How SMBs Can Hire & Keep Quality Employees

Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMBs) struggle to compete with large corporations in several areas, but one of the biggest concerns for small business owners is being able to hire and keep quality employees with the same effectiveness as their enterprise counterparts. It’s easy to attract top talent when your company can offer competitive pay, benefits, elaborate perks, award-winning cultures, and offices in the most popular cities. It’s more difficult to attracting top talent as a small business that may not be able to offer paid vacation, a 401(K), or high salaries. Small businesses are also strongly affected by shifts in unemployment and career trends, which can make it even more difficult to find employees. When unemployment is low and workers are more selective about jobs, or when the amount of workers qualified for certain industries, like manufacturing or construction, is scarce, SMBs can struggle even more.

Yet, being able to attract and retain quality employees can greatly benefit a small business; high turnover at a small company that already has few employees means constantly training new team members and possibly struggling to manage the business during transitions. While large companies often have multiple employees in the pipeline ready to take on a new role, or the capital to attract outside talent, a small business might have to start from scratch every time there’s turnover.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a magic trick that will help SMBs compete on the same level as corporations for top talent, but there are a few things small businesses can do to help hire and keep quality employees.

Small Businesses Can Attract Top Talent

There are plenty of reasons quality employees would want to work for a small business: some may be looking to take years of experience and use it to help grow a smaller venture, others may be drawn to working for a company that’s more personal or has an appealing mission. Small businesses should capitalize on the characteristics that make them great, and use their strengths to bring in quality employees.

Maybe you can’t offer as high a salary, but you could offer more responsibility, a higher title, closer interactions with executives, more ownership, or the opportunity to create real change. Sometimes more can be accomplished at a small business where employees wear many hats, than at a large company with long chains of command. Working for the “backbone of America” has a certain appeal to it, and by embodying the entrepreneurial spirit, small businesses can entice top talent to come aboard.

Become an SMB Employees Want to Work For

Take a look at your business from an outsider’s perspective:

  • Are you the type of SMB that a quality employee would want to work for? 
  • Do you get to know your employees personally?
  • Are you flexible with emergencies or time off?
  • Do you do small things to let your employees know you appreciate them?

Often times, money and benefits don’t mean as much to employees as relationships, trust, and gratitude. It sounds a little Hallmark, but what your small business has to offer is something a corporation will always struggle to achieve: the loyalty and camaraderie that can only come from being small. It may not be lower salaries or limited PTO that prevents you from keeping quality employees; it might be culture.

Compete on the Enterprise Level

If none of this sounds convincing to you, there’s always a third option: growing and managing your finances. If you want to compete for top talent, you’ll need to become consistently profitable, manage your cash flow carefully, minimize your risks, and possibly even get outside funding or new contracts.

  • Higher profit margins can afford you the ability to offer best-in-class culture and benefits. You may want to consider getting a contract for your business to help it grow and increase your revenue.
  • Even once you’re consistently profitable, you may still need extra capital to offer bonuses or raises, and you may need to apply for a loan or seek venture capital.
  • If you manage and forecast your cash flow while minimizing risks like slow payments or bad debt, you’ll have more cash on hand and be able to allocate it toward improving your culture or pass savings on to your employees.

It may not be a fast or easy process, but you can get started today by monitoring your business credit file with Dun & Bradstreet. Strong business credit scores and ratings can get you better interest rates and insurance premiums, win you more contracts and loans, and help you avoid working with unreliable companies. A company with all that going on definitely sounds like a place top talent would want to work.