How do we stop Amazon HQ2 from taking the North-East’s top talent?

by Patrick Rees

For over a year, cities across the United States pitched for the coveted location of Amazon’s HQ2. In the last week, it was announced that the new headquarters will be split between two locations - Arlington, VA, and the Queens neighborhood of New York. Economic development officials in these areas may well be rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of the internet behemoth pitching up, but local companies may be beginning to sweat. Will key employees be casting longing glances to Virginia and New York? And if they are, how can employers make them resist the temptation?

Companies on the East coast who rely on skilled engineers, product managers, and legal and accounting staff may be thinking that their labor costs will skyrocket to stop Amazon from poaching their best staff. It makes sense, right? To retain employees you have to pay them higher salaries and boost their perks. This is one method that stops Amazon from strong-arming companies and poaching their top performers, but the reality is that should Amazon flex their financial muscle, it may just be too appealing for even the most loyal workers.


Creative Compensation - The Gift of Health

What at-risk companies need to do is be more subtle and creative with how they maintain their appeal to current employees. Yes, more money is always a bonus to any member of staff but, as mentioned, Amazon holds all the aces in the financial department. What about other financial bonuses? A car? Housing? Gadgets? All good ideas, but they are subject to hefty taxes and will increase labor costs further. Plus, Amazon can match these anyway. The answer is the gift of health.

Healthcare, or access to it, is one of the most critical factors when employees are considering a new role with a company. 60% of employees said health coverage is essential in whether to stay in their job; 95% of HR pros rate healthcare as one of the three most important benefits to employees; and 75% of employees are more likely to stay with their employer because of their health benefits plan. These are just some of the figures when it comes to employees opinions on healthcare and, clearly, it’s vital to them. There’s an opportunity for companies to leverage this desire for quality health coverage and give employees what they really want.

Unique Healthcare Options

There are unique options for employers. Once heavily publicized by Boston Mutual, executive medical reimbursement it is still readily available and allows employees to cover all of their out-of-pocket medical expenses. Imagine knowing that $10,000 or more worth of medical expenses could be covered thanks to the new benefit your employer is offering. Braces for kids, expensive prescriptions, essential medical equipment, plus a host of other items - are all covered by products like BeniComp Select and you don’t have to worry about being out-of-pocket at the end of the year as your claims are covered, tax-free.

Fighting Amazon at their own game will undoubtedly end badly for any employer. Retention of employees in a situation like this requires subtlety, guile, and an innate understanding of employees’ greatest desires. Give employees not just what they want but what they need. You might be able to stop the Amazon juggernaut.