How to attract talent to a small business.
It can be easy to think that large employers like General Electric who attract 50 applicants per post or super brand employers like Google – who reportedly received 75,000 job applications in a week have it easy when it comes to attracting talent. Disregarding the speculative applications, these applicants can simply place an ad, and, thanks to the power of their expertly developed super brand, the applicants come rolling in.
Of course, we know its not that easy, the employer super brands are looking for the upper decile of talent and have to compete fiercely with each other to get what they want. Even so, although I accept its not a walk in the park for employer superbrands, in terms of attracting talent, the job of attracting talent (in a numerical sense), is a lot easier than it is for small businesses with lesser known brands. This assertion is franked by a Career Builder survey which found that firms with ‘strong employer brands attract at least 3.5 times more applicants per job post than firms in the same industry’. As well as this research from the Corporate Leadership Council showed that firms with strong employer brands could source from up to 60 percent of the labor market, compared to just 40% for those with weaker brands.
As well as being able to attract more candidates, super brand employers tend to have more firepower in terms of lucrative benefits and great perks than small businesses which give them enhanced deal closing capacities. So small businesses are at a real disadvantage to the big players when finding top talent; therefore, how can small business develop effective hiring strategies that enable them to fight above their weight and snare the top talent out of the clutches of the super brands? To do this, small businesses need to focus on the advantages that they have over larger business in terms of their culture and environment and ensure this is clearly presented in the employee branding proposition – and I have provided 6 tips on how to do this below:
1. Introduce Flexible Working and Homeworking Options
Research from American Express Small Business Monitor shows us that two of the top three strategies deployed by small businesses to attract top talent were Flexible Work Hours (70%) and Work from home options (40%).
Clearly, these two perks play to the strengths and capabilities of small businesses over larger business – so if you can offer Flexible/Home working options as a small business, then we recommend that you do so to strengthen your small business brand and attract top talent.
2. Create a Culture and Focus on Work-life Balance
Develop a working environment that is focused around work-life balance. The days of over stressed executives jumping from 40 story windows are over, (of course they should have never been here), and people want work-life balance as shown by the survey above which revealed that 46% of respondents indicated that ‘work/life balance was one of the reasons that they stayed at small firms‘.
So if you want to attract top talent to your small business, invest in a work-life balance strategy, (which of course necessitates hard work), but which includes flexible and home-working options as shown above which actively promotes and values the employee’s physical and mental health and well-being, leisure time, rest time, holiday time etc.
3. Create Autonomy and Independence
The second most popular strategy deployed by small business to attract top talent was creating and promoting autonomy and independence (63%). Small businesses are well placed to provide their staff with autonomy as they lack the bureaucracy and management hierarchy of larger businesses.
So, another way to attract top talent to a small business is to create an environment and roles where employees are empowered (within constraints naturally), to use their initiative, make changes, make suggestions and have much more control over themselves and their environment.
4. Design varied jobs that allow more exposure to the business – leading to greater learning
In larger companies roles tend to be more specialized and narrow but roles in smaller companies tend to be broader, more diverse and arguably more interesting – which creates a much greater potential for learning and personal development in small business. So, ensure that your employee brand proposition clearly shows a potential for broad exposure to the business and enhanced learning and development opportunities
5. Conduct ‘Stay Interviews’ to find out why your employees joined and why they stay
Of course the exact way that you develop your employee offering should be tailored to suit your target market. One way you can do this is to offer ‘Stay Interviews’ as suggested by Professor Agarwal from McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business which are a lot like exit interviews. They involve finding out why the employee joined the business, what keeps them there and so on, and what else they value. You can use this information to continually improve your brand offering so it is relevant and attractive to your target market – meaning you can attract talent more effectively.
6. Create a Company Culture Video to Communicate your brand and get more job applicants
Videos can help communicate your brand and according to Careerbuilder internal data, postings with videos icons are viewed 12% more than those without and received a 34% greater application rate. So, having developed your great small employer brand proposition, make a video and attract more talent in the process.