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Work From Home Pay Cuts and Managing Morale

July 29th, 2021

Should zip codes determine whether successful remote workers take a pay cut?

Companies and employees are at a crossroads. Nearly 18 months into the pandemic, return-to-office, remote, or hybrid plans are starting to solidify across the country.  Many of these organizations have been productive and successful with remote employees.  And employees, by and large, are demanding to remain at home, or at least in a hybrid environment.

In this position, several companies are considering ‘cost of living’ adjustment pay cuts for employees who decide to move to less expensive regions.  VMware was one of the first companies to announce that they would reduce pay for those employees who left the San Francisco Bay area. Recently, both Google and Facebook also announced that employees could have their pay cut based on cost of living, should they decide to move to a less expensive city.

The pandemic moved nearly a quarter of Americans out of their homes last year – by choice or by force.  Out of necessity, employees worked from home. Those who were successful and have maintained their work product effectively are demanding to work from home after proving their value to their organization.

The question is, why are many of these companies ready to cut the pay of their successful employees? Are they confident enough in their appeal as FAANG & Co., that they will easily find new employees should their current ones leave?  There is a real risk of alienating employees who have successfully balanced work and home life during one of the largest crises in their lifetime. 

Instead of paying employees what they are worth, they are effectively testing employee morale by assigning value to a zip code rather than skill. Cost of living adjustments aren’t unusual when you join an organization or move cities within a company. But these are expectations that have been set out and agreed upon from the get-go.

There is a real risk of demoralizing the very people who kept the organization going during the peak of pandemic chaos.  Additionally, many companies are opting to reduce their physical office footprint; creating savings that they would not otherwise have if their employees were at the office full time. 

While some of these large organizations may be confident in their ability to replace employees, there is a real threat to smaller companies who attempt to follow suit.

Additionally, while many low-tech workers might be willing to take a small pay cut to remain at home, the vast majority of IT professionals aren’t willing to take that cut – whether they physically change cities or not.  According to ZDNet, more than 60% of software engineers, DevOps engineers, data scientists, and product managers wouldn’t be willing to take any form of pay cut because they opt to work from home.

Companies who are not considered the number one stop for top tier engineers need to carefully consider how they change compensation structures for their remote employees. Employees are aware that reduced office footprints and in-office perks are saving their company money.  Is the cost of changing these salaries for productive & proven employees worth it? Is it worth experimenting with morale, the cost of lost employees and re-hiring for positions?

Furthermore – smaller organizations might be able to capitalize on recruiting top tier talent who decide that their big-company COLA pay cut isn’t worth it for the same work product output expected of them. If your organization is still unsure about how to address work from home plans, the Talener team can help advise you. By understanding how policy shifts like this affect your staffing and hiring processes, you can make more informed decisions.  Please reach out to our team today for more information.

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Posted in Current Events, Talener Blog

Stop Holding Out for FAANG

June 18th, 2021

You’re ready to hire a senior-level engineer. You have your list of qualifications, internships, must-have experience, and an ideal academic profile to boot.  With a salary in mind, you start recruiting for your perfect engineer coming out of a top global company with Ivy credentials. But as time passes, you don’t understand why you’re not attracting top talent to your disruptive product or service.  Maybe you bump the salary a bit, take out another job ad, or rework the current posting. And still, nothing.  You turn to a recruiter, and they tell you exactly what you don’t want to hear – stop yearning after FAANG.

But why would you stop going after the best of the best? Why would you accept a ‘second tier’ engineer when your team should be built out and run by the smartest of engineers? There are plenty of reasons, but ultimately, you’re not the right company for them. Why not?

If you aren’t actively headhunting specific FAANG employees or alum, then you’re not attracting their attention.  This is a tight labor market and candidates know that they are in high demand. Unless you are wooing them with over-market salaries, RSUs, sign on bonuses, engineering freedom & world domination (just kidding – sort of), then you are not on their radar. Your innovative and life-changing product or service is outside of their scope of vision. Unless you’re hitting the TV circuit or taking out Super Bowl commercial time, you aren’t on their radar.

So now what? Plenty of top tier engineers have had success without a degree from MIT or a Google internship. Despite what we may think, there are tens of thousands of listed companies across the globe that hire beyond FAANG.

It’s time to think outside of the box and hire the right person for the team, rather than seeking out credentials only. It’s time to hire people who believe in your product and service, who have life experience that will enrich their technical experience, and who are genuinely interested in building and innovating with your company.

Just as individuals attempt to explain or rationalize how they’ve obtained their skills or why they’ve taken one engineering path over another, companies do the same.  The idea of accepting a candidate who does not meet the strictest of criteria can be seen as a failure to attract or hire the best of the best.

This posturing means that companies are not meeting their mission critical goals. You are missing out on the opportunity to hire exceptional engineers who have taken non-linear paths to obtain their skills. In particular, the last fifteen months have been difficult for employees across the globe. Even though the demand for tech talent has surged, many great engineers still found themselves out of work at no fault of their own.

You are looking to qualify a potential employee, not disqualify them for a resume gap or a non-traditional engineering experience. Even outstanding candidates are nervous to start the interview process again because they aren’t currently working. Address the elephant in the room and move on.

The right engineer for your company has life experience, professional experience, and other skills that have been built through grit and dedication to their craft. They demonstrate growth, perseverance, and a desire to continually learn as technology develops. These people are the future of your team.

Still unsure that you can break away from the FAANG candidates? Speak to a recruiter a Talener to get an assessment of your job. Our job is to provide honest feedback about the type of candidates you will attract based on your recruitment efforts, compensation packages, etc. 

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Posted in Client News, Talener Blog

Racing Toward a Post Covid World?

May 25th, 2021

Not so fast. Many prospective employees aren’t ready to upend their lives a second time.

The COVID-19 vaccine boom is in full swing. States and cities around the country are starting to announce the end of pandemic restrictions. The upcoming summer season also means more time spent outside, which can impact the transmission rate of the virus.  However, despite what feels like a clear path out of the pandemic, many people, whose lives and working situations have changed dramatically over the past fifteen months aren’t ready to go back to their pre-pandemic lives.

While many industries, like healthcare and logistics have thrived during the pandemic, others are just beginning to open again. Companies are struggling to fill retail, hospitality, and customer-facing positions.  The promise of increased wages, time off, or other incentives don’t seem to be moving the needle on filling jobs quickly. And this wave of unfilled positions impacts beyond your local restaurant server.  Restaurants given the green light to open at full capacity are struggling to hire enough staff – making the uncapped capacity restrictions moot as they cannot serve customer demand. And this ripples outward to operations, suppliers, farmers, and even technical talent.

In Q4 of last year, most of the country hunkered down for the winter; bracing for the biggest surge in COVID-19 cases to date. The routine of virtual school, childcare, and family roles were solidified as we waited for a vaccine, better weather, and a drop in infections.  Aggressive job hunters who had been able to take advantage of the unemployment benefits and the stimulus earlier in the year applied vigorously to jobs in a market that hadn’t yet embraced the idea of a post COVID world.

As the vaccination boom continues and restrictions are loosened, businesses are ready to move forward, but many people are not willing or able to do the same. Personal and professional lives were upended a year ago. People scrambled to find solutions. Now, many aren’t eager to go back to their pre-pandemic lives.

High school and college students who do not need to work summer jobs to support their families are opting out. Parents don’t see the value in risking their children’s health, particularly as the vaccine roll out for adolescents is only starting to get underway. But even as fear of contracting the virus starts to take a back seat, the fear of instability and upending their lives again is taking its place.

On a dime, families were asked to upset their lives. Asking them to make these changes quickly (again) creates chaos in their lives again. Change is risky. Do we ask people to change their childcare arrangements without a vaccine timeline for pre-school or elementary students? Without any clear insight about the upcoming school year, is it worth starting a new job now with the prospect of quitting in a few months?  What should families do who have taken in the elderly to avoid placing them in nursing homes?

We have become accustomed to flexibility in our lives – that which was either forced upon us or has become a daily convenience. We’ve adapted to online grocery orders, working from home, running errands at off-peak times, and juggling half days of virtual and in-person schooling. This chaos became the newest version of normal.  Asking people to go back to the old normal won’t work.  

Now, employers are competing to hire and retain talent across the board.  Many companies have been successful with a remote workforce over the past year. However, as they build return-to-office plans, companies will struggle to hire and retain talent that have adopted the remote lifestyle as their new normal.  Flexible hours and working from home have afforded parents the opportunity to spend more time with their families as well as save money and time on commuting.  Unless employers are willing to be openly flexible in their job descriptions, jobs will remain unfilled and competitors will snatch up talent who are not looking to jump back into the in-office culture.

In the current market, candidates hold all of the cards. Companies are going to need to sell more than a job to candidates. They’ll need to entice new employees through benefits, incentives, clear health & safety initiatives, and long-term job stability.  Candidates are in a position to critically evaluate how organizations reacted and performed over the past year; including how they managed the crisis with their own employees.

The floodgate of job opportunities has opened, and the trickle of applicants will become a steady flow as the summer rolls in and vaccinated individuals become the norm rather than the exception.  But for those companies who have critical hiring demands now, they will need to seek out talent more aggressively and ensure they are clear about what additional perks they are offering and their intentions for remote work and return-to-office plans.

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Posted in Talener Blog

Tech Hiring Trends: Moving Through 2021

May 18th, 2021

The first quarter of 2021 slowly increased the job opportunities in technology-based positions. The sluggish January start gave way to entire industries opening back up as we left Q1. And they’re ready to hire. The Talener team has followed this ramp up period over the past several months and early trends have appeared as more clients are ready, willing, and able to beef up their tech teams.

High Touch & Open to Conversations

Over 57% of Talener’s job placements in Q1 started with individual conversations. This is a candidate’s market; high touch interactions and personalized service are expected.  Successful placements hinge on building meaningful relationships. Technology candidates know and understand that they are in high demand. Expecting top tech talent to fall into your lap through active job postings will cost your organization time and reduce your ability to meet mission critical needs.

Location, Location, Location

Most employees who have successfully worked from home continue to seek out remote or hybrid-remote positions. They do not want to be tied to a location or an in-office job five days a week. The amount of open technology jobs exceeds the technology talent pool.  Companies will need to be clear about their path forward in regards to working arrangements and remote flexibility. Companies that are not explicit in their intentions or dismiss the overwhelming desire by candidates for remote flexibility will find themselves without the talent they desire.

Disposable Income

In the spring of 2020, kayaks, home improvement materials, and bicycles flew off shelves as many companies had not yet laid off workers. Disposable income was funneled into stocking up on food, toilet paper, and cleaning supplies.  Major eCommerce brands like Amazon & Target thrived in being the providers of essential consumables. Now, as we envision the reality of a post-pandemic world, other industries are back to claim their share of disposable income.  We will see gaming and gambling platforms hiring aggressively; betting on increased disposable income as we move through 2021.

Healthcare & Health Tech

The demand for health care professionals and technologists has not waned over the past year. Healthcare providers are still struggling to build & secure online portals and create telehealth platforms quickly.  Health Tech companies are equally strapped for talent; tapped by major hospital systems and local governments to provide software and services. Even as the number of vaccinated individuals goes up, these companies will continue to need talent as we embark on the next phase of building healthcare systems that can respond to the next public health crisis.

Front End & Design Talent

Front end developers and designers were in high demand exiting the first quarter.  Brick and mortar restaurants and retailers continue to build their businesses online after scrambling to stay afloat in 2020. Mobile food ordering and retail curbside pick-up skyrocketed in 2020. Even as restaurant and retail capacity restrictions are lifted, the online ordering trend doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Web development and marketing companies are hiring permanent and contract staff to meet the demand of small and medium businesses without their own in-house tech staff.

The second quarter of 2021 will solidify the direction in which open technology jobs are heading for the remainder of the year.  Coupling the arrival of the summer and the mass vaccination effort, companies are more optimistic that they can hire again with confidence. We expect to see the competition for technology talent to heat up; forcing employers to get more creative and aggressive with their compensation packages.

To learn more about tech market staffing trends, reach out to our team.  We can help guide you in building your job descriptions and compensation packages to attract qualified and available talent.

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Posted in Career Tips, Talener Blog

Summer Hiring and Post-Pandemic Vacation Surge

May 11th, 2021

Americans are not known for taking their allotted vacation time through their employers. According to the Washington Post, “Even when Americans get paid time off, they don’t use it all. And when they do use their days – it may not come as a surprise to learn – many of them fail to leave work fully behind.” According to Allianz, nearly three quarters of Americans take micro-vacations, amounting to less than 4 days away, often including weekends.

But as we move into the summer of 2021, hotel bookings, private rentals, and planned time off is surging.  TripAdvisor is anticipating more than 67% of households taking an extended vacation during the summer months, a surge that is leaving many employers scrambling as many people have not had any leisure time off in nearly fifteen months. 

The increased need for qualified technical talent complicates the interviewing process, training, and successful hiring of new employees this summer. For the first time in many years, vacation-goers are indicating that they will finally cut the cord during their time off and recharge without a direct line to the office.

How are companies coping with current hiring managers and TA decision makers who are slated to take back-to-back time off for the next three months? Organizations have gotten creative with their current employees – limiting the amount of vacation days that can be taken between Memorial Day & Labor Day, closing down operations to force paid time off, or offering incentives to use vacation time after the summer rush.

But this doesn’t address the pile-on of PTO usage when organizations are in dire need of help, particularly in areas like technology.  Only 16% of tech jobs were filled in March – leaving over 300,000 open, according to CompTIA

Companies need to take action now to ensure they’re not facing a double staffing shortage; back-to-back time off of their current staff, and the missed opportunity to have new employees onboarded and up-to-speed in Q3. Additionally, some flexibility will be required as new employees likely have their own vacations booked prior to joining a company. Beyond global PTO policy changes, clear communication and direction amongst individual teams will be critical in successfully making new hires.

Preparation

Prepare your staff by defining every person’s role in the upcoming hiring process.  What is expected of them, and when? If they will be on vacation, set boundaries and choose potential alternative interviewers who can fill in. 

Get Buy In

Leaving your team in the dark about hiring goals means that no expectations have been set or preparations made. It’s difficult to get buy-in when you’ve left them out of the loop.  Prepared staff are more likely to take an hour out of their vacation time if they are anticipating it.

Empathize & Validate

We’re all exhausted. It’s been 15 months of uncertainty and we all need a break, whether it’s on a beach in Mexico or building a deck in the backyard. Time off is valid; no matter how employees spend it.

Set Timelines

In addition to preparing your own employees and getting buy-in from them, it is valuable for your team or TA to know general hiring timelines. Setting up a framework of timelines sets expectations and provides more clarity into how they play a role in the upcoming weeks or months.

Create a Process

When preparation doesn’t account for unexpected projects or shifts in organizational goals, create a process that delegates responsibility. Consequently, If you are hiring a new team member or if a team member leaves and needs to be replaced quickly, everyone understands their role in the interviewing, hiring and onboarding process.

If you are faced with staff turnover, a surge in PTO requests and are understaffed this summer, consider bringing in consultants who can hit the ground running and relieve the immediate burden that your tech teams may be facing.  If you have questions about the process of hiring a consultant, reach out to the Talener team for more information.

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Posted in Career Tips, Talener Blog

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