Attracting the right people to work for their companies is as much a challenge for small companies as it is for large ones. Surveys show that 50 to 60 percent of small business owners state that they have a hard time finding the right talent to fill their open positions.
Furthermore, hiring employees is just a start to creating a strong workforce. You also have to keep them around. High employee turnover costs business owners in time and productivity. Money and benefits may attract people to the front door, but something else has to keep them from going out the back. People have a basic human need to feel appreciated and proud of their work. Reward and recognition programs help meet that need.
The best people for your organization are likely those who are looking for more than a simple income stream. They could be looking for a stimulating environment where they can build their skills, be challenged, and have a stake in the ultimate success of the company. Before they go to work for you, they may scrutinize you as much as you are them. They may be seeking a better balance between their personal and professional lives. Offering flexible schedules, job sharing, time and opportunity for civic work or reduced summer hours can help.
If you’re going to go after great people, you need to understand what motivates them. Often they come up with some very creative things that you wouldn’t think of because you’re thinking about what would be motivating to you. In other words, don’t just guess at what they want or need, ask them. A successful reward and recognition program does not have to be complicated or expensive to be effective.
Consider some of these examples:
- Offer a competitive benefits package that fits your employees’ needs. Providing health insurance, life insurance and a retirement-savings plan is essential in retaining employees. But other perks, like flex time and job sharing, go a long way to show employees you are willing to accommodate their holistic well-being.
- Provide small perks. Free bagels on Fridays and dry-cleaning pickup and delivery may seem insignificant to you, but if they help employees better manage their lives, they’ll appreciate it and may be more likely to stick around.
- Get active in the community as a team to build goodwill and cohesiveness. It could be anything from a recreational softball or bowling team, to volunteering in charitable activities.
- Foster employee development. This could be training to learn a new job skill or tuition reimbursement to help further your employee’s education. Give employees a clear path of advancement.
- Consider financial awards for employees who meet performance goals and stay for a pre-determined time period. Create a bonus structure where employees can earn an annual bonus if they meet pre-specified performance goals.
- Make sure employees know what you expect of them. It may seem basic, but often in small companies, employees have a wide breadth of responsibilities. If they don’t know exactly what their jobs entail and what you need from them, they can’t perform up to standard, and morale can dip.
- Conduct “stay” interviews. In addition to performing exit interviews to learn why employees are leaving, consider asking longer-tenured employees why they stay. Why did they come to work here? Why have they stayed? What would make them consider leaving? What would you change or improve? Then use that information to strengthen your employee-retention strategies.
A company’s ability to attract, motivate and retain is emerging as the primary indicator of fiscal performance and survival. The challenge of replacing Baby Boomers who are nearing retirement will continue. Given the diverse workforce, companies will have to offer well-rounded, creative and relevant rewards programs as they try to access and retain the best and brightest in the market.
Tina Brown is the HR Consulting Supervisor at MCM CPAs & Advisors. Tina began her HR career in the insurance and financial services industry, working in benefits administration, payroll, strategic planning, and training and development. For the past several years, she has worked in assessments, hiring assistance and development.
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