Friday, August 24, 2007

You Get What You Pay For

If you are a manager at the company you work for you know the difficulties that come with trying to manage a group of people. If you work for a company that is salary stingy it makes things even more interesting in that it is difficult to find and hire good people.

Recently there has been some good and bad news in the department I manage as a couple of my people have been promoted (see I actually care about my employees and try to help them succeed). That’s the good news! The bad news is that I have to find people to replace them. The reason its bad news is that my company, based on salary comparisons I’ve done, traditionally pays people about 30% less than these positions warrant. In addition to having to pass the poor salary hurdle, I also have an inept HR department that sends me people that are in no way qualified for the positions or have questionable backgrounds. As if those two things weren’t enough I also have to overcome a poor company image. To further this point, here are some classics from recent applications and interviews I’ve conducted that prove my point that you get what you pay for:

  • HR forwards an application for a gentleman with the comment “this person has nice experience”. I look through the application and find he has a felony listed for assault and was fired from his last position. Not only was this application littered with red flags, he in no way had the qualifications for the position.
  • I receive a resume for a candidate that has the experience and qualifications I was looking for. I conducted a phone interview and live interview and based on the results thought the candidate would be a perfect fit. The candidate had listed a salary requirement that was slightly more than what we usually start this position at. I submit the resume to HR and inform my boss of this great candidate and the slightly higher salary requirements. I ask HR if we could be creative as I really wanted to hire this person. A day later I receive an email that they (HR) offered the candidate no more than what they usually offer and the candidate declined. Stingy, stingy, stingy!
  • I received an application from a candidate that falls in the range we are willing to pay. Hallelujah!!! The application has several gaps in employment. I call the candidate and ask them about the gaps. The response “I just didn’t want work” during the first gap and “I was fired for a disagreement with my boss” for the second gap. What a gem. I had a few others applications with employment gaps and didn’t feel like putting myself through more agony in calling these folks.
  • A recent candidate that I had an interview with arrived at my company and like all visitors waited in the lobby for me to come out to get them. The word is out that my company is not a good company to work for as this candidate asked our receptionist if what he’s heard about my company is true. The receptionist asked “what is it that you hear”. The candidates response “that the pay is low, the benefits are bad, and that the people aren’t treated very well.” The receptionist honestly replied to my candidate…”well, the pay is low, the benefits are bad, but your boss is a great person to work for.” The guy walked out. Now I was mad at the receptionist at first, but the reality is that he probably wouldn’t have taken the job anyway because of the salary.

Now I’m sure you’ve read in different books or articles that salary is not the most important thing to most people…this is complete bull. I do believe that people want a rewarding job doing something they enjoy to do, but unfortunately most people don’t live in straw huts living off the land. It’s takes money to live and with prices for everything constantly going up, most workers do really care about making a good wage. If you have a home, car payments, student loans, or children, you know that what you make is extremely important in providing stability to you and your family. The quality of candidates you are able to get absolutely does relate to the amount you are willing to pay. If your company however is salary stingy you have one strike against you. If your company also has a bad reputation you even further screwed. No matter how good you are as a manager, you simply cannot make up for overall inadequacies of the company you work for. If paying employees appropriately is one of those inadequacies, you will unfortunately be stuck getting the best of the worst. You get what you pay for and if you pay poorly you are more than likely to get lesser quality employees.


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