Hiring and negotiation from a user experience perspective

In Business by LauraLeave a Comment

A theory.

Consider employment from the perspective of investment instead of the necessity of a job. The mental shift is severe. The change in point of view shines a user experience light on the heavy flaws of traditional hiring and negotiation among new generations of employees.

The resources for investing in a business are finite. Many are not financially prepared to fund a business with cash, however most have at least one of two additional critical resources that all businesses require: time or intelligence. Both, like cash, are also finite and depending on the savvy and technical skillsets that come with them – each can be ultra-valuable.

Committing to an investment of funds, time or intelligence in a business is much like placing a bet. Where – in which business – that bet is placed determines the odds of success and the potential payout. Success and payout, in this sense, can also be measured in funds, time and intelligence. Depending on the personal values of the investor, any amount of any of these elements gained can constitute value added through expansion of resources or enhancement of the portfolio. Typically, it’s fair to assume that the expense of one or two sets an expectation in the rise in the remainder to be deemed a worthwhile investment. For example:

If ____ are invested…




Funds and time

Funds and intelligence

Time and Intelligence

…then ____ rise.

Time or intelligence

Funds or intelligence

Funds or time




In an age where our youngest generations are opportunistic, creative and nimble – businesses must consider if not also act on employment by these terms. More than ever before, employees weigh the opportunity costs of their investments in a company. For much of the general population, the assumption is made that by investing time and intelligence in a company, their personal funds will rise.

Their target, then, becomes the opportunity to invest those funds in another outlet that garners time or intelligence from an alternative passion. The dedication to their primary investment – the business – is a means to an end. This is the fundamental nature of “work to live, live to work” and modern-day employees rarely stand by it.

The de-valuing of time and intelligence is an ages old business practice designed to ensure employers get top time per dollar and intelligence per dollar out of their own investments. The flaw in the mentality that arrives here is that no one wants to haggle about their own worth. The minute the employer undervalues the employee with bottom-dollar negotiation, the relationship between the two and the perception of value between them is scarred and rarely repairable.

Do you truly want your employees to believe they are not of value to your organization? Is it worth positioning your leaders as disconnected and manipulative? Do you want to be the company that takes advantage of its people? Are you proud to diminish the confidence of your newest employees? Or squash the excitement and initiative with which they parade into your organization? Negotiation hurts far more than it helps.

The employee will not be fulfilled by simply performing its duties. As is human nature, it will reclaim that lost value through lack of effort – balancing the scale of the investment by removing its own commitment. A lesser compensation negotiated by the employer means lesser time and intelligence dedicated by the employee.

Take the concept a step further. Consider investments of time, intelligence and even limited funds into another business.

If the employee noted before invested its time and intelligence into the ownership of a sole proprietorship, what would be his or her return on that investment? How quickly would it derive the level of funds desired to accommodate the alternative passion? Could the alternative passion be incorporated into the business? The questions are not entirely hypothetical. The investment in this scenario allows the now-business owner to wholly invest funds, time and intelligence into a passion versus having to work to live or live to work – the underlying theme of the Millennial workforce.

Millennial workers have, in fact, risen to adulthood while watching the rest of us labor through an economic crash – all the while, absorbing an intuition for how to avoid the hurdles we’ve faced. Ev-o-lu-tion. Like the previous generation, they’ve looked at the technology available, then built success on the coattails of those that came before them. To move the needle even further – many have evolved the tech available entirely – preparing the game board for the next generation as well.

The bet that many Millennials (and those mimicking their triumphs) choose to place in this investment is that more success – whether valued in time, intelligence or finance – can be achieved in an investment in self versus an investment in another business in which one is offered the bottom-dollar.

I should include here that, as a marketing pro, I fully expect this economy of selfie-driven social famous vlog-a-preneur coaches – while currently a profitable machine – is guaranteed to collapse the minute we find a new trend to drive our obsessions. I’m not saying that everyone will find success in quitting their jobs to start a traveling watercolor self-care fitness guruship – but, many have. Those that are unprepared to adapt to the evolving trend tide will struggle hard when this day comes – significantly changing the anticipated lifetime value of the self-investment career path. If you’re going this route, maybe consider diversifying the investment a bit for when the private production of low-budget content takes a massive hit. Until then, you do you, baes.

We’ve all experienced an employment negotiation in the most traditional sense. How does that scenario change when you consider the opportunity costs from the perspective of the candidate?

The candidates leverage is not gained from the competition of another offer, but – instead – from the potential of their investment in another outlet. Suddenly, the employer must not only consider the skill sets and qualifications that check literal and metaphorical boxes, but must also examine the potential of those elements paired with time and intelligence applied to the business. In that process, every hire must answer to the investment of funds – what time or intelligence is gained? To balance that, the new employee must be able to answer the alternative – what funds are gained? On either side of that fence – is it worth it?

The perception of a fair agreement begins in the negotiation – or lack thereof. If a business requires or desires the time and intelligence of a person, should that not be treated the same as a request for the investment of funds? Businesses acquiring funds clearly outline the value exchange for those funds and, in many cases, take it or leave it. However the same clarity is rarely offered for an exchange of time or intelligence. Contractors manage to circumvent this a bit – but negotiation is still considered strangely commonplace there as well.

In reality, the most basic of fixes in this value exchange is to understand that the number presented by a candidate is the actual perceived value of the time and intelligence they provide weighed against the opportunity costs of their personal scenario. If accepted as such – the business receives the full value of the time and intelligence balancing their investment. A significant improvement from the undermined, under-appreciated employee noted before. As such – both perceive that they’re getting the best return on what they’re investing into the bet.

If a business doesn’t perceive the same value as presented by the candidate, negotiation should not be the first instinct. Instead, explanation of and clarity in the value exchange should be achieved. Negotiation, then, should never be pointed at bottom dollar but should, instead, aim to achieve an agreement on the exchange of values in funds, time and intelligence.

Only at that mark can companies truly begin to show appreciation for the critical time and intelligence that advances the business alongside the funds of their investors – aligning the user experience with the company values.