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7 Steps to Make Your Small Business an Employer of Choice

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Maintaining and growing a small business can be difficult. Corporations with large budgets and operations often have an edge in many areas – including attracting talent. 

But small businesses have perks that can appeal to potential employees. From opportunities to learn new skills and perform diverse roles, to flatter organizational structures and more relaxed workplace cultures – many job seekers may be looking for just what you can offer them. The key is to highlight the unique benefits. 

1) Focus on the Right Employees

First things first: who are you looking to hire? Tailor the messaging about your open position to the personality type and profession you hope to attract. Creative thinkers, for instance, may be enticed by an inspiring, non-traditional work space. 

Be careful not to fall into stereotypes as you consider your ideal employee. Consider surveying your current team to understand what motivates them and which benefits you already offer (or don’t) that are most important to them. Use this knowledge as you consider how to message to applicants and select the best-fit candidate.

2) Highlight Non-Salary Perks

Many employers make the mistake of thinking of salary as the most important variable in attracting top-end talent. In small businesses, doing so may be a disadvantage as you compete against large businesses with larger budgets. 

So make sure to highlight the non-salary perks.

A 2015 survey found that 60 percent of talent find benefits and perks to be a major factor when it comes to choosing a job. The same survey also found that 80 percent of presently employed workers would choose more benefits over a pay raise. 

You might not be able to offer free college tuition, but there are plenty of other options that don't make a major dent in your budget:

  • Retirement and healthcare benefits

  • Vacation and time-off package

  • Flexible/compressed schedules and work from home opportunities

  • Retreats and professional development opportunities

  • Employee discounts on the product or service you sell

  • Complementary snacks and/or coffee 

  • Team bonding events or sponsored sports leagues

  • "Bleisure" options for business travel

  • Pet-friendly workspaces

  • Volunteer programs

You may offer some of these perks already. So why not highlight them as you're recruiting new talent?

3) Emphasize Work-Life Balance

With the majority of U.S. workers hailing from dual-working households, it’s now essential to take work-life balance into consideration. A 2017 study by the Harvard Business Review found a number of perks related to this balance to be a major consideration points for employees: flexible hours, more vacation time, and the ability to work remotely. All ranked in the top 4 of most important job-related perks.

It's not just a benefit for your employees, either. Studies have shown that improving work-life balance tends to increase employee productivity, benefiting everyone involved.

4) Involve Your Employees in Recruiting Talent

Don't underestimate the power of the people already working for your business; they might be your most effective recruiters. After all, they have the best possible insight into what it's like to work in your business every day.

Employees can help craft a job description that's relevant to the talent you're looking to attract. They can also spread the word about open positions among their personal and professional networks.

Don’t forget: your employees have a vested interest in attracting the right recruits – they'll work together on a daily basis. The more involved employees become in hiring, the more likely you are to find and convince top-end talent to join the team.

5) Showcase Everyday Work Life

Sometimes all it takes to become an employer of choice is simply showing what it's like to work in your business. Take time to explain everyday realities to applicants, but don't stop there. Behind the scenes videos can be immensely effective to give your recruits an understanding of their potential future. Another option is to allow a recruit to shadow employees and get the experience for themselves.

Remember, the idea is not to add a rose-tinted filter to the reality. Top-end talent will often sense dishonesty or quickly be discouraged if the reality doesn’t match up with the picture they were sold.

Instead, be honest. If they're not attracted by the reality, they might not be a good fit for your business.

6) Build an Employee Rewards Program

Most employees want to be rewarded for their work. How are you meeting that need? Building a consistent, fair rewards program can motivate your team and attract potential employees.

Employee recognition comes in a wide range of shapes and sizes. You can award bonuses for great work or publicly recognize successful projects. Even small perks like Pizza Night can do the trick.

The key is to create a consistent rewards program that current and potential employees appreciate. Ask employees what types of rewards they find most motivating. 

You can even create rewards that help you build Corporate Social Responsibility efforts. For instance, give awards to team members with the most community volunteer work or create a point-based system for energy savings – turning off your desk lamp is 5 points. These systems may attract talent, and also say something about the values that are important to your business.

7) Improve and Highlight Energy Efficiency

Never underestimate the importance of your efforts to save energy. Consider that social and environmental values have become increasingly important to today’s workforce. One study reported that a majority of people simply won't work for companies that don't have strong social and environmental commitments. 

Highlight the values in your business and adjust your energy management accordingly. It may seem like a long shot to go solar in hopes of becoming an employer of choice. But considering that 90 percent of Americans are now strong supporters of this energy source, it just might work. A targeted strategy to improve and communicate your energy efficiency may be the key to recruiting top-end talent – not to mention improving your image with customers.

We're not HR experts, and we're sure there are plenty of other ways to hire the talent you need to succeed and grow. But we do know that energy has a big role to play in many decision-making situations. So why not take this step to recruit your top-end talent?

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Posted: May 24, 2018