8 Ways to Secure Top Talent Without Offering More Salary

Cash is king. But there are more ways to sweeten the pot to land your next star technician.

8 Ways to Secure Top Talent Without Offering More Salary

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Hiring in the plumbing industry has been challenging for a long time. Even through the pandemic, many plumbing companies were looking to add employees and having a hard time finding qualified candidates that would make for a good fit.

As you start looking for the next great worker to further your company’s goals, deciding how hard you can compete for talent is important. While there are trends making candidate relationship-building easier — such as offering a more flexible work schedule for some roles — money is still a primary driver for candidates. 

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 experience and your employer brand can be a strategic differentiator from other companies looking to hire.

It’s important to remember that people don’t come to work just for money. Everyone wants to feel valued and find the work interesting and challenging. 

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 cash bonus, it will save your company money year-over-year compared to a larger starting salary. When you get into their second year of employment, having to raise salary by a percentage compounds the cost and can add much more to your operating costs than a one-time payment. Even hourly employees in lower-earning roles that are in high demand may be swayed by a cash bonus upfront. 

As you approach your budget and talent needs for the coming year, 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:

1. Offering flexibility — Whether it is the start and end time of the workday or a compressed work week — think four days at 10 hours per day, giving long weekends — these are coveted offerings. If the job allows for flexibility, 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 are: subsidies for public transit or commuting, extra uniforms paid for by the company, meal services at work, free or discounted laundry service, gym or lifestyle club memberships or discounts. 

3. Job sharing or part-time work — Many people have their own reasons for wanting to work less than full time. 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 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 and can show empathy. 

5. Offering hiring bonus/signing bonus — A bonus can help you counter another offer and be equally attractive upfront 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 upfront can make a big difference in whether they decide if they want to join your organization. Because these are one-time costs, they don’t compound like salary does.

6. Starting benefits coverage earlier — The traditional model for health care coverage has been to delay offering benefits for 90 days to get through a probation period. Offering insurance coverage immediately becomes 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. 

7. Reimbursing education costs — Another great noncompounding benefit is education subsidies. Skills change quickly and the investment in learning benefits both the employee and the company in the long term. For instance, offer to pay the costs of a technician seeking more training on tools from a manufacturer or industry certifications that improve a worker’s career path.

8. Having modern work tools — Sure, you want to have the best technology for your office workers; newer computers, GPS tracking, etc., but what about offering to pay for your employees’ mobile phones? Offering a broad range to choose from or solid reimbursement plans for employees to have the latest and greatest is a draw. 


Remember, money does reign as king. 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 and being creative with the advantages you can afford will help show candidates you care about their experience and that you understand what matters to them in a comprehensive employment package.  


Jeremy Eskenazi is a human resources trainer, author of RecruitConsult! Leadership, and founder of the consulting firm Riviera Advisors. Contact him at www.rivieraadvisors.com.  


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