The impact that salary has on attracting high quality talent is shrinking. Of course compensation remains a significant factor, but it has to share space with a litany of other intangibles, including company culture, personal fulfillment, and perhaps most importantly, company core values.
This trend is tied to the growing prominence of Millennials in the workforce, but reaches demographics across the spectrum.
“Many of our franchise partners are people who spent the first fifteen years of their careers doing the corporate thing, and who are now looking to work in a business that is values driven,” says Josh Cohen, founder and CEO of Junkluggers. “It isn’t the story everyone hears. The story is that Millennials are crazy passionate about working for a cause, but there is also a wealth of highly experienced people in the middle of their careers who are looking for something less corporate, more personally fulfilling.”
Cohen’s experience is not the exception, but increasingly is the rule. There are several major factors that are creating this trend, from automation to economics. Let’s look at a few of those trends.
1. Disillusionment with corporate culture
Corporate America has had a rocky few decades, culminating in the 2008 recession. The global economy was at risk of collapse and most fingers were pointing at the financial sector, which had been the spiritual head of American business since the 1970s. In the wake of the crisis, people began to reassess if their own professional priorities were complete, and many began to think about their careers differently.
In a very real way, America anointed a new head of corporate culture, but this time it was in Palo Alto where tech companies had been pioneering a new vision for how people should work. These companies were green, built products that empowered people, wore t-shirts instead of suits, and worked in offices that looked very different from those on Wall Street.
The ripple effect of this change is still being felt. Today, businesses across America or emulating tech startups more than hedge funds. Dress code is casual, ping pong tables are pervasive, and HR is using company values to attract talent right alongside salary.
More and more jobs are being replaced by automation. It speaks volumes that a commercial airline pilot only manually controls the plan for seven minutes of a cross country flight. While new jobs are being created by the automation wave, the transition seems to be sparking some soul searching among people in their middle careers.
“For all of the talk about new business models like the shared economy and crowd-sourced investments, there has been a quiet boom in franchised businesses,” explains Cohen. “The reason is in part due to the fact that more and more people want to work for themselves and run their own business. It’s hard not to see this influx as a response to the corporate climate of the last few years.”
Given that automation can replace the need for people to work in specific functions, people are now beginning to think bigger than functions and instead work for their own passions.
3. More cause-driven businesses
At the same time, whether as a result of, or simply benefiting from the shift, cause-driven businesses have exploded. The race to be energy neutral, recycle everything, donate to those in need, and work for some goal higher than profits has taken the business world by storm.
“As a young CEO, I was motivated to create an eco-friendly, community-oriented business,” says Cohen. “My generation of business professionals is really driven to accomplish something and for our businesses to benefit the world. I think today’s businesses are becoming less transactional and singularly focused on profits – though ironically, cause-driven businesses frequently do make more money.”
These trends are all colliding. People are moving away from corporate culture, searching for their passions in the wake of automation, and businesses are more cause-driven than ever before. It means executives who are looking to attract talent need to focus on their ‘Why’ instead of the ‘What’.