Job Seekers Say ‘Show Me the Money’: Compensation Now Trumps Professional Development as Most Effective Recruiting and Retention Tool

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According to the recent 'Harris Allied 2014 Tech Hiring and Retention Survey' conducted by executive search firm Harris Allied, respondents affirmed that a competitive compensation and benefits package is now their most important recruiting tool, up 4.4 percent since 2012.

Whereas opportunities to grow and advance professionally used to entice prospective employees, especially the highest caliber employees, people are more interested now in cash compensation when considering a job change.

The demand for top technology talent is consistently ranked as the top HR priority for management, but the most effective tool for addressing those needs has changed in recent years. According to the "Harris Allied 2014 Tech Hiring and Retention Survey" conducted by Manhattan-based executive search firm Harris Allied, finding and hiring top talent, along with retention, have ranked as the two greatest concerns among survey respondents since the survey’s inception in 2012. What has changed, however, is the shift in focus from career growth and professional development to compensation and benefits as the most effective recruiting tool. In 2014, according to the survey, 28% of respondents affirmed that a competitive compensation and benefits package was their most important recruiting tool, versus 23.6% in 2012.

According to Kathy Harris, managing director of Harris Allied, “Post 2008, employees are more skeptical about annual bonuses and other forms of non-base salary compensation because many employers did not pay annual bonuses during the recession. As a result, employees now want to see more guaranteed compensation.”

“Whereas opportunities to grow and advance professionally used to entice prospective employees, especially the highest caliber employees, people are more interested now in cash compensation when considering a job change,” adds Harris.

The same can be said for employees who leave jobs because they are offered better compensation elsewhere. According to the survey, the majority of respondents (27.5%) said that they believed that people left their company because they were not offering a competitive enough compensation or benefits package.

Harris offers employers a few suggestions to help their job offers stand apart and reduce employee attrition given the renewed focus on compensation packages:

  •     Make sure your salary and benefits are competitive. Position your total package, including base salary, bonus, equity, as well as retirement and health insurance benefits. In particular, talk about the cash aspect of your comp package and provide historical averages for your bonus structure to demonstrate a good track record.
  •     Be prepared to discuss your total compensation and benefits package earlier in the game. Don’t wait until you are ready to extend an offer to discuss your compensation plan with candidates. Make sure to talk about the standout features of your package, such as a defined benefit plan, an options pool, equity participation or restricted stock, for example.
  •     Think about other things that you offer, such as unlimited vacation time or a generous PTO plan, holiday week closures or the ability to work remotely.
  •     Discuss upfront why people leave or, better yet, don’t leave, your company. Have an elevator speech ready about why it’s great to work at your company and why people don’t leave the company to take a job elsewhere. If attrition is low or your summer interns clamor to come back after graduation, brag about it.
  •     Find ways to stretch your compensation budget. Large corporations may be less flexible in this regard because their compensation structures are so well defined. Smaller businesses can often be more nimble when competing for top talent. If your purse strings are tied, look at your bonus, restricted stock units (RSU) or options pool to create a compelling offer.

“Attrition can cost the average company with a few hundred employees millions of dollars each year in lost opportunities, increased expenses for consultants, and higher recruiting costs. Given this, employers need to see retention as a strategic initiative. Fight to keep your people, be generous with your bonus plan and always keep an eye on what others in your industry are doing,” Harris adds.

About the Survey
The "Harris Allied 2014 Tech Hiring and Retention Survey" was conducted in November 2014 among 193 executives ranging from C-level to middle-management executives within the information technology sector. Survey participants represent a mix of perspectives ranging from large industry leaders to small start-up companies in the United States, India, Israel and Germany. To see the complete findings of the 2014, 2013 and 2012 surveys, visit

About Harris Allied
Headquartered in New York City, Harris Allied provides premier executive search, technology and quant analyst placement services to the financial services, professional services, consumer goods, digital media and tech industries. The firm represents clients that are at a variety of growth stages: from tech start-ups to established industry leaders. Harris Allied’s unique understanding of the technical recruiting process and its nuances ensures that professionals properly brand themselves and prepare for successful interviews and that hiring managers achieve exceptional results. Harris Allied Research conducts industry research and shares data that helps their clients develop informed hiring strategies and efficiently attract and retain top talent. For more information, visit

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Nina Dietrich
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