Can Small Businesses Compete with Large Firms for Talent?

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With the Great Resignation, hiring talent has become more challenging than ever, especially for small businesses.

report on small businesses by The Manifest found that over half of small companies are planning to hire in 2022, with 83% of them facing at least one HR and staffing difficulty.

In fact, around 30% of businesses have difficulty sourcing the right candidates and filling open positions quickly.

When compared to larger firms that are hiring, these smaller businesses may be dwarfed by the bigger salaries and greater benefits. Despite these issues, it’s still entirely possible for small businesses to hire great talent.

Changing work expectations has opened the field for anyone to recruit the best employees. According to the hiring trends listed on LHH, valuable hires are leaving their current jobs in unprecedented numbers to test the open market.

While they are looking at tripled salaries or gaudy signing bonuses, small businesses can edge out larger organizations by staying attuned to employee needs and expectations.

Salary is important, but highly skilled workers often want to enter organizations with strong leadership cultures and a psychologically safe working environment.

By investing in good work culture and non-traditional benefits, your company can hire good talent. Here are some ways you can attract talent to your organization:

Offer personalized engagement

With the influx of candidates in bigger companies, hires are treated like they’re a commodity — the hiring experience is often fast-paced.

Small businesses have more flexibility in their hiring practices, so it’s essential that you actively engage in your recruitment. You can form relationships with candidates by providing updates on the company and their application process, and even just checking in with them.

Executives of your company can also be designated to interview candidates, providing greater value to the hiring experience.

Beyond those already applying, you can also reach out to passive candidates. According to Hunt Scanlon Media’s article on recruiting passive candidates, people who aren’t actively looking for a job may make the strongest hires, as they are more likely to focus on relationships and the long-term economic sustainability of their current company.

To reach out to these potential candidates, you need to go beyond a great job description and develop a compelling story about your organization. By personalizing the opportunities on offer, you can communicate compellingly and encourage them to join your organization.

Showcase company culture and perks

As mentioned earlier, more candidates are looking for good company culture rather than a large salary. Harvard Business Review’s report on work culture notes a survey that found 65% of people would rather put up with lower pay and 26% would accept a lower title than deal with a bad workplace environment.

However, there is often a disconnect between business leaders’ and employees’ perceptions of development, with almost half of employees noting that leadership is minimally or not at all committed to improving culture.

But unlike big firms that struggle with balancing management, small businesses have greater room for building an empowered culture.

Small businesses often have fewer employees, which makes it easier to establish relationships within the workplace. Rather than making the workplace suffocating, this promotes a family-like culture where people can be honest and respected.

Furthermore, you can showcase opportunities for work-life balance or even offer to let your employees work from home twice a week.

These opportunities don’t have to be big and flashy — flexibility and a good working environment are sufficient for attracting potential employees.

Recognize employee efforts

Many employees want to work at a company where they feel valued. Personal compliments can go a long way, but making company-wide appreciation notices can instill a sense of pride and dedication, encouraging them to stay with the business.

In the case of candidates, being able to see that current staff are appreciated and rewarded can spur them to join your company.

Our post “How Employee of the Month Program Can Help a Small Business” shares how an employee of the month program is a great way to recognize work efforts, foster healthy competition between employees, and boost their morale.

It’s important that you remain transparent in the selection rules and processes as favoritism may end up demotivating employees.

In addition to honoring and recognizing the winner, you should offer meaningful rewards like gift vouchers or days off to inspire other employees to keep working hard.

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