October 16, 2020

What Type of Competitive Compensation Creates Hiring Success?

by Chris Winterboer

The battle to ensure that insurance employers provide a comprehensive and competitive compensation plan has been ongoing for as long as I can recall. Some of the rules of engagement have changed recently, especially in the face of the pandemic, as more carriers and brokers closely monitor expenses. Payroll (i.e. salaries) being your largest expense, it’s important to explore alternative forms of compensation that insurance professionals really love.

The most important thing you can do is think outside of the box. You need to stand out in what is still a highly competitive market for good talent. These four examples are just the tip of the iceberg but a great place to start if you want to make small but impactful changes.

Flexible work schedules have a real value.

While this might be different for everyone, this is a big talking point with candidates recently. We had a conversation along these lines several years ago at Capstone. At a round table discussion, we asked a hypothetical question about how much money one might sacrifice to have the week between Christmas and New Year’s off. The number varied widely, but the consensus was unanimous that it was a good idea. We instituted the policy that year and never looked back.

I truly believe most people are going to want to get back into an office setting once we know it is safe. But there will certainly be some, if not many, that will want to work remotely occasionally. Maybe even a day or two a week. If they can’t get that at their current employer, it will be a question that comes up in every interview they have until they find what they want. Providing some of that flexibility will definitely attract more people.

Signing bonuses are back.

Not that they every truly went away, but they are becoming more common again. There are a variety of reasons for that.

  1. It is an easy way for employers to bridge any kind of gap with salary. It is a one-time line item for companies but puts cash right in someone’s pocket on day one. Win, win.
  2. Some candidates have been out of work for a while, again due to unforeseen circumstances like the pandemic. A signing bonus can help pay some bills and offset needing to go higher on a base salary with the offer.
  3. It is something that is still commonly used in lieu of a relocation package when someone is moving. It is cleaner most times to just add to the first payroll and let the employee spend as they see fit.

Supplies for home offices are reimbursed.

With so many companies moving to work from home for the past few months, some have decided to help pick up expenses in a home office. Some are small items like paying for home internet. Others are providing brand new laptops, company-paid cell phones, wireless headsets, and more. This fits into a broader long-term strategy of #WFH as well.

If you believe it is part of the fabric of your future work environment, you might as well get ahead of the curve. Spending a little money now could pay huge dividends down the road. Some of our clients have even made bold moves with changing office space by either downsizing or not having the most prestigious address in a downtown setting. If you can shift some of that office lease expense into the home offices of your employees, they may be motivated to work a little harder.

Tuition and continuing education reimbursement on multiple levels.

This is another perk that has been around for a long time but comes in and out of focus for some employers. It is definitely top of mind again for candidates as they consider new job opportunities.

  • The first level is reimbursement for college tuition. This can actually happen in two manners – reimbursing for future classes/programs OR providing student loan relief.
  • The second occurs most often when someone is coming from another employer who has this benefit, but the employee is leaving while some of the benefit has yet to be earned. In other words, they are facing a deficit or payback to past earnings from that employer. In these cases, candidates will want the new employer to help offset those costs.
  • The third level is for professional designations. This has become a hot topic as people work from home and figure now is the perfect time to chase down that designation that has been back of mind for years.


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