Entrepreneurship · Strategy

How can social entrepreneurs attract talent when there aren’t high salaries and options?

Andrew Loader Andrew Loader is a Content Marketer and Freelance Writer

October 26th, 2016

Talent search for social entrepreneurs can be a problem. That is, if they are at all trying to attract talents. I believe that social startup employees and founders are specific people. They are by their nature volunteers and fighters for a higher cause. They know that they have to make a living out of something but salary or to work for a high profile company is not primary to them.

Do you share my opinion on this, or am I wrong? Is there someone who can write a word or two from their personal experience?
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Dragos Gavrilescu Insights Ideas Results

October 26th, 2016

Hi Andrew. I only partially agree. I see no reason for someone who is an excellent professional to be underpaid just because there is a social mission (instead of a financial one) driving the business he is in. Being paid less just because you are in a social enterprise or an NGO is a cancer of these fields. A prejudice and a wrong mindset. I ran a social enterprise and brought top people from for-profit companies and paid them competitively. In fact, you have the chance to attract the best talent just by paying compeititively because a for-profit will never match your bottom line. Hence, my advice to all social entrepreneurs is to design and develop their business model with a for-profit mindset in order to pay salaries in that market range. Settling for less means you settle for the poorer performers, or sloppy people who have an excuse to not put in their best. I don't agree at all to such approach. Bring the best people and you will do magic, bring people with the mindset "ok to less pay because of the social cause" and you will see mediocrity flourish. I have 13 years in the social sector 5 of those running a $1 mil social enterprise. Which I built with the best. Do not fall into the trap of thinking less pay is ok in return for the social cause "benefit". There is not such equation. A person's worth in this world as much as we'd like to avoid that thinking is the pay check. Do not be fooled by your so-called "social mission" benefit. That's an excuse for settling for less. If you want to build a great SE settle for the best. Nothing less.  

Craig Merry CEO/Founder of Beacon Safety Co. and Operations Coordinator at Purple Communications, Inc.

October 26th, 2016

Not wrong at all. At the end of the day commitment is drawn by the options on the table. And that's ok, eventually you'll have an amazing team of dedicated individuals towards your cause. Try internships.

Scott McGregor Advisor, co-founder, consultant and part time executive to Tech Start-ups. Based in Silicon Valley.

October 26th, 2016

It is funny to me that everyone asks this question about how they can recruit top talent when they don't have the advantages of the some other kind of company.   
  • Non profit companies ask how can we compete against for profit companies who can offer equity?
  • For profit companies ask how can we compete against non-profits who can say that they are "saving the world"?
  • Pre IPO companies ask how can we compete against public companies that offer higher salaries, stock options with liquidity?
  • Public companies ask how can we compete against start-ups that can offer stock that may double or quadruple ior more n value in just a year or two?
  • Urban companies ask how can we compete against companies in small towns and suburbs where housing prices are lower, schools are good, and streets are safe for raising children?
  • Small town companies ask how can we compete against urban companies in cities with a vibrant night life, fine dining and cultural attractions like museums, pro sports, and symphonies?
Guess what?   You can't!  You can't compete against companies who are fundamentally making opposite choice from you.  You can only compete for talent with companies that are similar to you in the ways that matter to the applicant.  

This is because people make choices about what kinds of lives they want,  and those choices drive decisions, not the other way around.   I prefer chocolate ice cream to vanilla.   If tell me I can have twice as much vanilla, I still choose the chocolate.  If you tell me that I can get the vanilla for half the price, I still choose chocolate.   Tell me the the vanilla is 50% less fat or 50% fewer carbs, I don't care, I still choose chocolate.  Tell me that vanilla is healthier, or that cocoa farmers get paid less than vanilla farmers, is still don't care.  This is not about being rational and making a decision this is about just honoring to my irrational preferences. 

Your applicants are no different.  If the attractions of a big back yard, safe streets and good schools are what I prefer, a company wanting me to work in an inner city location is not going to win me over by talking about the symphony and opera.  If I need hard cash now just to meet my mortgage the possible value of future options won't make a lower salary or riskier company acceptable to me.

No, if you are having a hard time getting candidates you need to compete better with companies that are like you!  How do you do that? Typically that comes down to two things: 
  1. Did you hire the managers and team members that people would PREFER to spend all day with compared to your true competitors? 
  2. And do people are you company see how their work matters to the organization more than your competitors.   
If you are doing more poorly on these criteria than other companies like you, you are likely to be continually short handed in a hot market, as you competitors successfully poach your people based on being places people would rather work.

 

Amos Addae Sales and Marketing Professional and Customer Service Agent

October 26th, 2016

Its important that you get people who are equally passionate and see the bigger picture like yourself. At times you can locate individuals that may share in your vision by searching for post on LinkedIn, Founder Dating and other professional platforms where people express their opinions about issues related to startup idea. You can advertise it or even post it on LinkedIn and I think people interested may contact you. Personally, I've searched for a platform to join startups that share my passion but have located one yet. Hope this helps. FD:Discuss New Discussion on How can social entrepreneurs attract talent when there aren’t high salaries and options? [image: Andrew Loader] Started by Andrew Loader Content Writer and SEO Specialist, Code Orange. Talent search for social entrepreneurs can be a problem. That is, if they are at all trying to attract talents. I believe that social startup employees and founders are specific people. They are by their nature volunteers and fighters for a higher cause. They know that they have to make a living out of something but salary or to work for a high profile company is not primary to them. Do you share my opinion on this, or am I wrong? Is there someone who can write a word or two from their personal experience? [image: social sharing] ------------------------------ FOLLOW DISCUSSION or Reply Directly to this email to participate in the discussion Manage your email notifications

Denise Corcoran CEO, Leadership & Organizational Game-Changer | CEO Advisor | Consultant | Coach | Growing Leaders that Grow Companies

October 26th, 2016

Hi Andrew,

I appreciate the question.  I also completely agree with Dragos that your mindset/belief that you can't get great talent is the first thing for you to shift your thinking around.

If I were in your shoes, I would first define for a given role, what does A talent look like in that role?  what are the qualities, character traits, values and experience/expertise for that role?

Then post that position with your requirements/desires wherever you can both in formal and informal networks.  Great start is LI jobs section and Glassdoor.com.

I specialize in employee motivation and I can tell you that salary/compensation is what is considered a "hygiene" factor.  If not present, it can be a demotivator.  Compensation by itself will rarely be the primary motivator.  For a small minority it may be but that is rare.

There are other ways of being "competitive" around compensation other than base salary.  You may need to think outside the box for this -- bonuses, benefits, rewards, etc.

A *fair* compensation (not necessarily competitive) is in the eyes of the beholder.  Let candidates decide if what you offer is fair for the opportunity.  Also I would be selling all the other extrinsic and  intrinsic intangible benefits your organization offers.

Shel Horowitz I help organizations thrive by building social transformation into your products, your services, and your marketing

October 27th, 2016

There's always the option of equity stakes or other non-cash incentives. But as noted above, this doesn't have to be either-or. Profitability and properly designed social entrepreneurship go hand-in-hand. You might find my TED talk useful, as it talks about this very thing:
"Impossible is a Dare: Business for a Better World"
(click on "event videos")