a lack of promotion of their workplace.
Yet the common belief among SMEs and large businesses is a belief that they do not offer enough perks to match those of their competitors.
“Small and mid-sized companies generally do not have the same resources for remuneration and professional development schemes as their larger counterparts, leaving SMEs in a position where they need to promote other aspects of their business to attract top talent. [Yet] SMEs are often more agile decision-makers which also [support] faster hiring processes,” said Andrew Morris, director of Robert Half Australia.
“They generally provide more variety within a role, and a more seamless uptake and integration of new technology and systems. These are all appealing selling points for candidates looking for more flexibility and exposure to various tasks and responsibilities.
“While salary remains a key driver for employees during the recruitment process, non-cash benefits such as flexible working conditions are also highly valued. SMEs should therefore prioritise the development of a comprehensive remuneration program that meets individual needs to remain competitive.”
Despite the findings from employers, fellow recruitment firm Talent – which specialised in technology and digital positions – suggested that work perks are losing their impact among workers.
The firm’s 2020 More Than Money Report asserted that it is the deep and meaningful aspects of a role – including meaningful and challenging work, career development, flexibility and a business that operates with a clear purpose – rather than superficial perks that make a job more attractive.
“It is widely accepted that a good place to work requires more than a ping-pong table and drinks on a Friday, but many companies have gone over the top with perks that don’t actually add much value to day-to-day job satisfaction,” Talent’s APAC CEO Mark Nielsen said.
“In-house baristas, massages at your desk and free lunches provided all sound pretty good on the face of it but they are not the things that keep employees happy at work.”
According to Mr Nielsen, “candidates are seeing beyond the glitter of this perk economy”, which is driving a shift in how businesses should approach their recruitment efforts.
“[Jobseekers] instead want to know if they will be valued and empowered to do their best work with the right tools,” he said.
“We are seeing candidates brushing aside the perk talk and focusing on finding out what makes the organisation a good place to work, and determining whether the work will be engaging and the leaders will be supportive.
“It’s not just enough to pay well and offer a few perks, with talent moving on more quickly than ever before, businesses need to be purpose driven and have a focus on health and wellness, flexibility, learning and development, and clear and honest communication to win the war for talent.”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.