Building and maintaining an effective team is one of the
greatest challenges that growing businesses face. It’s a constant struggle to
hire the right people, keep the team engaged and productive, and keep top
performers from jumping ship. Given that 80% of full-time employees are living
paycheck to paycheck, taking an interest in your employees’ financial wellbeing
can be an effective way to stand out as an employer.
Most people acknowledge the importance of
employee benefits to winning the war for talent. But they frequently
overlook the potential that financial wellness has to attract, engage, and
retain great employees. Let’s explore why investing in financial wellness can
help growing businesses succeed and how to create an effective financial
wellness strategy, including:
The importance of financial wellness
How to effectively leverage 401(k) plans
Which benefits you should consider in addition to 401(k) plans
Importance of Financial Wellness
Financial wellness benefits can have a significant impact on
employee productivity. Seventy-percent of employees currently experience
financial stress while at work, which should be no surprise given the fact that
most American’s don’t have $500 to cover an emergency expense. What comes as
more of a surprise, though is the fact that employees spend an average of 28
hours a month worrying about their finances at work. That’s almost an entire
week’s worth of productivity every month! Addressing these concerns and
allowing employees to focus on their work should be a top priority for any
You aren’t just losing hundreds of hours of productivity each
year from your employees’ financial stress either: you’re also risking losing
your most valuable employees to turnover. Employees who are worried about their
finances, and especially those who feel their current employer is not dedicated
to their financial stability, are much more likely to start looking around for
a higher paying employer. This can be an especially potent threat to growing
businesses who frequently cannot compete with major companies when it comes to base
Luckily, financial wellness is an extremely cost-effective
way to improve your employee’s financial stress and actual financial wellbeing.
Instead of sinking tens of thousands of dollars into increased salaries, you
can invest in financial planners, 401k plans with optional matching, loan assistance,
financial education, and more.
Financial wellness is not just about avoiding the negative
effects of employees’ financial concerns, either. Your benefits package is a powerful
tool to attract, engage, and retain the talent you need to thrive as a
business. Many employees would accept a lower salary in exchange for better
benefits, and that includes wellness benefits. Once again, this is great news
for growing companies who can’t always compete on salaries. Stellar benefits
show employees that you care about them and will go above and beyond for them,
and they will return the favor.
It’s also a good idea to consider not only whether or not to
offer financial wellness benefits, but also what financial wellness approach
will work best for your business. For financial wellness benefits to work, they
have to meet employees’ financial and psychological needs. Which means that
employees have to actually use the benefits. It also means that there is no
one-size-fits-all approach to financial wellness: your strategy should depend
on the specific needs and demographics of your employees.
401K: Taking a Deeper Look at the Cornerstone of
If you had to implement just one financial wellness benefit,
a 401k plan would be a clear choice. According to the 2018 Jobvite
Recruiter Nation Survey, 401(K) plans ranked just after medical and
dental benefits in their ability to attract top talent. That should make them a
top priority for any employer looking to beef up their benefits package and
assuage their employees’ financial concerns.
And the importance of 401k plans makes sense. Almost
two-thirds of employees do not have any retirement savings and those who do
have saved an average of just $40,000. No wonder retirement readiness is a top concern
for employees. But just like any other benefit, 401k plans are only
as effective as employees make them. How can you make sure that your investment
in a 401k plan pays off?
The first thing you can do is implement automatic enrollment
to make sure that all of your employees adopt your new or existing 401k plan:
this removes a major barrier to saving. You can even automatically deduct
contributions from your employees’ paychecks to spur their savings, allowing
them to opt-out if they wish. And if you have the budget for it, 401k-matching
is a time tested strategy that is sure to both encourage your employees to save
and win you major points as an employer.
However, your 401k plan should be just the first step in
your financial wellness strategy. By themselves, 401ks struggle address
employees’ immediate day-to-day financial concerns which are often the cause of
stress and decreased productivity. Many employees are so burdened by debt or
day-to-day expenses that they cannot bring themselves to think about saving for
retirement even if their company offers good 401k benefits. And they are likely
to raid their retirement accounts to pay for emergency expenses without
planning and assistance to give them greater financial stability.
Looking Beyond 401k Plans
So what are the other financial benefits that can make you
stand out against competitors?
One of the biggest financial concerns for today’s employees,
especially for younger employees who are especially prone to switching
companies, is student debt. America’s graduates owe a total of over $1.5
trillion in student loans and most Millennials would trade vacation time for
student loan repayment assistance. Now, there are plenty of pros and cons
to repayment assistance, but you would do well to consider offering
these benefits, particularly if you have young employees. Only 11% of employers
provide any kind of help or guidance on student loan repayment even though
about half of workers want help with the repayment process. But when employers
do offer loan assistance, they hire faster and increase average employee tenure
by more than a third.
So how can you help your employees with loan repayment? The
easiest method is to help them set up dedicated accounts with automatic
contributions to make repayment easier for employees to manage. This approach
incurs few direct costs to you as an employer, so it should be a viable option
for just about any growing company. If you have a bigger budget, you can also
match employee contributions to these accounts. Alternatively, you can work
with lenders to refinance private student loans at better rates. Finally, you
can provide educational materials regarding loan repayment and access to financial
advisors so help make management easier for your team members without directly
A robust financial wellness strategy should also include
financial planning and retirement advice. Providing employees with one-on-one
financial counseling can help them build their short-term savings as well as
plan for retirement, holistically supporting their financial well-being. They
can stop worrying about their finances at their desks and put their trust in
the experts who you connect them with. Best of all, this can be significantly
more affordable than matching contributions and other direct benefits.
Financial education is often the most cost-effective financial wellness benefit
and growing businesses can use it to improve employees’ financial wellbeing
with minimal investment.
Today’s employees are having more difficulty saving for
retirement, let alone emergency expenses, than in the past. It is probably no
coincidence that they are also changing jobs at an unprecedented rate.
Financial wellness benefits can be extremely effective at retaining the talent
you need and making your employees as engaged and productive as possible. Just
Your financial wellness strategy should match your employees’ actual needs to minimize costs and maximize effectiveness through utilization
401(k) plans are still the cornerstone of an effective financial wellness package and you can make the most of them through automatic enrollment and contributions, as well as employer matching
Loan repayment assistance is a rare but highly effective financial wellness benefit that can especially increase hiring, engagement, and retention of top Millennial talent
Financial counseling and education provides holistic financial support to remove employee stress and improve wellbeing
As with all benefits, it can be difficult for growing
businesses to provide competitive financial wellness benefits without incurring
excessive costs. The right partners can help you develop a strategy that
minimizes those costs while maximizing the impact on employees wellbeing.
Sean Condon of Windgate Wealth specializes in helping entrepreneurs build a culture of financial wellness by offering their employees unprecedented access to a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ as well as low-cost 401(k) plans. Part of an employee-owned team, Sean takes an owner’s approach and does his best to understand the many elements of his clients’ own entrepreneurial journeys. Sean has more than ten years of experience as a financial planner & wealth advisor.
The U.S. job market has drastically changed in the last decade. We’ve gone from a 10% unemployment rate in October of 2009 to a 3.6% unemployment rate in April of 2019. With more jobs than people to fill them, businesses are struggling to hire. In fact, 36% of small businesses couldn’t fill their open positions as of June of 2018.
Now that it’s a candidate’s job market, it’s time for recruiters and HR departments to change the way they approach hiring. If your business isn’t creating a positive, streamlined, and modern experience for candidates, you will miss out on quality hires.
In order to attract the best candidates, you need to reinvent your hiring strategy and ditch outdated recruiting practices. That’s why we created a list of the top 5 recruiting strategies that need to go—and what you should replace them with.
1.Cold Emailing Cold emailing is one of the most outdated recruiting practices you can use. Emails have a low average open rate of 20% and a response rate of a mere 6%. In today’s job market, when professionals regularly receive unsolicited communications, they are even less likely to open your emails.
Instead of sending cold emails, ask your business’s employees to refer and connect you with prospective candidates. Candidates are more likely to respond after a personal introduction.
2. Focusing On GPA When businesses evaluate younger members of the workforce, they often look at their GPAs. In 2013, 67% of companies reported that they screen candidates this way. However, GPAs don’t measure professional experience and aren’t accurate indicators of professional success.
Instead of focusing on candidate GPAs, review critical candidate skills, such as written, oral, organizational, and any other role-specific skills your open job calls for.
3. Geographically Restricted Candidate Searches In today’s cosmopolitan business environment, geographically restricted searches are one of the most egregious outdated recruiting practices. A majority of recruiters (67%) say their biggest challenge is a lack of skilled, high-quality candidates. Searching for candidates only located within your geographic area drastically limits your search—especially if you’re looking for higher-level employees.
Unless your business is on a tight budget, you should be searching for candidates across the country. Video calls and Skype have made it easier to reach these long-distance candidates.
4. One-Way Conversations Eighty-three percent of professionals say a negative interview experience can change their minds about a role or company they once liked. Interviews can feel like trials to employees—so be sure to avoid suffocating atmospheres, rude or pertinent questions, or intimidating two-on-one setups.
Instead of providing an unnerving experience, give your interviewees a chance to respond, engage in conversation, and ask questions. Smiles don’t hurt, either.
5. Scripted Conversations The majority (90%) of millennials, who are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, say brand authenticity is important. They feel the same about the companies they work for, too. Scripts can make an interviewer seem inauthentic and a company seem robotic—the opposite of what millennials want to experience at work.
Instead of using a script, try to make candidate conversations as real as possible. Go off script, be yourself, and have fun getting to know another professional.
Overview Many outdated recruiting practices are designated as such because of today’s new workplace standards of authenticity and positivity. In general, your business should be systematically humanizing the recruiting process to catch up with modern candidate wants and needs.
Ditching outdated recruiting practices, from cold emailing to scripts, will improve your candidate experience, widen your candidate pool, and help you fill your empty roles with high-quality talent.
About the Author Tim Schumm is the founder/CEO of Lucas James Talent Partners. Lucas James Talent Partners provides small and medium-sized businesses with a high-quality, cost-effective, and flexible talent acquisition solution through RPO (recruitment process outsourcing). Please visit https://lucasjamestalent.com/ to learn more.
This article was written by guest author Brandon Auster, Principal Consultant at BEA HR.
Acquiring and retaining top executive talent can be one of the biggest challenges faced by early stage and growing businesses. Maintaining a high-impact suite of executive compensation programs is a key strategy for meeting this challenge. These programs must be viewed as an investment in growth and value creation that requires diligent focus in order to be maximized over time.
Executive turnover is a disruptive and costly setback, with a
financial impact of 100% or more of a departing executive’s salary. Meanwhile, engaged leaders are far more
productive and effective at rallying their teams to drive growth. Getting the
right mix and design of rewards elements enables companies to attract, engage
and retain top talent, while maximizing their compensation ROI and driving growth.
Let’s explore some of the highest-impact compensation strategies
that high-growth companies can employ in the effort to cultivate top talent,
Aligning compensation with company culture and strategy
Leveraging bonuses at every stage of growth
Rewarding real results
Alignment with Culture and Strategy
Compensation is one of the most powerful and visible ways a
company demonstrates what it values.
Well-aligned compensation programs give companies an
advantage in the talent market and are a catalyst for teamwork, goal achievement
and thriving cultures.
On the flip side, when full alignment is lacking, even the
most well-intentioned and technically elegant pay programs can lead to disappointing
results, discord among team members or tension between executives and ownership.
Looking at the alignment of each individual rewards element is
required, as is a holistic look across all elements of the rewards portfolio including
base pay, bonuses, equity, perks and benefits.
This will ensure each element individually supports and drives the desired
company results and culture, while together, the overall rewards program is greater
than the sum of its parts.
Additionally, as a company grows and evolves, it must continually
reassess its compensation programs to stay in alignment with new circumstances
Bonuses for Every Stage of Growth
Bonuses can be a powerful element of an effective overall compensation
program. It is a common misconception that cash bonuses are only useful for
established cash-rich companies, while early-stage companies should focus solely
on equity compensation. However, the reality
is that currently, almost three quarters of pre-IPO startups with less than $50M
in revenue include bonuses in their executive compensation program.
Augmenting equity with cash bonuses can increase focus and
urgency, while helping employees stay energized during the series of sprints
required to generate long-term growth and equity payoffs.
Given their sometimes unpredictable and volatile pace of
growth, smaller companies may face challenges when designing bonus plans. This makes stress testing compensation plans against
the entire range of possible business scenarios especially important. It is required to fine tune plans to ensure that
fiscal realities are well balanced with desires to pay for performance and retain
Not only do bonuses encourage executives to contribute to
the company’s short-term goals that will ultimately lead to its long-term growth,
but they are essential in helping growing companies compete for high-quality
executive talent with larger, more established organizations.
Reward Real Results
Annual bonuses are an extremely useful tool in the
compensation arsenal. However, creatively supplementing a traditional bonus
plan with a results-based program, such as one of those listed below can improve
the impact and ROI of a company’s variable compensation investment even further.
Milestone Plan – payouts are tied to hitting a fiscal or other key objective. This serves to: focus the team on specific goals, incentivize attainment of important results, provide execs with added pre-liquidity cash and celebrate short-term successes. Costs can be fixed upfront at an amount that is commensurate with the value created by hitting the milestone.
Ad Hoc Awards – discretionary payouts are tied to positive performance. While this approach is quickly gaining popularity below the executive level, it can also be used to recognize and encourage upside results for executives. Costs can be managed by pairing with a bonus plan that uses modest targets and/or maximums payouts.
Medium-Term Plan – a two to three-year medium-term performance period is created and payouts are tied to a key success metric such as revenue growth or value generation. These plans can provide liquidity if a longer exit period is anticipated and generate longer-term focus with more tangible risk/reward than either short-term bonuses or long-term equity.
When clearly and proactively communicated, these plans
contribute to a culture of transparency and goal-oriented thinking that is
crucial to rapid and sustainable growth.
They lead executives to feel that their efforts are rewarded fairly while
ownership has confidence that payouts are tied to results that also generate
value for them. This win-win situation
creates a great foundation for long-term partnership and success.
While smaller companies don’t have all the resources of
major industry players, they possess many unique advantages in the war for
talent. Understanding these and using them
for maximum impact goes a long way in attracting, motivating and retaining top
Start with ensuring that people know how much the company is
investing in them. This is most
effectively done through concise, graphical, high-impact total rewards and
equity statements. Total rewards statements depict the value of base, bonus, equity,
benefits and perks. Equity statements demonstrate current equity value and
holdings along with the potential value derived from future vesting and growth
in the company’s valuation.
Closely held companies can exercise far greater flexibility in
issuing equity awards than public competitors for talent. They can use equity awards to reward strong individual
or team performance, recognize milestone achievements or demonstrate commitment
to key talent. It’s also important to carefully
develop a vesting and refresh equity grant structure that ensures everyone
continues to earn equity for ongoing contributions while avoiding vesting droughts
that entice them to look elsewhere.
Strong leaders seek out companies and roles where they will have
significant impact, experience professional growth and contribute to an important
mission. Each small company has its own
compelling story to tell current and prospective team members that other
suitors for their services cannot match.
For example, will company executives: have greater access to the CEO, board,
or other thought leaders; be part of shaping the future of an industry; work with
uniquely passionate team members; build a team from the ground up?
Every company is unique. The most successful ones understand and use
their special blend of culture, opportunities, programs, perks and purpose to create
a competitive advantage whenever possible.
Highly capable and motivated executives are required for any
company to generate sustained growth and succeed in bringing its vision to life. Implementing smart and creative rewards
programs are a difference maker in the ongoing effort to acquire, engage and retain
top executive-level talent.
The high-impact compensation strategies outlined above are a
great start for any organization looking to optimize its approach to executive
Let business strategy and company culture guide compensation priorities
Leverage bonuses to engage employees at every stage of growth
Focus on bonuses that reward real results to fuel company growth and long-term success
Leverage the unique assets at your disposal to attract and retain the best talent
If you want to take your compensation strategy even farther, don’t miss our upcoming webinar on high-impact executive compensation strategies. We’ll delve more deeply into the strategies in this article and provide more strategies to optimize the effectiveness of your compensation plan, including the most effective approaches to equity grants. Register today.
The way that a CEO spends her time makes a huge difference in what gets done in a company. Few CEO’s get the chance to see into how other CEO’s are spending their time, they don’t have the chance to compare their decisions to those of others. So when I saw that Michael Porter published an extensive study called The Leader’s Calendar in the Harvard Business Review, I dug in.
1. They don’t get much “me” time.
The average CEO in Porter’s study slept just under 7 hours a night and worked out about 45 minutes a day on average. The most disciplined of them had about 3 hours a day of family time, but they were diligent about protecting it!
Running a business whether you are a small business owner, or a corporate CEO is all consuming. For your well-being, health and longevity you need to be diligent about treating your body well, getting good sleep and spending time on activities that nourish you.
2. They don’t hide in their office, work from home, or depend on email to get things done.
The best CEOs spend the majority of their time (61% in Porter’s study) face-to-face with their team, their clients and their partners. In order to do that they need to be very disciplined about the time they spend on email! Leaders naturally get copied on a lot of stuff that they don’t need to answer or take action on. Separating out what needs their attention (a small fraction) from that which can be ignored, archived or deleted is a major skill that CEOs need to develop.
Porter reminds us that nothing substitutes for face-to-face interaction.
3. They don’t let their agenda get set by others.
One of my best bosses used to tell me, “If you go to a meeting with Bill Gates, who’s meeting is it? It doesn’t matter who set the meeting, if Gates is in it, it’s his meeting!” He told me this story to remind me that, as a leader, we set the agenda. In Porter’s study, just shy of 50% of the CEOs time was devoted to driving forward the goals or objectives they had set for the quarter or year. They know what they want to accomplish and make sure that everyone else does too.
Porter calls out as a best practice CEOs who look back every quarter at where their time went the previous quarter so that they can eliminate those things that took them away from advancing their agenda.
4. They don’t ignore the fires.
About a third of the CEOs time was spent “dealing with unfolding developments”. There’s always something that comes up, employees that quit, customers who are disgruntled, competitors who introduce something new… Those things need to be dealt with in a timely way — but without getting distracted from their goals and agenda.
5. They don’t get distracted by the routine or ceremonial duties of the office.
A little over a half a day a week got eaten up by routine duties, or events where the CEOs presence added gravitas but didn’t advance any agenda. The best CEOs worked to minimize the time spent on these activities, substituting someone else, or eliminating the need for it altogether.
6. They don’t forget their team.
One of the most important levers for these top CEOs were their direct reports and their direct reports. The best CEOs know that nurturing and developing their team is a prime responsibility for them and allocate their time accordingly (about one-third of their time was devoted here). By staying in contact with this group they were able to develop an “early warning system” to see problems before they grew too large. It also helped to burst the bubble that sometimes surrounds the leader where all the information they get is highly filtered. Finally, it keeps them tuned in to the talent pipeline so that they can nurture the next generation of leaders.
7. They don’t skip meetings.
Meetings are highly leveraged activities for CEOs. They can see a lot of people face-to-face, they can advance their agenda, they can hear information straight from the front lines. When you are the CEO, going to meetings is your job.
I don’t think there are any of us who love meetings, but getting good at running an effective, time-efficient meeting is a core skill for a CEO.
8. They don’t skimp on alone time.
Once a CEO has been with their team and has soaked up information, they need time to think. Most CEOs do that best alone. The best CEOs spent about 25% of their time alone, yet it was often in small segments of less than an hour. Blocking off time for thinking was critical to the success of the highest performing CEOs.
Key takeaways There is one resource that we all have in equal measure, time. If you are going to be a great leader you need to be proactive in determining how best to use that time. Working through your team by seeing them in meetings and one-to-one, gathering your own information and spending some quiet time to think it all through will make you more able to advance your agenda and succeed as a leader. If you don’t you may experience business owner burnout.
About the Author Brad Farris is Principal Advisor at Anchor Advisors, Ltd. Anchor Advisors helps small business owners to make the transition from the center of all things in their business to a leader with experts who report to them. To find out more visit anchoradvisors.com