During one of today’s sessions in our management meeting, we discussed how difficult it was to find the right candidate for a job opening. Some vacancy gets a mob of applicants, while some others attract nobody. But at the end of the day, both kind of vacancies return the same fruitless result.
People who applied for what seemed to be the favorite opening happened to be not the kind of candidates that we are looking for. “We have posted the same vacancy five times, and still we got nothing,” a colleague said. Even the best known recruitment website does not guarantee satisfactory results.
It seems that good talents are so rare today, we have to pry one out of the clenched fingers of another company. And getting a good candidate is just half the battle. The rest remains in keeping the good people in. Some are just eager to find another job, after spending only a few months (in some cases, a few days) with us.
To win the battle in the tight talent market today, value proposition of a company plays an important part. What can people get from joining an organization?
Any working relationship between an organization and its people can actually be reduced to a simple economic transaction between time and compensation. What do people get for the time they give to a company?
The most obvious answer would be money. This is the most common transaction in our everyday lives. We pay for everything with money, either it’s the money that we have now (paying with cash), or the money that we believe we will earn later (paying with credit). A company may pay salaries to its employees in front (cash), or at the end of the month (credit) for their services.
These days, money is only part of a compensation. A company may also pay for the time of its people in benefits. This can take in many forms, but basically, it’s very much like a barter transaction, in which a good or service is paid with another good or service. For the time the employees render to the company, in turn they get a certain number of days a year in which they will get paid without having to work.
What comprises a value proposition of a company is a combination of both compensation and benefit. Those are usually stipulated in the employment contract.
The funny thing with people is that many times, things are not as plain as they seem. Yes, people work to earn a living, for those compensation and benefits written in their employment contract. But on top of that, there are other unwritten reasons that may keep some people working in one place for years.
This is where the concept of value proposition in a workplace gets murky.
Regardless of what a company can offer to its employees, those things are never a guarantee of loyalty. The choice to stay or to leave is always in the hands of each person, not in the management’s. Value proposition is therefore not much different from beauty: it is always in the eyes of the beholder.
And the funny thing about a company is, no matter how big or powerful it is, it will always be a collective of people. Whether a company is beautiful and attractive, or whether it is ugly and repulsive, all rests in what the job applicants see in its people.
It is therefore logical to say that the only value proposition a company has, or the only thing that makes a company different, whether in a good or bad sense of the word, is its people.
To quote Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines, when he explains about the success of his company, “Obviously you can buy the airplanes, and you can lease ticket counter space, and you can buy computers; but the intangible things – the esprit de corps – is the hardest thing for people to imitate.”
So what does this mean to us? We may need to follow Southwest’s example: creating an esprit-de-corps that makes people falling in love with us and dying to join our company.