In the last post, The Ethics of Juggling Job Offers, we talked about accepting a job offer, then rescinding the acceptance if a better deal comes along shortly thereafter (or even before you start the first job). The discussion was from the candidate side.
It begs the question, What can an employer do to avoid losing a new hire?
A company will sometimes work too hard to keep the salary offer as low as possible, virtually challenging the candidate to accept it. If the candidate gives up on negotiating a better deal and accepts the offer, the company has instantly set itself up for a quick resignation if the candidate can find a better deal elsewhere.
That’s why I advise my corporate clients to do what company presidents like to insist that their employees do for their customers: “Don’t just satisfy the customer. Delight the customer!”
Why not delight the candidate?
What does that mean?
Make the job offer so attractive; present it with such enthusiasm; and seduce the candidate with such affection that even if a slightly better offer comes along, the entire package is just too good for the candidate to pass up.
For example, if you’ve set the salary range on the job at $100k-$110k, and the candidate asks for $110k and is actually worth it, what will you do? Odds are pretty good that you’re going to offer $100k or $105k because HR teaches managers to avoid offers at the top of the range, or even offers that meet the candidate’s request. “Let the new hire have something to work for!”
I’ve got another take on this. Offer that good candidate $112k. Yep — offer a bit more than the top of your range. View that extra $2k as insurance or, if you’re really smart, view it as an investment. $2k isn’t much. But it’s not just the money. It’s the sentiment. Yah, the sentiment. Sentiments count. Add some good sentiment to that offer. It will pay off later.
And don’t let the HR office deliver the offer by phone or by mail. The hiring manager should call the candidate to make the offer and, if possible, invite the candidate into the office and deliver the offer in person. Face to face. (You know — just like when you asked the candidate to take a day off from work and come to your office to interview.) Make it personal. “We’ve decided we’d like you to be part of our team. I’d like to discuss it with you in person. Could you please stop by?” When it’s time to pesent the offer, do it like this:
“You know what? You asked for $110k, the top of our range. Well, I’d really like you on my team. We thought about this. And we want to demonstrate how much we want you. Our budget is tight, but I’d like to offer you a bit more to show you how important we think you’ll be to our success. You requested $110k, but I’d like to offer you $112k to come work with us. The extra $2,000 is our way of saying we really mean it.”
Companies rarely do something like this. Rather, the offer is usually a cold letter or call from HR, with the subtle message, “Take it or leave it.”
An employer who loses a new hire quickly to a better offer should stop and ask, “What did we do to make this new hire want to work here, more than anywhere else?”
An employer should ask, “Did we beat the applicant up and make her disclose her salary history to us? Did we limit her ability to negotiate a good deal? Did we negotiate as if we don’t believe this new hire will return the extra money we pay her in extra productivity? Did we demonstrate our respect?”
In other words, did you show the candidate how you’d treat her once she was on board? Or did you give her reasons to keep looking elsewhere?
We’ve already discussed the ethics of job candidates juggling job offers. Now this is about employers tossing a good job candidate an extra treat because while you can’t buy loyalty, you certainly can signal that a good start to a working relationship is worth something to your company.
If your company isn’t smart enough to spend an extra two thousand bucks to gain an extra four thousand bucks in added productivity from a delighted employee, then your company probably isn’t worth working for.