No one’s getting rich at work. Here’s why they keep showing up anyway.

I’d love it if every one of my employees looked at their paycheck and thought, “I just won the lottery!” But it’s not going to happen. I’m a realist.

Still, there’s this opinion in the business world today that the only way you’ll succeed is by enticing expensive talent with big, sexy paychecks. And you know what? It backfires almost every time.

Think of it this way: if you’re a small business and you drain your budget to entice a candidate that you consider perfect, what do you get? An employee who is highly motivated by pay. Honestly, there’s nothing wrong with money-motivated workers, except that when you hire one, you have to accept the fact that they’ll probably be motivated by money again… and soon.

My business partner and I have tried to staff our own small company with people who were motivated more by the job and the uniqueness of our business. We’re an outsourced HR solution with rockin’ tech tools. We’re not unique in that respect: outsourcing is and has been the wave of the future in HR for a while now, and really great technology has played into that significantly.

One way Stratus.hr is appealing as an employer is that we support our tech clients through one-on-one HR consulting services. In other words, we don’t just hire a few HR pros for a call center or act as an advisor to a team of novices. We hire tech-savvy, HR professionals, and make sure each of our clients is assigned to an expert. Those HR pros then help their clients solve employee conflicts, hire (or fire) workers, submit a workers’ comp claim, understand new regulations, identify a payroll problem, and so on. Our consultants are the “human” in human resources.

Because we’re an HR outsourcing company, we know that the second most important driver to job satisfaction (just behind job security) is a lucrative benefits package. At Stratus.hr, internal employees receive employer-paid health/dental, 401k match, gym membership reimbursement, free weekly private yoga, free concert and baseball tickets, an employee of the month/year program, and access to multiple cost-saving ancillary benefits. For us, it’s more about creating a family-friendly culture that offers meaningful benefits for employees. If we were trying to compete by being the biggest payer on the block, at best we’d be able to afford one or two employees. With such a lean staff, they’d be overworked and leave ASAP. No one wins.

Our current average employee tenure is somewhere around 12 years. We’ve been in business less than 20 years and it took a few years to ramp up, so 12 years says a lot.  Our employees stick around because they enjoy their jobs, and because we work hard to offer a workplace where our employees enjoy coming to work. To do this, we try to be timely when adding new team members — you want employees to be busy but not so busy that they spend what little free time they have searching for a different job. And when we talk to a potential job candidate, we’re honest, open and transparent about the role and the compensation. According to SHRM, this is a key part of successful recruiting for companies that can’t pay top dollar.

While wages in the U.S. today aren’t skyrocketing, they are rising. But so is employee turnover. We, on the other hand, just keep doing what we’ve been doing: being as competitive as we can be with wages, but staying within our financial means. This helps us provide a stable work environment for our employees and offer consistent pricing and service for our clients, too. Think of it as slow-and-steady growth that wins the race.

We’ve always felt we have more to offer as an employer than just a paycheck. We have a loyal team, a crazy competitive benefits package, a beautiful and comfortable place to work, do charitable work together, try to have fun whenever possible, and love what we do. We expect employees to work hard but we don’t expect them to give up their personal lives for our business. Our employees expect us to appreciate the hard work they do, but don’t expect us to break the bank to keep them happy. We’re happy to oblige.

And maybe that’s why we’re so good together.

Employee Retention Lottery

Is a large paycheck your key to employee retention? If so, you’ve missed the mark.

John Farnsworth

Author John Farnsworth

John learned at an early age the value of hard work, forming his first company before his 18th birthday. He co-founded Stratus.hr (originally “Innovative Staffing”) in 1999 and has an established reputation for his expertise, work ethic, and love for traveling.

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