So you’re thinking about getting married. You go out and buy a ring with a diamond in it, you figure out a romantic place to ask, and then you get down on one knee and POP the question. Somehow, she says “yes.” They key is that there are probably a large number of reasons she is willing to get married to you, but one of them is not the fact that you presented her with a ring. The ring is one of those compulsory things that you just kind of have to have, but it was not the deal clincher.
Similarly, salary and benefits are not engagement tools. The reason for this is that they are not differentiators. Everyone offers competitive salaries, and anywhere you go, the salaries will be within 10% of each other for similar geographies, similar skills and similar work. The same goes for benefits. The 401(k) and the health benefits can be better or worse, but probably are not factors for employees sticking around. Every employer is going to offer some form of benefits, and while the cost of benefits can vary greatly here, the value of these benefits is relatively lower now that most families have 2 income earners and so long as one of the partners has good benefits, the other can go wherever they want.
I write this as I read FoT’s post on the “anchors” that cause people to stay at your organization. It focuses primarily on salary and benefits. While I don’t argue that these are contributors, I think we have all know for years that salary and benefits are really just a commodity in the engagement equation. So long as they are competitive with the rest of the employer market, salary and benefits don’t differentiate your organization at all.
From a talent management perspective, I now ask a similar question – “What would happen if the government eliminated the anchors that ‘most’ employees perceive as the reason they work for a firm?”
Those anchors in my mind are – health insurance, retirement, income and stability. After those basic needs come the more esoteric, but important, elements of feeling recognized, feeling in control, feeling connected, etc. I say importance – but the right word might be “fear” – employees do some things for survival and fear before they worry about engagement. 1
Employee’s decide what company to join based on opportunity, salary, and benefits. However, they stay for how much they love their jobs, if they are doing good work, if they like their peers, and appreciate their direct managers. Salary and benefits has not been part of the employee engagement equation for ages. IMHO.
- Herbert, Paul, December 22, 2009. “Answering Why Should People Want to Work at Your Company. Anchors Aweigh!” Retrieved from http://www.fistfuloftalent.com/2009/12/anchors-aweigh.html on December 24, 2009. [back]