What does Megyn Kelly's move from Fox News to NBC say about the media landscape and the changing nature of cross-party political discussion in America? I have no idea. I'm just a business blogger.

But as someone who reads and reports regularly on HR issues, I can say there is definitely one lesson that her private career decision is screaming to the nation's employers: You can often bag incredible talent, even if you can't offer them the highest compensation, by actually listening to what they want to get out of their work.

Seeing your kids can be worth more than $20 million

Kelly, you may have read, turned down a hugely lucrative $20 million offer to stay on at Fox in favor of a less rich deal from NBC. Why? According to The New York Times, NBC won out by offering to move her to a daytime slot, which would allow her to spend more time with her children and husband.

"[The chairman of NBC's news division Andrew] Lack won her over by starting the talks with a question about what she was seeking, instead of flatly offering possibilities," the paper's Jim Rutenberg reports. "He then came back with a deal that was tailored to her preferences. A daytime show would give her a schedule that would allow her to see her children off to school and to have dinner with them and her husband."

More evidence that quality of life often trumps salary

As Oliver Staley of Quartz notes this "approach is rare--but it should be the norm in any industry." Several firms have already discovered that by focusing not just on salary and prestige, but on a holistic package that includes work-life sanity they can attract top talent away from well-funded competitors, Staley adds.

"Professional women--and men--are increasingly eager to find ways to strike a balance between work and family," he writes, and "an increasing number of employers, from Deloitte to Ikea, are recognizing that being family friendly is a competitive advantage."

The unfolding Megyn Kelly episode and the example of the firms cited by Staley aren't the only evidence that paying attention to quality of life can be a highly successful recruiting strategy for those with shallower pockets. Recent research from Bright Horizons found that half of those surveyed (49 percent to be precise) would willingly trade a slice of salary for better work-life balance.

Kelly is clearly far from alone in her preferences.

The takeaway for employers is crystal clear--be like Lack. You might not be able to offer the most money, but dangling a thoughtfully crafted package that actually responds to candidates' preferences is a killer way to lure top talent away from big, richer companies.

Would you trade some salary for more humane working conditions as Kelly did?

Published on: Jan 4, 2017