It’s tempting to offer prospective employees lucrative employment packages when faced with a competitive market. The thinking is that in order to attract the best talent, you have to promise the world to someone who hasn’t even proven himself in that role at your organization.

This misguided recruitment approach has leaders offering all sorts of perks, from the coveted corner office with a view and keys to the executive bathroom to unlimited expense accounts and stock options.

In essence, what you are doing is putting reward before responsibility. Before that new employee has even done a single thing to benefit your organization, you are saying, “Here is everything we could possibly offer you right here, right now with no work required.” Can you see the $$$ signs in their eyes and the ‘ching, ching’ sound going off in their brain?? Who wouldn’t!

Putting reward before responsibility is the result of either a naiveté that the person is going to give you their all because you rewarded them or a fear-based position where you are worried you won’t be able to find someone with the same skill level to contribute to your organization.

I don’t care what pedigree or credentials this person comes with or whether their resume is stamped into gold leafing. All organizations and cultures are different. Until that person shows up and consistently performs beyond expectation in the role that you have offered them, demonstrating a high level of skill and values alignment, DO NOT give away the farm.

The problem is this approach creates such entitlement, such a lack of accountability and frankly, such sheer laziness in the new employee that it wasn’t even worth hiring that person in the first place. Because you rewarded them before you even put their work ethnic, their skills, or their ability to get results to the test, you have poisoned their pedigree.

It’s unlikely those new hires will pull through and do the work when the going gets tough. Instead, you will end up dragging them along and eventually, everything you thought you hired them to do will fall back on you (or another member of your team).

How to Attract and Motivate New Talent

For starters, be cautious with what you offer from the get-go. It’s okay to hold the purse strings a little bit tighter than what you think is fair in order for your new hires to prove themselves. Be upfront about it and tell them that rewards come with achievement.

Also, create and document an internal skill grade scale that details exactly how employees can move up to the next job and/or pay level. Many companies have programs that require employees demonstrate their skill achievement, and complete certain education requirements, before they can even apply to advance to the next level.

Lastly, consider creating an internship program within your organization. Identify roles that require less skill and could be considered entry-level positions in your industry. Hire a pool of potential talent and pick who you hire on a full-time, permanent basis from that group.

By adding the intermediate step of requiring new hires complete an internship before becoming a permanent addition to the team, you get to see who rises to the top and who best aligns with your corporate values. The onus is on them to show you their skills, their passion and their initiative in order to earn the reward.

The key is you have to keep people hungry for what it is that they are working for and then reward them for what they actually bring to the company, instead of what they could potentially bring. Putting reward before responsibility creates nothing but entitlement and toxicity in your corporate culture that undermines and eats your strategy for lunch.

When you find the right people, they will be willing to put in the work to show you that they have what it takes. Just don’t take advantage of their hard work or wait too long to reward them or you risk losing them to a competitor!

Need help designing and implementing an employee attraction and retention program for your organization? Give me a call to set up an initial consultation.