RA Clark Consulting



Turn training into an employee benefit

 In this day and age, workers are eager to learn new skills that will help them advance in their careers. This means that training can be an employee benefit if you approach it correctly--a benefit that pays off for everyone. Best of all, it doesn't have to cost huge amounts of money. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

1.   Set a budget. A few hundred dollars can buy useful training. Create a budget so everyone understands the limits. Check with your accountant to see if any of your training expenses are tax deductible.

2.    Do some legwork. Give one employee the job of collecting information from community colleges and finding out what kinds of workshops and seminars are available from other organizations. Make the information available to all employees.

3.    Draft a policy. Specify the positions that qualify for training, what kind of training your organization is willing to pay for, and how long an employee needs to be on the payroll before becoming eligible.

4.    Share the skills. Reinforce the learning by making sure employees share what they've learned from classes and conferences with other employees. Written reports are one option; a presentation or mini-seminar by the employee may be another helpful possibility.

5.   Team up. Make friends with people in other businesses in your office building or community, and team up to share training costs for specific skills that will benefit both of you.

6.   Take some courses yourself. You'll learn new skills that could help you and your organization, and you'll serve as a role model for your employees.

- Adapted from "Training is a popular perk," by Jane Applegate


Volume 2, Issue 2      November, 2008


Recruiting and Retaining the Best Talent

by Marla Winitz

Recruiting and Retaining the Best Talent in a Competitive Economy Requires Planning and Flexibility. It is no surprise that rising costs of salaries and benefits are the topic of discussion among growing companies who seek to recruit and retain the best talent. Many managers are frustrated by the tightening supply of potential key employees. Larger, well-funded companies are offering employees and contract workers the highest salaries, while smaller growth-oriented companies are having to compete with the rising costs of salaries, benefits and recruiting efforts. How can the smaller employer keep abreast of these market conditions? They must carefully evaluate their salaries and benefits, offer other forms of compensation, and consider employing higher level contract workers to add value in specific areas. The smart job seekers are also aware of these conditions, so employers must be prepared before they begin recruiting.

1. Carefully evaluate the salaries and benefits your firm offers. How do they compare in the marketplace with your competitors and companies with similar demographic. Professional and trade associations conduct surveys for their specific industries. Employers can conduct their own salary and benefits survey. Even if your company can't match the salaries being offered in the largest companies, you should know where your weak spots are. Though a competitive compensation package is a powerful recruiting tool, companies can offer other perks that may be more important to a key employee. Offer other incentives in place of compensation, such as stock options, profit sharing and pay for performance cash-based incentives. Smaller employers have a chance to attract top talent from large, successful companies because the flexibility and opportunity of a smaller, growing organization is very appealing to many employees. Maintaining the interest of these key, potential employees involves the ability to articulate the company's current and future value to them. In many cases, employees are highly motivated by other types of performance based compensation such as cash incentives, commission, and stock options grants and bonuses. Aggressive prospective candidates will have a solid understanding of what other companies offer in terms of competitive salary, bonus, stock options and benefits.

2. Evaluate the position for which you are recruiting. By forcing the exercise of actually writing down the skills, experience and educational background necessary to accomplish the task at hand, you may determine several options. Is this critical position such that you must recruit someone who has done it before and will do it right the first time? Does it make more sense to hire a high level consultant or a contract person to develop the strategy, and then follow through the maintenance or implementation with a lower level, permanent employee? Or do you have the time and resources to hire a less experienced, yet bright and talented individual? It is also a good idea to evaluate the personality of a potential hire, before you begin recruiting. Many times, the elusive chemistry that is so commonly referred to in relation to hiring good people is really a function of the collection of other personalities already assembled. Work and management style, as well as a candidate's previous company experience, impact chemistry. If you are not sure after thinking through the job description, you may want to consider hiring a temporary employee and letting the job requirements evolve as the work is completed. This option affords you the time of developing the position requirements correctly, while addressing the work at hand. Many talented senior level employees are offering their services through high level temporary consulting agencies. This option gives employers an opportunity to "try out" the employee before hiring him or her. Many potential employees like this option because it gives them a chance to evaluate the chemistry of the management and the fit with their career goals. Many times employers find that the job requires different talent and experience than what they had originally specified for the position.

Regardless of the option you choose, a bad hiring decision not only costs money, but time and marketshare. Consider your options based upon solid market research and thorough consideration. Employment costs will continue to be competitive


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