How to sell your company benefits over salary


You have been working at your company for several years and it’s time to expand the headcount.

The business 6 years ago was relatively small and a lot of investment has gone into building the brand, getting an established foothold into the market and winning some key projects that could really take it to the next level.

The new hires could not come at a better time. All of the infrastructure is in place, the workload for the next 5 years is secured and the cash flow is at a healthy level. Business is booming. It’s an exciting time to be joining the company as, with growth comes rewards.

You reach out to a few recruitment agencies and advertise the position. Within weeks you have a healthy short-list of candidates to interview. You decide to telephone interview as a first stage and provide an overview of the position and the salary banding you can offer. Its strange, as you call the recruiter to line up some face to face interviews and a significant number of applicants have already dropped out of the process. The main feedback is that the salary level on offer falls short of what the applicants are willing to move jobs for.

A disappointing blow. Some of the candidates seemed to be a strong fit for the position. They all said at the outset that they would be keen to work for a dynamic, growing company but nobody has seemed to follow through.

It’s impossible to change the salary on offer as it would not be in line (or fair) with what’s offered to existing employees. Also, being a smaller company, the recruitment budget will only stretch so far.

Where do we go from here?

In 10 years experience working for smaller, more innovative companies we have seen this scenario play out dozens of times. Initial promises made by candidates, saying that they are keen to change and have a greater impact on a smaller firm. Followed by them then backing out when the numbers don’t add up to what the larger, more established players have on offer. It’s a catch 22 situation.

So, what can be done? Do we lie down and accept defeat? Is it just the way the cookie crumbles? Do we have to settle for lesser experienced candidates and take a greater punt on how they will perform in 6 months time? Or do we try and put our best foot forward and nab that impressive candidate who is currently reluctant to come for a face to face meeting with you? We know which option you would choose. And rightly so.

The beauty of benefits

It’s important to remember that everyone goes home with a pay packet at the end of the month. The bills need to be paid after all. Money counts. But if the money is the only differentiator between you and other companies then you may need to think harder about how you also offer your employees value for their money.

Benefits/perks of the job stretch far and wide, from contributing towards a pension to safeguard employees in the future, to having a company car or a ‘beer fridge’ that gets opened on Friday afternoon. The trick is to read your interviewee, find out what’s important to them, and then openly state what benefits the company can offer that could be of value to them. This will begin to get you that all important buy-in and that intangible feeling that they will have of you when it comes to deciding whether to stay within their current position or grab the bull by the horns and take up the opportunity to work for you.

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch, is there?”

One of the most popular benefits we have seen that has genuinely swayed candidates that have been sitting on the fence is the following:

There have been instances where smaller companies have paid for their employees monthly commuting costs and/or picked up the bill for their lunch (usually a set £10 budget say, so no trips to the Ritz). This benefit really sets your company apart from others and rather than offering an extra couple of thousand onto the salary offered, it pretty much equates to that figure over the course of a year. This benefit also feels as though the company is more personal and nurturing of you and your needs as opposed to simply offering cold cash for your skills. Psychologically, this produces more feel-good feelings towards your company which can only be a good thing. It’s also a great differentiator from those big players.

Strangely, although a number of smaller companies we recruit for offer similar types of benefits to this, it almost remains some kind of closely guarded secret until AFTER the candidate has joined. Shout about it people. Say it loud and proud within the interview process even if you have become so accustomed to the benefit you don’t see the need to state it at the outset. It really will make all the difference.

“I just want to be able to work in my pyjamas sometimes”

Another very popular benefit with candidates in today’s marketplace, is the flexibility to work from home. Smaller companies tend to be more flexible overall with regards to how their employees manage their workloads. Use this to your advantage.

If your company offers the flexibility to work one day from home (in our experience this is usually a Friday) then again, make this known to the candidate who is interviewing for that position you are looking to fill. The feeling of mutual trust is a powerful one, and we dare say, nobody likes to be micromanaged. This benefit could be much more powerful to someone who feels as though they are chained to a desk all day and miss out on doing the smaller things with their family, such as the school run once a week.

“Work hard, play harder”

One of the most crucial perks that a small company often offers its employees is team comradery opportunities. We were not joking about the beer fridge folks, it really works. If you are a sales organisation for example where your employees are working under pressure daily, nothing quite beats the feeling of when 5pm hits on a Friday and you can all grab a free beer/coke for you non drinkers out there, from the communal kitchen.

Another example of this is regular team outings to places of common interest (asides from the pub) we have seen companies organising trips to the beach, paintballing, the theatre, skiing and so on. As a company seen to invest in the happiness and wellbeing of its staff you will in with a good chance to bag a candidate who perhaps has been offered slightly more money elsewhere but in a more conservative organisation.


Company benefits can be diverse and obviously different benefits will be more attractive to different candidates.

Make sure that your benefits package is varied and applies to a wide range of individuals and be careful to hand-pick the ones that seem the most applicable to the candidates that you are interviewing.

By screening your interviewee carefully you should be in a powerful position to put your top three perks of the job in the frame early on, leaving a positive and lasting impression on the table.

This could be the decider when it comes to them considering whether to work elsewhere for a higher salary, or work within an organisation that better meets their lifestyle needs.

What benefits do you offer your employees?

Like this post? You may want to take a look at how to pick the right recruiter