How to Hire and Discuss Salary Amid Rising Pay Rates

November 3rd, 2021

Ever since the coronavirus pandemic swept into our lives in the spring of 2020, the future of work has become a clouded crystal ball. Neither employees, nor employers, nor job seekers know for sure what opportunities or obstacles lie around the bend. This means the salary negotiation process now feels like more of a gamble than a strategy. But there are still ways to improve your odds of coming out ahead in the long run. Start by keeping these basic principles in mind.

Stay on your feet and test the wind.

It may seem exhausting to constantly watch the news and dial into trends and cultural currents…but nobody promised that running a business or hiring staff would be easy. Keep in mind that when you tune in, you’re watching the same news and trends that your employees and job seekers are also watching. Nobody knows more than anyone else. We’re all subject to the same rises and falls in virus numbers and the same rises in falls in average market rates for various salaries (as well as the costs of services and consumer goods). So pay attention. If you’re ready to offer a position in sales, marketing, or production, don’t base your offer on last week’s average. Look at what’s happening now.

Watch the talent market, too.

An employee with a specific set of skills may have been worth 20 dollars per hour two years ago, and 40 per hour now. A smart employee will stay closely in tune with the changing market value of her skills and time, and you should too. In addition, you’ll want to keep track of fluctuating job-seeker demand for that role. Two years ago, employees may have lined up for a sweet gig like the one you’re offering, and now it’s possible the tables have turned, interest has soured a bit, and you’ll be lucky to receive a single resume. The opposite may also be true; every year, some jobs once deemed essential are replaced by apps, automation, or vanishing customer demand. Several things can influence job demand aside from salary: Is the role prestigious? Can it open career doors? Can it be done from a flexible location or on a flexible schedule? Measure what you have to offer against the value of what your applicant brings to the table, and know the monetary price of both.

Negotiate beyond salary.

In 2021, employees want to talk about salary, for sure, but that’s not all they want to talk about. The value of healthcare benefits, flexible scheduling, remote work, PTO, and childcare options have soared into the foreground. Where you could once lure and retain employees with indoor ping pong tables and pizza Fridays, now you’ll need to offer accommodations that allow talented workers to apply their skills while also balancing their lives and taking care of their physical and mental health. And even after you’ve brought them on board, you’ll need to keep checking in to make sure that whatever you offer is on par or a step ahead of what’s being held out by your competitors. Again, staying agile and attentive isn’t easy, but it’s the best way to hold onto talented and growing employees who are drawn away by other opportunities.

For more on how to dial in and make the most of the talent available to you, talk to the staffing pros at PSU.

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