There are many advantages of working in a small business. But one of the areas where small companies struggle is attracting and retaining employees. Big businesses offer big salaries, and smaller businesses can’t always compete. Therefore competition over the jobs market is fierce.

That being said, there are many benefits that smaller organisations can offer. Their unique advantages leave bigger businesses trailing. The challenge is to promote these incentives to potential candidates.

The first point to acknowledge is that not everyone is motivated by money. We all need to pay our bills and keep a roof over our heads. However, there are many other benefits that job seekers look for when it comes to employment. This includes:

  • Job satisfaction

  • The ability to learn, grow and progress in the role

  • Job security

  • Autonomy - the ability to manage and control their own workload and process

  • The ability to learn lots of areas of a business and not to be confined to one area

  • Working with friendly, like-minded people

  • Flexible working hours and processes

  • The ability to make a difference

  • A supportive and forward-thinking working environment and access to Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs)

  • Working in a creative, non-corporate environment

All of the above matter and many of these provide greater incentives than a big salary. Therefore, SMEs need to embrace this to attract qualified, experienced workers.

The first step is to carry out some research and get to know your target market. Attend recruitment fairs, graduate events, and speak to your staff. Find out what potential candidates are looking for. Use this knowledge to create desirable and competitive packages. This should then be communicated throughout the organization. Job descriptions, contracts, and other documentation will need to be addressed. Incentives should be communicated clearly across all channels and advertisements.



You may also need to rethink some of your internal policies. For example, offering flexible working hours and the ability to work from home. This may bring about some changes within your organization. Include all staff in any discussions and allow everyone to have their say. Always remember that recruitment and training staff is expensive. It takes time and money. It is, therefore, important to nurture the staff you have to keep them for as long as possible.

Following on from this point, retaining staff is a challenge for any organization. Small businesses often find that workers stay with them for a year or two to gain knowledge and experience. Many leave at this point to develop their careers. It is important that small organizations address this. Offering a structured and transparent road to progression is a good starting point. As a small employer, you may not be able to offer expensive training schemes. An alternative is to create your own in-house training package that is progressive for all levels. Give it a name and become known for it. Having a gold standard of training and progression is a real draw for potential candidates. It also provides an incentive for employees to stick around. If there’s always something new to learn, why would they go elsewhere?

If your business can’t compete with big business salaries, look at other benefits. Find out about the people you are attempting to recruit. What is important to them? What motivates them? Build a package and work environment that supports this. Then focus on that in your advertisements, and salary won’t be as much of an issue.

Ashley Richardson is the Chief Marketing Officer and the latest addition to the Zenruption team. She studied at Boise State Unversity and changed her major 12 times before finding her true love in the study of Law. Her life goals include traveling the world, petting all the cats and burning the establishment to the ground. Yeah, we think she kicks much ass and her cat is pretty cool too.







Feature photo courtesy of Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license