3 Tips to retain the best talent for a small business

By Matt Longman | 09/02/2016

Your employees are your most valuable resource—and also one of the biggest costs in your business, especially when you’re unable to fill vital positions. According to CareerBuilder, businesses lose an average of more than $14,000 for each position that remains vacant for three months or more. For 16% of businesses, that cost can exceed $25,000. 

For medium-sized businesses, talent acquisition and retention can be particularly challenging. According to a report from the Novo Group, nearly half of companies with annual revenues between $10 million and $1 billion say they often don’t have enough talent to fill leadership positions.   These hard-to-fill positions not only include entry-level and experienced positions, but also extend up the ladder to C-suite executive positions – leaving large gaps in the company strategy and the manpower needed to deliver on its commitments. 

When you’re hiring, you want the best. The difference between an A player and a B and C player can be significant, especially for small and medium-sized businesses that must contend with competition from large companies, as well as differentiate themselves from others with unique offerings. 

Offer Unique Benefits

While medium-sized and small businesses aren’t always able to match the compensation of a larger company, many of them have found that offering unique benefits can help them successfully attract talent and fill key positions.  Pay isn’t the top priority for everyone. Flexible work time, better vacation time, longer maternity leave, an ability to work from home, and growth opportunities can all also be meaningful to employees.

Provide Opportunities for Growth

Role expansion is another way companies can attract talent from larger competitors. According to the Novo Group report, 49% of employees say both growth opportunities, company culture, and work/life balance attracted them to medium-sized businesses. 75% of executives agree that the quality of their colleagues is an important component of the company’s value.

Be Flexible and Customize Offers

As more baby boomers move into retirement and Generations X/Y begin to dominate the workforce, competitive benefits have changed. Generation X/Y wants growth opportunities, but also wants to help contribute to a company’s social responsibility and have a better work/life balance than their parents. Small and medium-sized companies have an opportunity to use that to their advantage. One start-up retailer found an increase in employee candidates after offering its employees a month-long sabbatical after three years of employment.

Change is often harder for larger organizations, who may not have as much flexibility in offering unique benefits or employee perks. An ability to be flexible and customize their offerings in a way that large companies can’t help smaller organizations stay competitive when it comes to recruiting top talent. =

If your business is suffering from staffing challenges, you may need to make some changes to bring on top talent. Here are a few things you can do to get started.

  • Differentiate your company from the competition by finding ways it stands out.
  • Create benefits and offerings to employees that are authentic and align with your business.
  • Be creative and understand the desire of today’s workforce is different from what it once was.
  • Communicate your benefits to current and prospective employees. Keep in mind how people encounter your brand (on the Web, social media, employment fairs and in tools your organization uses internally).
  • Make use of your benefits in your recruiting efforts.