As a small business owner or entrepreneur in 2018, you understand that we live in a different world than what existed thirty years ago. Large corporations and startups are offering their employees innovative (but costly) perks to attract employees. In this environment, how can you, as a small business entity with a modest budget, hold on to the stars in your company before they are stolen away by the flashing lights, vacation promises and big bucks that big corporations and startups can offer? Don’t despair, there are plenty of options that don’t require venture-backed funding to be able to afford.
Internal Mobility: As your company grows, consider how you can move some of those top performers into management positions. By recognizing your internal talent, and utilizing the employees you already have on board, you send a message to everyone in the organization that you value their time and commitment to the company. When you are looking for a long-term fit in an employee, they are also looking for a long-term fit in the company. When internal mobility is possible, make it happen! So often companies spend thousands of dollars recruiting when they may have a great candidate sitting right in front of them. Employees love to see that they have an opportunity to grow in their own career while setting down roots in an organization that they can stand by.
Employee Engagement: One of the most cost-effective solutions to getting a grasp on how your employees feel about the company culture is to create an anonymous employee engagement survey utilizing Survey Monkey or your own company intranet polling options. Shape the questions based on your organization’s current goals and make the survey quick and easy to access and answer. Provide ample opportunity for more thorough responses, but also keep in mind that most employees will check out if the questions get too detailed or require more than a few minutes of their time.
Community Building: Speaking of employee engagement, a well-thought-out active company intranet can be a great way to increase engagement among employees. Platforms like Zoho Connect are an affordable intranet option and allow you to build your own internal company bulletin board, complete with options for creating teams, chat rooms, project boards, and much more. This is an especially critical tool for remote work teams to bridge those gaps between time zones and home offices and bring your employees together in a shared space.
Brand Power: The biggest supporters of your organization should be the ones who are already a part of the company. Share information about the company with your employees, and encourage them to share it on LinkedIn and Twitter. Use your company brand on a larger scale than simply logos and mission statements on the organization’s website. Think big, and inspire your employees to become the company’s biggest cheerleaders. If your workforce shares an office space, consider sponsoring company events (even a catered lunch once a quarter or around the holidays can go a long way for boosting morale in a small organization) and encourage the employees to blast it all over social media! If your workforce is entirely remote, consider alternative options such as GrubHub or DoorDash paid for on the employee’s birthday or work anniversary. Use the technology and weapons of today’s world against your competition, and make a statement for yourself as an organization that makes people want to work for you, and stay there long-term.
Work Flexibility: Workplace flexibility in 2018 is not just about telecommuting and flex schedules. Employees today love creative workspaces that allow them to share ideas and collaborate. According to BuzzFeed, branding trendsetters like Ologie have implemented creative points for inspiration throughout the office. Ologie’s Marketing Director says, “We have 15,000 square feet of corkboard in our office that supports displayed thinking, an integral part of how we work.” Obviously, we don’t all have 15,000 square feet of space, but think of options that work for your company. At Equivity, we share task boards and photos utilizing Zoho Connect to keep everyone plugged in and thinking out loud.
For businesses that do not require a conventional office space, a creative and cost-effective option can be co-working spaces like WeWork, The Farm, and Green Desk. If your employees work locally to you in proximity but remotely in a home office, consider renting a coworking space that can be shared amongst your employees throughout the month on a rotating schedule. After all, according to Emily Klein, contributing writer at Oracle, “Sitting in a cubicle all day long is increasingly considered a workplace hazard in attracting top talent. Given schedule complexities that govern daily lives, employees want freedom in how and where they work.”
Learning & Development: Another great option we are seeing more often is organizations investing in employee professional development opportunities such as certifications or licenses. Not only will they improve an employee’s knowledge in the field, but they will also boost employee morale by showing employees that your organization supports knowledge, learning, and development. Encourage your employees to attend trainings, offer perks that go along with those trainings, and generally provide a positive learning and working environment where people feel like they can spread their wings, and not be boxed into a cubicle or a job that will start to feel suffocating if nothing ever changes.
A Bigger Purpose: Employees not only want to be engaged with their work, they want a company culture that supports great causes, offers volunteer opportunities, and gives back in some monetary or giving way. According to Susan Cooney, founder, and CEO of Givelocity, “Combining efforts in charitable activities brings people together to share their voice and work jointly for a greater impact in driving change.”
The basic premise behind this strategy is to keep your employees engaged with not only their job tasks, but also with a larger mission statement, vision, or volunteerism. By bridging the gaps between employees across state lines in a remote workforce, you can build a sense of togetherness and purpose by sharing details on charities and volunteer opportunities for your employees. Also, showing your employees that you care on a larger scale, is a great way to build that cohesiveness and humanize your efforts in team building and retaining top performers.
What would it cost to adopt one or more of these initiatives and implement small changes to bolster your organization’s fighting power in the constant battle over top talent? Remember, you are not just taking small steps towards improving the quality of your employees and retention of those employees, but you are also making a statement about long-term goals and big-picture missions for your company. A two-birds-with-one-stone kind of deal is always a bonus when budget and manpower are concerns! Think of recruitment and retention like dating. It’s easy to make a good first impression, but keeping someone around for the long haul is the true testament of a winning strategy.