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How to attract and retain employees for your small business

Hiring employees is an exciting milestone for small businesses, but can come with its fair share of headaches.

Attracting the right talent to work for you takes a surprising amount of time and effort. It’s not as simple as posting a job description and waiting for the applications to roll in. On top of that, retaining those employees is essential for maintaining productivity—and avoiding going back to the cumbersome hiring process.  

We’re here to help set you on the right path with a few proven strategies for attracting and retaining talent for your business.

Quick index

Part 1: How to attract employees to work for you: 4 leading strategies

Part 2: How to retain employees: 3 tips for keeping top talent

How to attract employees to work for You: 4 leading strategies

How can you make sure talented employees are considering positions at your business and not your competitor’s? Here are some tips for attracting employees to your business.

1. Match the going-rate for the position

The salary or hourly rate that works for your budget won’t always match what candidates are looking for. If the average hourly rate for a waiter is $10 an hour in the location where you operate, you can’t offer $7.50 and expect to have top talent knocking on your door.

Make sure to at least match the going-rate for the position you’re hiring for to have your best shot at attracting top employees. Check out online job boards for similar positions in your area to get a sense of what that rate is.

2. Offer a strong benefit program (if you can)

Employees now expect a strong benefits program from their employers. If you want to attract (and retain) talent, try to offer as many employee benefits as you can.

Some examples of common benefits to offer are:

  • Paid time off (PTO) and sick days
  • Health, dental, vision, and life insurance
  • Retirement benefits and accounts
  • Childcare benefits
  • Gym and fitness reimbursements
  • Commuting assistance
  • And more.

Not all these employee benefits will be affordable for new or smaller businesses. If that’s the case, think about offering the benefits that employees in your area and industry would appreciate and need the most. Don’t forget to advertise the benefits you do offer on your job descriptions.

3. Offer referral incentives

Consider tapping into your existing employees’ networks to find and attract top talent. By offering a referral incentive for successful hires, you’ll get your current employees invested in the hiring process—and hopefully sending qualified candidates your way.

If you’re trying to hire your first employee and don’t have an existing base of employees to work with, you can still offer an incentive to your own network if they send candidates your way.

4. Use social media

Having an active social media presence can be key for attracting potential employees and showing why your company is a great place to work. Be sure your profiles on networks like LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook show off your business’s brand and the culture you’ve created.

You can also participate in relevant hiring conversations on social media to find employees. Try searching for hashtags like #NYChiring or #restaurantjobs.

How to retain employees: 3 tips for keeping top talent

Once you’ve attracted top talent to your business, the work isn’t over!

You have to put in effort to retain the employees you’ve hired—keeping them happy and fulfilled. Here are some strategies that will help you retain your employees.

1. Provide opportunities for career advancement

According to a 2016 Gallup study, 87% of millennials rate "professional or career growth and development opportunities" as important to them in a job.

Employees join to not only grow your business but grow their careers. Show that there’s a path for growth by taking an active interest in where your employees want to build their careers. You can help make that path concrete by laying out a development plan for advancement where it makes sense for your employees and your business.

2. Develop a positive culture and work environment

Investing in creating a positive culture can go a long way towards retaining your best employees. According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), negative work environments lead to unproductivity. A stressful culture can not only hurt the wellbeing of you and your employees, but it can be damaging to your business’s bottom line.

HBR lays out essential characteristics of a positive work environment that you can consider embracing:

  • Caring for and taking an interest in employees and colleagues.
  • Supporting employees and offering kindness and compassion during hard times.
  • Avoiding blame and forgiving mistakes.
  • Emphasizing the meaningfulness of the employee’s work.

3. Start an incentivized compensation program

An incentivized compensation program, like revenue sharing, is one of the best ways to keep employees motivated and at the company. With their compensation tied to the business’s success, they’ll have an inherent motivation to not only perform, but stay at the company and reap the benefits of the profit-sharing model.

You don’t need a full-blown HR department to set up an incentivized compensation program, but clear and concise communication is key to success. Employees should know exactly how the program works, and feel that their goals are ambitious but achievable.  

Attracting and retaining top talent: the bottom Line

Hiring employees can be challenging. And attracting and retaining those employees you hire is just one part of it.

There are other steps to take care of, from figuring out your payroll system to getting a business insurance policy like workers’ compensation. Luckily, there are online tools that make these steps easier—like Huckleberry, which can help you estimate your workers' comp rates.

That way, you can put your energy into what’s important: attracting and retaining the right people for the job.

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