As many small businesses leap into the new year, we are often challenged by the need to grow our team of employees at many different levels while trying to compete with the “big guys” (major employers) to attract top talent. As smaller employers, we are often at a disadvantage competing with much larger employers in our area who may offer higher salaries, more robust benefit packages, larger offices, etc.
But many employee perspectives are changing as we begin to emerge from the 2020 pandemic year experience. Employees at all levels are voicing an increasing desire and value placed on culture, work-life balance, time with family and achieving greater productivity AND purpose on their occupations.
With these new workforce perspectives in mind, consider these four tangible ways to attract even stronger candidates to your small business and help you WIN the war for talent vs the big guys!
1. Offer more personal time off (PTO) and vacation time
Review and expand your policies to increase employee time off. Even if this is based solely on duration of employment in years, you can attract talent by offering more days or weeks off upfront in year one for new employees while enhancing the value to your existing employees. Employees are putting much more weight and importance in having more time away to spend with family, involved in their personal causes or charities or other interests. This may seem to be a costly endeavor, but it is not IF you have created a balanced and organized team that drives forward no matter who is out on vacation. It will make a difference with candidates considering joining your small business team!
2. Consider absorbing a higher percentage of healthcare benefit costs with reduced employee contributions
For many small business owners, the annual ritual to shop, review, then select a health benefit package for their employees is almost as pleasant as having a tooth pulled. The cost percentage split between employer and employee varies widely, especially between smaller and larger employers.
According to the 2020 Employer Health Benefits Survey from Kaiser Family Foundation
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there were 55% of small employers and 99% of large employers who offer at least some healthcare benefits to their employees with an overall offer rate of 56%. So, consider differentiating your small business by not only offering a competitive healthcare benefit package, but also consider absorbing a little more of the employer-paid portion to give your employee candidate a key reason to join your team. Even raising your employer-paid portion of your percentage to 65% or 75% or higher will help you compete with the large employers who simply may not contribute to that higher level.
You may also want to consider providing a daycare or family care allowance as part of your overall healthcare benefits to help set you apart.
3. Enable increased work-from-home flexibility
We have all experienced it over these last 10 months. An unprecedented level of shelter-in -place mandates in each State and massive employer work-from-home requirements for both small and large businesses. Consider learning from your 2020 experience which DID show us employees CAN work from home and maintain high or even higher levels of productivity than many thought possible.
Provide a solid work-from-home offering to give your employees—-and especially those new talents you are trying to attract——the added flexibility to work from home on a scheduled basis of hours or days each week. This will also require you as a small business employer to TRUST your employees upfront with a supportive management structure.
Keep in mind it may be this same level of heightened trust that you are exemplifying in your current employees that will attract talented candidates. The old “command and control” approach to managing, leading people with forced requirements to be onsite everyday will lose the talent war every time. If you currently have this outdated approach in place, you are overdue to jettison this old-fashioned employer practice. The successful small business employers of 2021 have this level of trust and flexibility built into their culture.
4. Invest in ongoing training and professional development plans
Initial and ongoing training offerings to your employees WILL make a difference in your recruiting top talent, as well as, building your retention, culture and better recognizing your employees career interests for potential development.
According to a 2019 LinkedIn Workforce Learning Report, 94% of employees say that they would stay at a company longer if it invested in helping them learn.
Set aside an investment for each employee to help them learn new skills, enhance, or expand their current skills and develop new abilities and strengths to drive your small business success. Offering this upfront as a commitment to your employee candidate in the interviewing process will set your business apart. Do not underestimate the high impact a solid professional development and training investment will make on your employee candidates!
As a small business owner, you CAN win the war on talent and beat “the big guys” in 2021. By implementing these 4 tactics and ensuring flexibility while maintaining productivity, your business will be in optimal position to attract and retain top talent!