In the business world, companies often use material offerings – things like pay, flexible work options, office space, equipment, and other perks – to attract and keep employees. These offerings are easy to understand, quick to give out, and usually well-received by employees. Especially during The Great Resignation, when many people are changing jobs, these benefits seem like a great way for businesses to stand out. But Mortensen and Edmondson, in their Harvard Business Review article, suggest that while these offerings are important, relying too much on them can lead to problems (Mortensen & Edmondson, 2023).

First, let’s look at why material offerings can be helpful. They address immediate needs and desires of employees. In a time when flexible work and good pay are in high demand, these offerings can be powerful tools for attracting new talent.

However, focusing too much on material offerings can turn into a trap. Here’s why: these offerings can be copied easily by other companies, so they don’t offer a unique advantage for a long time. And while employees might be happy to receive them at first, their excitement can fade quickly. As a result, businesses can find themselves stuck in a never-ending race, constantly trying to offer more and more to keep their employees happy.

Mortensen and Edmondson argue that material offerings have the smallest long-term impact on keeping employees satisfied and loyal to the company (Mortensen & Edmondson, 2023). So, companies that focus mostly on these offerings might be missing a big part of the picture.

Other things, like opportunities for growth, a sense of community at work, and work that feels meaningful and purposeful, are also crucial for employees. These factors can create a deeper, more lasting bond between employees and the company, and they can’t be easily copied by other companies.

In conclusion, while material offerings are a necessary part of attracting and keeping employees, they shouldn’t be the only thing companies focus on. They can be a trap if companies rely on them too much. To really engage and retain employees, companies should look at the whole picture, which includes other factors like growth opportunities, community, and purpose.

Reference: Mortensen, M., & Edmondson, A.C. (2023). Rethink Your Employee Value Proposition: Offer your people more than just flexibility. Harvard Business Review.

About the Author

Trish Valenzuela joined Continental Search in 2015 and was initially tasked with supporting the dairy recruitment team. A year later, she spearheaded the poultry recruitment team.

Trish is a NAPS Certified Personnel Consultant and leads all the research and recruiting for poultry and swine. Trish recruits sales and technical professionals in this industry. She takes the time to listen and ask decision-makers what they’re really looking for in a candidate.

 For the latest job opportunities, you may connect with Trish on LinkedIn or email him at