Your small business needs the smartest, most-gifted employees to become one of the big (or bigger) guys. But, your larger counterparts have disposable income while you can think of 20 must-have high-priority purchases that you need to make in addition to payroll. How can your small business possibly attract the talent that you need until you achieve the next level of success?
Employees don’t live by paychecks and benefits alone. In fact, working for a flexible small business might be more enticing than taking a cog-in-the-wheel job. Your job is to recognize your business’ true value and sell it to the applicants who can help you grow.
Job Applicants Seek More than Just Paychecks and Benefits
Don’t expect employees to work on a volunteer basis; however, as long as you offer a reasonable rate of pay for the work they do, many applicants recognize the value of other types of compensation. Open your eyes to a seemingly-limitless list of options around you. Here are six ideas to get you started.:
#1. Take advantage of your local area
Does your office building have a health club? Is a great coffee shop located on your block? Many local businesses that want to expand their customer bases are more than willing to offer significant discounts to get your employees through their doors at no cost to you. There is a number of ways to set up these arrangements, so try to negotiate an option that benefits everyone.
#2. Offer flexible work schedules
Unfortunately, not all businesses are effective when employees come and go as they please. But, you probably have more flexibility than you realize. You may not want anyone to start the workday at midnight, but here are a few possible options:
- Offer a range of start/end times: Rather than starting everyone promptly at 8:00 a.m., Let them choose any start time within the core hours of 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. (or whatever works for you). The natural night owls on your team will certainly appreciate the chance to sleep in for an extra hour or two, and they will be more alert and productive when they start their days.
- Allow employees to take certain hours off the table: Many employees care for young children during the day or an elderly family member at night. They will rest more easily knowing that you will never ask them to work during these critical times — and they will find other ways to chip in when high workloads require overtime.
- Consider job sharing options: Don’t discount the idea that two employees can share one job under more circumstances than you might imagine. Job sharing has its share of pros and cons, but a well-considered program can work well for everyone.
#3. Let them work from home
The average one-way commute time in the U.S. is about 26 minutes — just short of one hour per day. Let some or all of your employees telecommute even one day per week, and you save them about one work-week of frustration each year. Telecommuting is an attractive benefit to job applicants, but you also gain about one work-week of productivity as well.
#4. Provide employee product or service discounts
I once worked for an automotive and industrial fasteners company, so their products seldom tempted me. But if you sell great products or services — or if you buy supplies at discounts that you can pass on to employees — these deals can make a real difference to your team.
#5. Give them a voice
During the interview, stress that you support an open-door policy — and you take ideas, suggestions and grievances seriously. Cite some examples of employee suggestions that you implemented to prove that you recognize that employee suggestions have real value to the business.
Don’t forget that Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOP) or stock options actually turn employees into voting members. If either of these options fits within your business structure, then applicants can recognize the importance of employees in your eyes.
#6. Fight for a cause
Your younger employees (translated: millennials and Gen Xers) are typically motivated by jobs that make the world better. An employer that gives back to the community or the world gives their jobs a higher purpose.
Whether your business takes recycling to a new level, participates in charitable fund-raising events or provides give-back time that permits employees to devote paid time to their preferred causes, it’s important to make that clear during the interview.
Small Business Flexibility Offers Certain Hiring Advantages
Don’t forget an often-overlooked advantage: by necessity, your small business needs to be very flexible. This means that your team members are seldom locked into a strictly-defined set of responsibilities. So, while programmers in a big company just code the designs of others, your most creative programmers might move into design quickly. Or, an inventory control analyst who understands your product line might get the chance for sales (and commissions).
As you interview candidates, make a point of mentioning opportunities for learning and growth. Their reactions serve as a natural hiring filter. Applicants who balk at this type of flexibility might fare better in a larger company pigeonhole. The ones whose eyes light up with interest and excitement are more likely to serve your business well over a long term.