Businesses are understandably trying to distance themselves from much-maligned traditional workplace stereotypes: endless grey cubicle purgatories, incompetent management, soul-sucking monotonous work. They’re increasingly turning to unconventional office layouts, relaxing or fun activities, and handouts as ways to keep their staff happy and bring in new employees. Ad agencies and startups in particular have become somewhat notorious for this trend, especially as a way to court high-performing professionals of the Millennial generation that seems to perpetually elude business leaders. The intentions behind these innovative office features are good–but they often backfire when leaders fail to address the fundamental problems of the organization and the reality of what attracts top marketers.
From bowling alleys to sleeping pods to free massages and more, organizations are experimenting with new ways to bring in the best marketers. But while these offerings can be an eye-catching brand differentiation, we know from experience as strategic marketing recruiters that they are no guarantee of high-performing talent. Business leaders relying on gimmicks like these to sell their organization to difference-making marketing professionals are setting themselves up for disappointment.
Building the Right Culture When Staffing for Marketing
There’s nothing wrong with spicing up your workplace a little to reflect a desired culture and image. In fact, it’s important to invest into a comfortable, creative and innovative workplace that top professionals will thrive in. Strategic use of these office amenities can earn employee favor, foster creativity, build a brand and encourage team engagement and unity. Some innovative businesses like Google have found ways to effectively blend a little fun, engagement, and reward into their workplace to improve retention and productivity.
But too many organizations are just putting lipstick on a pig. A productive workplace culture that engages employees and serves as a talent magnet doesn’t happen overnight, and certainly can’t be bought for the price of a foosball set. If you currently have or are considering adding a pool table or beer tap to your office, take care to ensure that you’re using them as a way to augment an already strong culture and employment offering–not as a false substitute for meaningful, substantial hiring strategy and a strong vision for your office culture.
What the Best Marketers Really Want
Think about it; would you really want to hire someone who chose to work with you because you have bean bag chairs in your lobby? Of course not; you want the best of the best in your staffing for marketing. Smart, successful marketers will see right through any flashy office gimmicks that only serve to veil institutional problems like unpleasant work environments, unfair compensation, or out of touch management.
Want to attract difference-making marketers at all levels? Marketing has changed dramatically, but the makeup of a talented ROI driver has endured. You don’t need new tricks like video games in the break room or a fancy espresso machine (though offering like this can be useful for getting attention and standing out from other employers). Before the bells and whistles, ambitious marketers today want more or less what they wanted 20 years ago:
- The ability to grow: Top marketers relentlessly search for opportunities to expand their talent and meaningfully advance their career. The best want to know that there is a real likelihood of other positions with even more responsibility and challenge in the foreseeable future. If your business is stagnant and they won’t have an opportunity to make an impact, no amount of trendy craft beers in the fridge will catch their interest.
- Interesting and compelling new challenges: Dynamic marketing talent seeks out unique, interesting problems to tackle and overcome. These are people that actively hunt new challenges to conquer and puzzles to solve. They want the opportunity to try new things and get their hands dirty working on innovative, cutting edge projects. If there’s no challenge, then as far as they’re concerned there’s no job!
- Greater authority and responsibility: The talent you want is the talent who is confident in the abilities, excited to take on the burden of responsibility for their success. High-intensity, motivated individuals make good use of their authority and thrive under pressure.
- Competitive compensation: We’ve found time and again as strategic marketing recruiters that the best marketers are not motivated primarily by money–but that doesn’t mean they’re walking charities, either. Great marketers want reasonable compensation; and more than ever, they’re empowered to know exactly how valuable they are to a business and negotiate favorable terms. If you haven’t checked out the going rate for high-performing marketing talent for a few years, it’s likely your concept of modern salaries is critically out of date. And remember: average salaries will attract average talent.
The things that most draw the attention of great marketers are simple; though actually putting your organization in a position to provide them is not. And of course, recruiting talented marketers is a challenge regardless because they tend to be consistently employed and very busy–so they’re not likely to just stumble across your vacant job. But being able to provide these benefits and market them effectively as part of your employer brand will put you in a much better position to find the talent you’ve been seeking at all levels.