Is money always the critical factor in talent retention & attraction?

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Vice President for Information Technology in Education, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
I'm hooked on the show, Ted Lasso, and the main character shows how you can create an environment where people feel valued, and you can give them interesting projects. The illusion that we pay people so little that we can't give them a heavyweight project is nonsense. If they're waiting for a heavyweight project and they're talented, they’re happy to be asked. So the issue is always about things other than money. My question isn’t, "What can I do to get you to stay?" but "What's making you want to leave?"

Sometimes it's for a really good reason. For example, if you want to program in C##, and I don't need any C## programmers, then let me write you a letter of recommendation, because you did a great job for us. But if you're going because we're not giving you the right work-life balance, well, why can't I make your schedule more flexible? If we're not giving you projects that you find valuable, you feel like you're just a little cog in the machine, stuck in your cube. Let me get you out of your cube and give you a bigger project or larger perspective.

It's about finding those things that make people feel valued intellectually, because the people I really want to keep are those who contribute intellectually. It's not what they do with their hands, because that changes over time. The issue is how to keep them engaged so that they become less likely to want to leave. They're already here. I don't need to keep them here; I need to figure out why they want to be somewhere else. And if they want to make a lot of money and telecommute from the beach, I can't win that race. But if they have kids and they want to get them off the bus in the afternoon, but we used to make them sit in their office, I am perfectly comfortable with accommodating that. Because in the end, you'll do a better job than you did sitting in your office, worrying that your kids weren't being picked up.
Senior Executive Advisor in Software, 10,001+ employees
It's not always just monetary. You need to give the bare minimum pay so that people don't have to worry about their day-to-day physiological needs and psychological needs. You want to provide them a sense of belonging, so that you know they understand that they are part of a whole, and they are working towards a collective goal.

We're probably at the cusp of an evolution in enterprise working. We know there's going to be X amount of retention, so we need to take that as table stakes. What are we going to do with the people out there? Are they the right change agents for us? Are they the right people to help drive our organization forward?

How do we value the people who are sticking along with us in these hardships, instead of just focusing on hiring new people? Because I guarantee that will tick off people who are already working inside the organization if they feel that their loyalty is not being appreciated. So it's a very complex situation. The monetary aspect is the last thing that we need to look at.
4 1 Reply
Advisor | Investor | Former CIO in Services (non-Government), Self-employed

I heard from a very sage HRBP that I met while at eBay that there are four elements in deciding whether or not to accept a job:
1) Is the job itself interesting
2) Is there a career path
3) Respect of the exec leadership team
4) Compensation

Co-Founder and Director in Software, 2 - 10 employees
In my experience, no it isn't. As a bootstrapped start-up, it is a huge challenge to find and retain talent by paying huge salaries or bonuses. Hence we have had to resort to other means to employ and retain resources. We have observed that one of the key aspects that people look for is in being valued. If you show appreciation the right way, and ensure communication and transparency with the team, they won't want to leave even if they receive multiple offers with attractive hikes. Another key aspect would be freedom and responsibility. When team members are delegated with important tasks and you allow them the freedom to make mistakes and learn from it, it instills a sense of belonging which is valued by the employees.
4 2 Replies
VP of Product Management in Software, 10,001+ employees

Fully agree. A good analysis from McKinsey here (  

See the scatter plot inside.  In short, employers think that people leave because of a better job or higher comp. But instead, employees site "valued by manager", "valued by organization", "sense of belonging" as their top reasons to stay.

Co-Founder and Director in Software, 2 - 10 employees

Oh Wow, thank you so much. And the McKinsey analysis is so very interesting. Thank you so much for sharing. There's so much I can relate to here.

CIO in Education, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
It’s important but it shouldn’t be the critical factor. Leadership, cohesive vision and ability to make an impact are all equally as important.
CTO in Healthcare and Biotech, 11 - 50 employees
It might seem it is, but it’s not.

It is what makes them be challenged in an intrinsically way, you must ask yourself what is their drive to be at the company? Is it knowledge? Is it to be part of a successful company or an awesome team? Are they following up someone at the team as a mentor?

They might be questioning themselves if they leave to another company, what they will be leaving behind vs what they will be gaining in the end. If the balance goes to the other company, then they will be leaving.

I once read about the happiness formula, where:

Happiness = Reality - Expectations

If your expectation is higher than your reality, there is no happiness.

If your reality is higher than your expectation, then you are happy.

In the end, people will stick at your company if they feel they are happy about what you give then intrinsically & extrinsically.
Director of IT in Software, 201 - 500 employees
There are a lot of factors that play a role.

Will good employees stay only for the money? Certainly not, it’s a combination of things. Money plays a significant role if someone is underplayed or well below the market then yes, that might be a reason to lose a good employee. In my experience, the employees that are the most motivated and engaged are not always the ones that are paid the highest. It depends on what drives them. More often than not employees want to feel valued and respected, have a sense of belonging and clear path for their career progression.
CIO in Education, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
No, money is not always the critical/most critical factor, but it is generally part of the equation, especially on our non-leadership positions.
Director of IT in Education, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
Salary is merely a hygiene factor when retaining and attracting staff. Of course, having a fair and competitive salary is essential to satisfy the base needs of employees, but it is rarely the main factor that drives employees. Other factors such as work-life balance, organizational culture, opportunities for growth and development, recognition and appreciation, and a positive work environment are crucial.

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