Yiorgos Boudouris, Head of Talent at Forma.ai, talks about emerging compensation trends in talent attraction and retention. Yiorgos discusses how to frame compensation discussions with prospective talent for a win-win.
What trends are you noticing or hearing about from talent? [0:05]
With talent in the driver’s seat, something that I think that all of us can do within our companies is to really look at training and development programs and what that offering looks like. It’d be a conversation I’d be excited to have with candidates I’m recruiting. And what I mean by this is to think about training and development as employees grow and might want to shift their careers, or even take a pivot.
Oftentimes, we think candidates need to, or employees need to, change companies in order to start a different role or to move on to another opportunity. I’d rather have that conversation internally. So are there ways for us to develop training and programs where we can act like a jungle gym, and if you have someone in customer success, we’re training them to potentially be your next product marketing manager, or your next scrum master? Or you’re looking at your engineers and thinking, hey, maybe they would like to grow into being a product manager. And so how do you develop those trainings, and you get those support, and also create an environment where employees are comfortable communicating any changes that they want to see — without fear that it might not make it look like they’re not excited by their current role and their current function.
When we’re talking about trends and things we’re noticing from candidates, I actually want to consider myself in this. I changed jobs during COVID-19. And it’s because something was the priority that I never thought was important to me before, which was hybrid and flexible work.
For years, I had petitioned for working remotely, not for myself, but for candidates. I thought, the more I was able to offer candidates, the better. And so I always pushed for those programs, just so I could potentially get to a yes. What I didn’t realize all these years was that I myself really enjoyed working remotely and that it’s a place where I feel I thrive. So when I was changing jobs and considering it, that was on the top of my list, as you know, do I have to start going into an office every day? Is there flexibility for me to work from different locations?
How do you frame compensation discussions with candidates for a win-win? [2:04]
When it comes to framing compensation expectations with the candidate, I like to start the conversation myself. And so I’ll go over with the candidate all of the compensation and employee benefit programs that the place where I work offers. I’ll run through the list. And I’ll check in with them by the time I’m done to say, “hey, does this cover everything you’re expecting? Are there any missing pieces, or are there any potential gaps?” And if there is, we’ll go over those.
The reason why I like to get the conversation started is I think it puts candidates in a position where they can trust me. That they know that I’m here to share information, it’s not just a matter of them being put on the spot to share what their expectations are. I also think it’s important to ask candidates if there’s anything that they might miss out on if they were to join our company at this time. This is particularly important, say, for candidates who work for public companies. They might be missing out on a vesting period, given whatever date they start to join the new opportunity. So again, it’s all about transparency. And the goal here is pretty simple. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time. And so if we have any of these gaps in compensation, I want to identify them as soon as possible — before we get too far along in the recruitment process.
How can employers use total rewards to retain talent? [3:18]
It’s really important for companies to look at how they’re going to retain their employees and look at the people programs that impact this. As a recruiter, my focus is on talent attraction. But I equally want people on the inside of the business who are focused on that retention piece.
There are a lot of options when it comes to employee retention. I can think of compensation, flexible work arrangements. You can look at your people programs, learning opportunities, advancement opportunities and even your culture. All of this factors into whether or not an employee will stay with you.
Something that we’re trying out where I work (Forma.ai), we’re looking at retention bonuses. So traditionally, we’ve often had signing bonuses, which just help with attraction. But when it comes to a retention bonus, hopefully our team members are feeling recognized for what they contribute when they are with us. And it keeps their retention higher and gets them even more excited to continue that work.
How can companies rethink compensation to be more appealing? [4:15]
There’s a few ways that companies can rethink compensation when it comes to attracting new employees — but then also the ones that are currently working for them. For instance, when we are thinking of vesting periods. So right now it’s standard for tech companies to have a four-year vesting period. This is quite a long time when we consider that the average employee is usually just staying with a startup for two years. So what happens if we change that vesting date? If we looked at instead targets that are a yearly basis, that we’re rewarding employees based on their level of impact as it happens.
Another one when it comes to employees that are perhaps exiting where you work. The standard is 90 days that they have to buy the equity that they have with the company, especially if you’re privately held. Well, why 90 days? If we extend that and we’ll put less pressure on employees to have that money available to them when they’re changing jobs or leaving, and also it still means they’re vested with you. So they have a vested interest in the success of the work that you’re doing.
How do you adjust benefits to reflect hiring nationally and with fully distributed teams? [5:18]
I’m really excited to start tweaking our benefits now that our teams are distributed. I’d like to explore programs that focus on citizen engagement and their local community so our employees can craft their own experiences. So maybe that’s employers covering the cost of tickets to local shows, concerts, what name you. Anything that’s in the communities where the employees live, not just where the offices are. I think this is, of course, smaller scale and something we can potentially all be contributing to right away.
For wanting to go for something bolder, here in Canada, for instance, the topic of ongoing conversation is home ownership and how multiple generations won’t be able to enter into that market. Well, there’s the potential for companies to step in. They could, say, offer a loan or a guarantee for the employer’s, excuse me, an employee’s mortgage or backing for development — all of which the employer can gain interest off of.
The last thing when we look at our benefit programs and tweaking them, I think it’s important to acknowledge that when we are looking at distributed teams and working remotely, the chance for people to feel isolated is greater now than ever. And yes, we are comfortable talking about mental health and startups — that doesn’t mean that we’re necessarily adjusting the benefit programs to address the greater need.