Talent acquisition can be competitive. Even in the last 5 years where jobs were sometimes challenging to come by, attracting the top talent is always a concern. Who wants to settle for second or third best? Turnover can be one of the most expensive costs you incur so trying to avoid it is imperative. So how does a small business make themselves attractive to potential employees?
Back in my coffee days part of our mission was to “Develop enthusiastically satisfied customers, all of the time.” Not just from a sales stand point, but truth be told it was many times that customers became our employees. Companies like Starbucks, Zappos, and Subaru have incredible customer loyalty and why not tap into that? Excited new hires were always a welcome breath of fresh air for not only the existing employees but customer base as well. Excited customers become brand ambassadors which are more powerful than your sales force.
When I was in operations, employee engagement was one of the main things we wanted to improve. Our location had several organizational changes including schedule, productivity expectations and cultural shifts. All of those affect morale and have a direct impact on productivity. Since distribution was an expense center you can guess how badly we needed to cost less…So one main focus was on engagement which was measured by surveys.
A great correlation to those surveys and engagement was productivity. There were some wins and not so good outcomes but one glaring result was higher engagement led to better productivity. The key in this was tying the team to the result of the building and then the organization. Since employees could understand how a strong performance affected an entire building measurement it gave a sense of accomplishment and control. For a team that had been in position an average of 11 years it was satisfying to see how your efforts still led to something measurable. For an understanding, a productivity change was measured as a group at around 12 percent. Think about what a 12 percent increase can do to your potential sales.
Another point to consider, “Is what you’re offering what your employees actually want?” Looking at generational differences may be worth considering. Boomers and Gen X may want to look at medical coverage more closely as they may be using it more. Millennials may want more control over time and creativity in the work place. Understanding the needs of the generation of workers can help a business understand how to allocate resources a little more closely. Here are a few suggestions on what to offer:
1. Do you have a less tenured workforce? One thing you can offer as a small company is experience and results. Often time workers with less experience need to start building up their portfolio or history and a small business can offer an environment where employees can have more input, more responsibility and more direct outcome of projects. Huge career booster.
2. Does your business offer a flexible, more relaxed environment? Many times there are workers trying to get out of pressure cooker types of work settings, small businesses can offer a more enjoyable atmosphere which can be quite a refreshing change.
3. Being small in business can mean more flexibility to adapt. A key strength of smaller organizations is that they can adapt more rapidly to changing environments. Certain work styles appreciate this more, if you can remain nimble as a small business it can be very attractive to those who don’t fear change and thrive in ambiguous situations. Larger organizations seldom have this and lack of red tape can also be a welcome draw.
So to recap, offering quality products and services you keep your customer base excited which can be a possible source of future talent. By keeping engagement high you retain talent and internal efficiency remains high. This also makes your business attractive. And finally, by understanding the needs of your workforce you know how to position yourself and use what you have to offer in the most effective manner. When I work with small businesses at the SBDC we sometimes have to work with what resources they have and by pointing these things out it sometimes helps business owners see how much they really have to offer the workforce!