Feng Shui Your Offer Letter
Feng shui is based on the premise that people take mood cues from their visual surroundings.
One of my favorite examples is the company that sought to improve employee morale by upgrading their office environment. The first thing they discovered was employees were confronted every day by a series of signs at the company’s entrance telling them what they could not do: No Cell Phones, No Deliveries, No Stopping, No Smoking, No. No. No. It seems like a small thing, but subconsciously it felt like the company was dictating their behavior.
Let’s apply feng shui principles to attracting talent. Candidates are looking for signs about your company from the minute they walk thru the door, to the people they meet, to how quickly they receive interview feedback. We know that. But one of the most often overlooked aspects of the courting process is the offer letter.
The offer letter. Do you know what yours look like? Chances are you may not even see what’s sent out to prospective employees, even though it’s one of the first things that sets the tone for your working relationship.
A good offer letter feels like the red carpet and trumpets. “Welcome!” it fairly shouts, “We feel lucky to have you.” And goes on, in simple language, to describe the terms: Your title, salary, reporting relationship, start date, benefits, etc. All the stuff that’s important to YOU.
But there’s other stuff that may need to be said, like You have to sign an NDA and agree not to steal the company’s clients, that this offer will expire in one week and is contingent on reference checks, plus any other mentions that the attorneys deem necessary to protect the company. The employment-at-will and probationary period language is especially offensive. It makes me want to scream, “But I didn’t even do anything yet!”
It has to be there, you say, and it does. The trouble occurs when this language drowns out the red carpet and trumpets. It starts to feel like a prison sentence rather than a job offer. And why does it have to sound so serious?!
Isn’t this a great opportunity to let your company culture shine through? For example, one of our client’s offer letters uses humor to describe what new employees can expect: “You’ll be part of an amazing culture that pitches together and plays softball together. (We hope you can pitch!) We’ll achieve great things and make important decisions. We’ll share and celebrate ideas and wind up better off because we’re pulling together.” Does that sound nice and collegial?
Every agency can do this. Should do this. No matter how strong-armed the legal team is. There’s a hierarchy of information that needs to be presented. Let’s figure out how it gets prioritized and communicated. We’re marketers, after all.