August 9, 2021 - Management


8 Ways to Secure Top Talent Without Offering More Salary

Hiring in North America has not been this challenging in a very long time. The employment rate is at an all-time high, and the best candidates have been able to negotiate great compensation packages for themselves as they get multiple offers for employment. As you start looking for the next superstar to further your company’s goals, deciding how hard you can compete for talent is important. While there are trends, tools and best practices that are making candidate relationship-building easier--such as text communication to schedule interviews or being able to offer more flexibility to the work schedule for some roles—money is still a primary driver for candidates.

An important lesson many learn is that salary has traditionally been king. And this king is powerful because it compounds year over year on your list of expenses. Not every company can spend more now, but every company wants to attract and retain the best talent for their team. This is where the candidate recruitment experience and your employer brand can be a strategic differentiator as you explore your flexibility to spend money on hiring quality talent. If we go back to cash being king for a moment, it’s important to remember that people don’t come to work just for money. Everyone wants to feel valued for their contributions and work on interesting projects for a great brand. As you think about the hiring experience from a candidate’s point of view, there are a few ways to minimize the amount of extra cash you need to help candidates consider your company over others.

Understanding one-time costs versus compounding costs is a good starting point. If you can give someone an upfront, one-time signing bonus in lieu of a higher salary, it will save your company money year-over-year. When you get into their second year of employment, having to raise a salary that is already high by a percentage amount compounds the cost and can add much more to your annual operating costs than giving that same raise to an employee who started with a lower salary and a one-time signing bonus. Even hourly employees in lower earning roles that are in high demand can be swayed with small cash bonus up front to help you gain a competitive advantage.

As you approach your budget and talent needs for the next few quarters, you may find you have less flexibility to offer bigger salaries to help you win the talent war. While everything has some cost, there are alternative areas you can invest in that cost much less and will not steadily rise like a salary does. Here are eight of them that might help you:

1. Offering Flexibility

Whether it is the start and end time of the workday, a compressed work week, or the offer to work from home at times, these are all coveted offerings as it allows candidates to find a work/life balance that fits their needs and lifestyle. If the job allows for flexibility and can be done without requiring the candidate to sit at a workstation from 9:00 to 5:00, Monday to Friday, it’s worth considering.

2. Covering Perks

There are tons of creative offerings that matter to employees and are often available at a small cost. A few examples of relatively inexpensive perks are: subsidies for public transit, extra uniforms provided by the company, meal services at work or delivered to the household, a monthly budget to use ridesharing services instead of commuting, free or discounted laundry/dry cleaning, popular gym or lifestyle club memberships or discounts. These perks should provide value by supporting a candidate’s lifestyle outside of the workplace.

3. Job-Sharing or Part-Time Work

Many people have their own reasons for wanting to work less than full time. They may need more time to take care of their family, or they may already be working a part-time job that they don’t intend on leaving and want to add to their income with another part-time job. Regardless of a candidate’s reasoning, offering part-time or job-sharing options where two people perform what was once a full-time job can give you more coverage in talent and attract some amazing candidates who wouldn’t otherwise be interested.

4. Having Good Managers

A positive workplace culture is a competitive advantage. If you invest in managers who care about their teams and prioritize teaching and coaching employees, you will be able to attract, develop—and importantly—retain your top talent. It’s been proven many times that people work for people, not companies, so make sure your managers are good listeners, care about their people, can show empathy, and above all else, take an active role in the development of the members of their teams.

5. Offer a Hiring or Signing Bonus

As previously mentioned, hiring bonuses are one-time costs. They don’t compound year-over-year like salary does. A signing bonus can help you counter an offer with a higher salary from another organization and be equally attractive up front as many bonuses can be paid within the first three months and can have a condition of repayment if the employee leaves before a set amount of time. For hourly workers, a few hundred dollars up front can make a big difference in whether they decide if they want to join your organization.

6. Starting Benefits Coverage Earlier

Along with salary, health care, dental, and vision benefits are also a primary driver for candidates. The traditional model for health care benefits in Canada and the United States has been to delay offering benefits for 90 days to get through a probation period. However, if you can offer a benefits package from day one, especially in the United States where health care costs can be very high without benefits or insurance, this is a great employee incentive. A company could also offer to reimburse existing health costs or pay for the previous employer’s benefits until the transition occurs as an alternative to offering your benefits package right out of the gate.

7. Reimbursing Education Costs

Another great non-compounding benefit is education subsidies. The skills needed to do a job can change quickly and employees will need to learn to keep up and continue to provide a competitive advantage for the company. Organizations should foster a culture of continuous learning and development, and subsidizing education costs makes it easier for employees to increase their skillset and provide more value to the organization. The investment in learning benefits both the employee and the company in the long term.

8. Having Modern Work Tools

This one may seem obvious as computers are a standard in today’s business world, but in many companies, employees are required to bring their own devices to work. Offering a broad range of devices to choose from or solid reimbursement plans for employees to purchase the latest and greatest work computers is a draw that should not be overlooked. Think about workstations, cool collaboration spaces, high-quality headsets, dual monitors, choice of office chairs and health snacks. These are all things that attract candidates looking to have a positive work experience. Consider providing software tools that make doing the job simpler and more efficient as well. Not only will this be enticing to the right candidates, but it will also improve the organization’s productivity and efficiency. Talk about a big win.

Be Creative With Employment Offers

Remember, money does reign as king when it comes to what high quality candidates are looking for in their employment. If you offer 30% less salary than your competitor, even this list will not help you win the talent war. However, if you offer 30% more salary, your balance sheet might start to look a little funny and it will be difficult to sustain making above-market salary offers for many roles. The market is competitive so taking the time to understand what matters to a candidate beyond salary and being creative with offering the advantages you can afford will help show candidates you care about their experience and help you land high quality talent without paying more than you can afford.

 About the author: Jeremy Eskenazi is an internationally recognized speaker, author of RecruitConsult! Leadership, and founder of Riviera Advisors, a boutique Recruitment/Talent Acquisition Management and Optimization Consulting Firm. Jeremy is not a headhunter, but a specialized training and consulting professional, helping global HR leaders transform how they attract top talent at some of the world’s most recognized companies. For more information on Jeremy Eskenazi, please visit:

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