The Case for Unlimited PTO by Matthew Cohen

October 25, 2017

By Matthew Cohen, Practice Leader - Energy & Sustainability and HVAC/R

As a recruiter, I routinely manage the expectations candidates during the offer stage of their interview process. Recently, the most negotiated piece of the offers I see besides salary is paid vacation time.  For decades, the standard for vacation time in most industries was a small amount of PTO accrued over time and the additional PTO was tied to the amount of years someone was employed.  We are seeing a fundamental shift in the importance of PTO.  The advances in our understanding of mental and physical health has caused candidates to value PTO as a key factor in their decision-making process when deciding on a career change.  This shift begs the question: why not have unlimited PTO for your employees?  Below are three reasons unlimited PTO should be considered:

  1. Healthier, Happier Employees: There are a multitude of studies that show the negative effects sitting in an office can do someone both mentally and physically. Having unlimited PTO can give an employee an opportunity to decompress and recharge whenever they feel the need.  Employees who come to work with a positive attitude more often can create a better work environment and decrease stress and employee burnout which will in turn, increase employee retention.
  2. More productivity: It sounds odd, but there is a case to be made that the more PTO employees are given, the greater their productivity. If employees can come to work with less mental or physical stress, they are more likely to produce results at a higher rate. If employees are counting the months until their next few days of PTO, that distraction can limit their productivity.  In addition, having unlimited PTO can create a greater relationship between employees and employers which also can lead to an increase in productivity.
  3. Greater Accountability: One of the biproducts of allowing unlimited PTO is greater accountability between employers and employers. Employees are more likely to be more transparent and honest about their work if they have the freedom to take PTO when they need to.  Those who abuse unlimited PTO and who are not productive when back at work, can be dealt with swiftly with a shared understanding that unlimited PTO means more accountability when at work.

While not all industries and jobs can support unlimited PTO, the importance of vacation is growing at a rate where we all need to understand and take notice.  We are seeing unlimited PTO polices work in many industries and we see this as a continued trend in the future.  Next time you hear someone say, “I need a vacation” you might just want to give it to them.

Contact Matthew:
Matthew's LinkedIn

Deposits and Withdraws

How to give as much as receive when interviewing passive candidates

By Matthew Cohen, Practice Leader of Energy & Sustainability and HVAC/R

May 3, 2017

When interviewing a candidate for a job, the goal is discovering as much information as possible in order to decide if the person we are interviewing is the right fit for the position.  However, when interviewing passive candidates, i.e. those candidates who are currently working and are possibly being recruited, we often forget that the candidate is looking for information to decide if the position and the organization is right for them.  I regularly debrief candidates after interviews who tell me they left the interviews without knowing the full scope of the position or important information on the company even when they asked specific questions directly.

When interviewing a passive candidate, it is vital that we provide or “deposit” as much information as we “withdraw” from the candidate to keep the candidate engaged and provide them information for them to make a decision that is best for them.  Below are areas hiring managers can deposit important information that will engage passive candidates:

  1. Company Benefits- With the ever-changing landscape in employer based healthcare, it is crucial that candidates understand the company’s benefits to know what it will cost them per month. In some cases, we see a 5-10K difference in out of pocket healthcare costs which can affect what salary a candidate will accept.  Healthcare providers in network, dental, and vison coverage are also important information.  If possible, I recommend the hiring manager shares this information before any final interview so that the candidate can ask any clarifying questions. Vacation, 401k and any other company benefits are also advantageous to share prior to an offer made to a candidate.
  2. Compensation Structures- While a base salary may be tough to share prior to an offer being made, other aspects of compensation are vital information so that the candidate can understand how they will be paid. Passive candidates should understand how compensation that may include commissions, quarterly, or year bonuses are calculated and paid out so they can ascertain what salary they will ultimately accept.
  3. Company Achievements- When interviewing candidates, we always look to understand their achievements and metrics that show they have a proven track record of success. It should be no different for the company they are interviewing with.  Company growth, awards, recent successes and upcoming projects or growth are valuable pieces of information to deposit when interviewing passive candidates.

We understand there needs to be a balance between what we withdraw and deposit when interviewing passive candidates.  Those hiring managers that pay attention to this balance we find have the most success landing the best talent.

Candidate Emotions to Consider when Making a Hire

July 13, 2016

By Matthew Cohen, Energy & Sustainability Practice Leader

When a hiring manager makes an offer to a candidate, they think about a number of factors such as salary, benefits, start date, counteroffers and a multitude of statistical information to put an offer together for a prospective employee.  In many cases, hiring managers get lost in the numbers when making an offer to a candidate and don’t focus on the emotional side of a job change. Most of us think of a candidate making a job change as simply changing a line item on their resume when in reality any time a candidate makes a job change they are also making a significant life change as well.  This life change brings with it a number of emotions and thoughts to consider when hiring a new employee.

Below are three emotional changes that hiring managers need to consider before making an offer to a candidate:

  1. Relationship with their current employer- It is important to understand their emotional connection with their current company and boss when making an offer to a candidate. Does the candidate have a personal relationship outside of work with their boss or fellow employees? This can be a key factor when a company makes a counteroffer to a candidate.  Often times, the counteroffer can be purely emotional which can be difficult to overcome.
  1. Candidate’s family thoughts- When making a life changing decision, we often look to our families and/or spouses for support and guidance. Asking a candidate what their family thinks about their decision to make a job change is crucial, especially if they respond by saying they have not told their family yet.  This can be a red flag and it should be encouraged to ask a candidate to tell their family of their decision, they may not always be on board.
  1. Revisiting the “Why”- Understanding why a candidate is making a job change is crucial when making an offer to said candidate.  We have established that making a job change is an emotional decision, therefore it is important to understand and underscore what has caused that person to make a change beyond just dollars and cents.  This can help in a counteroffer situation when you can revisit the emotions of why they were interviewing in the first place.

So while candidates express that changing jobs is exciting and challenging all at the same time, it can also be right up there with life’s highest stress factors such as moving, the birth of a child, new marriage, divorce, etc. Understanding the emotions your new hire is going through and helping them make a successful transition will pay off in spades.

Employment Opportunities In The Energy & Sustainability Industry

Matthew Cohen

February 17, 2016

Matthew Cohen, Energy & Sustainability Practice Leader was interviewed by Bob Hetherington, Editor with

What are the most significant hiring challenges facing organizations in the Energy & Sustainability space?

The most significant challenge facing organizations today is the struggle to attract passive candidates who are not actively looking for new opportunities.  To organizations, passive candidates are desirable. They are currently doing their job at peak performance and already exhibit the specific characteristics and skills employers crave. However, even with the improvement of the economy, passive candidates who do not have a compelling reason to change jobs are less likely to be open to new opportunities.

What can organizations in the Energy & Sustainability space do to attract passive candidates who are not actively looking for new positions?

The best way for organizations in the Energy & Sustainability to attract passive candidates is to consistently take a proactive approach.  It is important to constantly be aware of talent in the industry and develop a pipeline even when they are not currently available.  Those organizations that take a relationship first approach with passive candidates, the smoother transition they have, when and if, a prospective candidate is interested in new opportunities.

What are the most significant attributes that companies in the Energy & Sustainability Industry look for when acquiring new talent?

The most significant attributes that companies in the Energy & Sustainability Industry look for when acquiring new talent is the ability to not only be technically proficient, but have the communication skills necessary to explain or even sell their technical knowledge to their customer base.  It is important for companies not only be able to explain what a return on investment will be in a sustainable solution, but how that solution will impact the lives of their employees and community.  Those individuals who have those soft skills are in high demand.

Are there geographical areas in the country that are more active than others when it comes to hiring for this industry?

Those areas where peak demand for HVAC is highest are the areas that are the most active. This would include California, the southeast, Florida and Texas.  The northeast region also is very active in the sustainability industry given legislation there is promoting high sustainability standards.

What are the most sought after positions in the Energy & Sustainability Industry?

The most sought after positions in the Energy & Sustainability Industry are those that are customer facing but also require technical ability.  These would include, sales, project engineering and managers, energy auditors and energy engineers.

Are there any educational qualifications that you would recommend for those seeking employment in the Energy & Sustainability Industry?

For those seeking employment in the Energy & Sustainability Industry, I would recommend the LEED certification as well as the Certified Energy Manager certification (CEM).  Both of these on a resume make a candidate within the industry considerably more attractive.

As a professional in the industry, what trends do you see on the horizon?

One of trends that I see on the horizon is an expansion of services by ESCO’s and energy efficiency consulting firms.  We are seeing a trend of organizations going beyond the simple ROI on an energy efficiency upgrade.  Those who seek sustainability solutions are looking for ways they can transform not only their energy consumption, but how sustainable solutions can impact the lives and productivity of their employees.  This would include asset management and the implementation of a training program on how to keep a building sustainable after the initial upgrade is completed.

How are you expanding and why the practice name change to Energy & Sustainability?

We’ve had great success in the energy industry focusing specifically on those companies who either make a traditional energy efficient product such as HVAC, building automation, LED lighting, advanced metering and energy management software.  We have since expanded not only to service organizations that implement or consult on energy & sustainability solutions, but also expand to emerging technologies that are vital to the future of sustainability.  These would include, energy storage, micro grid technology, cogeneration and advances in renewable technologies.

About Matthew Cohen
Matthew Cohen serves as the Energy & Sustainability Practice Leader for DRI’s growing Energy & Sustainability sector comprised of HVAC, Energy Management Software, Demand Response, Energy Services, Energy Efficiency, Building Automation, AMI & AMR Technologies, Energy Management Hardware and Systems Integration and Renewable Energy Technologies.  Matt is expanding his practice area through market research, candidate sourcing, recruiting and new business development.