Mo Money Mo Problems

In the world of C&B and employee experience, the balancing act of giving your people what they wish for and creating a longer term, more strategic benefits package is something we should never lose sight of. Compiling the correct combination of benefits to be competitive in the race for talent, but also make sure that the long-term philosophy or vision is not hampered, should be top of the agenda for any C&B strategist. Getting this balancing act right is exactly how the benefits strategy can support recruitment, and employer branding, and play it’s role in the talent attraction race.

Being the genie in the bottle

Frosting the top of the cake for a tastier and more appealing snack is easy to implement and can give the short-term dazzle needed for employee attraction, but does not consider the long-term.

Let me explain more. To fix the short term, that frosting on the cake, it’s a no brainer: just ask people what they wish for and give it to them. You want food? We hire a chef at our office. Nowhere to live? We build houses and let our employees use them. You have kids? We build a kindergarten for you. Your spouse doesn’t have a job? We employ them. You want more time off? No problem, we add more vacation days.

Doesn’t this sounds like the best company in the world from a people experience perspective? Maybe some companies fall into the trap of thinking that with this people strategy the best talents in the world can be successfully attracted and retained, and therefore stay ahead of the game for hundreds of years. But of course, there’s a red herring! And this is it: by granting all these benefits to attract talent in the short term, what headaches are we creating for ourselves in the long term?

When only thinking of the short-term, today’s problem solving often becomes the root of tomorrow’s problem. When a company operates at a hyper growth it quenches it’s thirst for talent in the short-term and it’s easy to lose sight of long-term sustainability.

Looking back, over my shoulder

At the other end of the extreme: focussing too much on the long-term makes it easy to fall into the trap of only concerning ourselves with what might hurt us further down the line. It’s likely that this route will lead to never making any changes to the benefits package, making it non-competitive and landing the company with a stagnant benefits package that does not reflect the company culture.

How did I come to this conclusion? Well…when I looked for inspirational examples to help explain this balancing act, I thought about checking out those considered to be the best employers in the world and look at what are they doing. But of course they are deemed the best employers in the world so they are definitely successful today, but we don’t really know how successful they will continue to be in the long run. The only way to learn is to draw our conclusions from the past.

So I looked 60 years back…Swedish business was booming and a common challenge for many employers was attracting and retaining talent. Not so far from what we see today. Many companies implemented their employees wish list of benefits with great success. Attraction and retention was solved. But eventually every employer was offering similar benefits and no company could compete on this alone. They needed to redefine their C&B strategy with their company’s culture, agility and identity in mind.  But it was too late for many – they couldn’t get rid of the legacy or get out of the hole that they’d dug themselves into.

It’s there in black and white, in the news print of the 60’s, if you can look past the headlines and find the sticking points for many companies, you can see that their people strategy was to please in the short-term. If they had been able to balance the short and long term, their most likely would have had more longevity with their success.

So how do you decide where best to invest now, so that you can be successful at attracting and retaining talent in 10 years time? The true answer is that we don’t know. But what we know is that new companies tend to be faster to adapt their offers in comparison to older companies. They don’t have legacy and can start with a fresh page. So, this is the key – avoid the legacy that will get you caught in a trap. Instead, focus on allowing yourself to be nimble and to act fast.

How we do

The true success stories come from those who manage to balance short and long term. But it isn’t easy. If C&B can do this well, the package offered can be a major pillar in the employer branding strategy, supporting both the talent acquisition and the retention.

At Spotify, these strategies and choices get a lot of our attention. We spend time focussing on ensuring that today’s solutions in the race for talent are not tomorrow’s problems in the race for innovation and speed. We try to imagine our organisation 10 years from now, and think about what our challenges will be. It’ll probably be the same as always: attract and retain the talents needed to secure short term success and long term innovation, but what really matters today is whether the structure we build will allow for this innovation in the future. We have the core benefits you can expect from a decent employer and we spice it up with perks that support our culture. We can easily adjust the perks, should tomorrow talents have other needs.