There may be buzz around “AI in businesses” and the latest digital marketing trends, but if people don’t work for you, your business doesn’t work. That’s why our current “war for talent” is the biggest business challenge of our day.

Let’s talk about it.

What is the war for talent?

Recruiting, engagement, and retention were never easy, but they found a way to get even harder in recent years. Most industries are facing labour shortages, and the competition to fill open roles is heating up. Candidates are interviewing for multiple roles, and the good ones will get to pick where they want to work.

It’s not entitlement making them choosy, it’s empowerment. They have more options, and they aren’t eager to settle for jobs that would have been good enough just a few years ago.


How do you win?

People will usually take the best jobs they’re offered. Their cost of living has skyrocketed. Mortgage rates are up, gas is up, childcare is up, even the cost of a Big Mac has jumped. 84% of Canadians are concerned about mounting debt and 40% are already dipping into retirement savings to pay down short-term bills. They want to get paid.

At the same time, one in five workers cite high levels of job-related stress; they want less of that. They want more flexibility, better training, more community, and opportunities to feel impactful. They want a better overall experience at work.

They want more, and if you want to win the war, you must give them more. Give them reasons to choose you over the guy down the street, then make sure they don’t feel like they’re missing out by sticking with you.

There are two ways to do that:

  • Throw more money into wages and rewards than anyone else, or
  • Get more efficient and creative with how you spend your money.

Since budget increases are rarely an option, let’s focus on the latter.


Doing more with less

If you take anything away from this article, let it be: not all investments are created equal. There are countless ways to spend a dollar on an employee, and each will be valued differently. You could, for example, spend every penny on wages. You’d have the highest salaries in your industry, but no benefits, bare-minimum vacation days, outdated tools, and no training—and no one would be happy.

Imagine you’re building an “employee investment portfolio” and look at the value each reward creates. If an employee makes $50,000/year, an extra $1.00 in wages becomes $0.70 for employees (after taxes). $1.00 put towards a health spending account, on the other hand, gives employees $0.90 to spend on their wellbeing (after admin fees). 

That’s just math; now consider: employees may value a reward far more than it actually costs.

  • What is an extra week of vacation worth to them? And what does it cost you?
  • What is peace of mind surrounding drug costs worth? 
  • Access to mental health care? 
  • A community environment?

While salaries might be the first thing people see on a job offer, it’s not the only thing they value. So, if you find yourself getting outbid by bigger competitors with deeper pockets, consider alternative ways to give more.

Improve the efficiency of each investment

A company party, while great in theory, is a waste of money if no one likes laser tag.

Apply that mentality to everything you invest in—especially benefits. You may not know, but there are dozens of customizable coverage options in every plan. You can choose which brand of prescription drugs are available; how it complements their spouse’s plan—even how long employees’ dentists spend on cleanings. Each of these tweaks can save money, which could then be put back into flexible spending accounts or other coverage.

There are also entirely new benefits models available to small businesses that forego traditional insurance model (which, without hundreds of employees, will always come with unpredictable rate increases). We recommend looking into “ASO benefits,” “Self-funded Benefits,”  or “Benefits Co-ops,” to see if one of these alternatives work better for your group.

How to start giving more & winning the war

Optimizing employee investments is a field with no end, and it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the first step. 

Our recommendation: talk to an Employee Investment Advisor. Our experts are trained to manage portfolios in ways few HR managers or benefits brokers can. When the competition is as fierce as it is, there’s a lot of money in play, and a lot on the line, it helps to have a specialist in your corner.

Book a discovery call today, and ask for a free Benefits Analysis for insight on how you can give more without spending an extra dime.