How small businesses can attract and keep top talent

For any small business, attracting and retaining quality labor can be a challenge. In fact, a majority of small business owners give this task a pain point of seven out of 10, noting both that it's difficult to find hardworking and reliable employees, and that it's extremely difficult to find those who can self-direct their efforts.1

Here are 3 ways a small business can overcome these challenges:

1. Leverage employee referrals

Whether it’s struggling to find qualified candidates or sifting through piles of resumes, it can be difficult to find a great fit. Leaning on your employee networks can help solve this problem. “Our solution to finding great people is references," says Guy Bauer, owner of Chicago-based Guy Bauer Productions, a video production company with roughly 30 full-time staff.

“If a current employee references someone, that's 10 times more valuable than finding someone off the street. They're pre-vetted—nobody wants to give a bad referral."

2. Provide the benefits that employees want

Bauer sees employee benefits as an integral part of his employee attraction and retention strategy. He’s found that, in addition to medical, dental and vision benefits, perks like a 401(k), a yearly stipend that employees can spend on "leveling up" their skills, and a company-wide, all-or-nothing bonus help to attract highly driven candidates and foster a committed talent base.

Regardless of your market, benefits remain an attractive option for job-seekers. In fact, 88% of employees deciding between a higher-paying position and a lower-paying one with better benefits would give better health, vision and dental insurance "heavy" (54%) consideration.2

3. Develop your company brand

Small employers should create an environment where employees want to work to draw quality employees—and projecting that environment to potential candidates is critical. Leveraging social media (showcasing your brand) is one of the most effective ways that employers address recruitment challenges.3 If you're having trouble attracting great candidates, consider amplifying your job marketing efforts.

Of course, your brand must be backed by your efforts in the workplace, in order to consistently attract and retain great talent. This is especially important in competitive labor pools, where the more you can outperform your competitors, the easier it is to get noticed.

“It's building a team and a culture—being a good partner, a good vendor, a good client, just being good in the marketplace. Actually make it great to go to work, and talent will naturally seek that out," Bauer says.

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