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How can small businesses recruit and retain good talent?

Recruiting and retaining great talent can be challenging for small business owners in today’s tight job market. They’re going up against big corporations with more resources, who can offer bigger salaries and better benefits. But it’s something that small business owners need to focus on, because in a small office, having one bad employee can drag the whole office down.

What do benefits packages look like in 2019?

In the past, employers didn’t have to put much thought into their benefits packages. You could offer the standard sick leave, vacation after one year and partial medical insurance coverage. Benefits packages were basically the same across the board, and candidates generally weren’t too concerned about the specific benefits offered at different companies.

Times have changed. Today, benefits packages are often 3-4 times bigger than they were before. Most employers offer 10 PTO days, 7 paid holidays and 100% coverage of medical, dental, drug and vision. Many employers also pay for parking and offer flexible schedules, like allowing employees to come in after traffic or work from home.

Company culture matters

If your business can’t afford to compete on salary and benefits, consider focusing on your company culture to attract great candidates. In a small business, each employee really matters to the success of the company. Encouraging that feeling of engagement and ownership can be a draw for candidates who want to make a difference and who feel a sense of pride in their work.

Businesses where the office feels like a family and where employees have a good work-life balance also do well in recruiting.

Ways to convey your company culture to a prospective employee:

  1. If your attrition rate is low, let them know;

  2. Take them on a tour so they can get a feel for the office and meet current employees;

  3. Give them an Employee Handbook so they have a bigger picture of how the business runs.

More on the Employee Handbook

A good Employee Handbook can function as a recruiting tool. Listing your core values shows the candidate what matters to your company. Being able to read the policies and procedures lets recruits know the nitty-gritty of what to expect as an employee of your business. We recommend giving the candidate a copy of your Employee Handbook along with the offer letter, to stand out as a well-run, well-organized operation.

Proactive recruiting

In this job market, employers need to be proactive. You can’t just post a job online and sit back and wait for the applications to roll in. Go on LinkedIn and Facebook to make connections and look for candidates. Ask your connections for referrals. When a good resume comes in, call right away and schedule the interview asap.

Proactive recruiting: a real-world example

Recently we posted a job listing for a client. Within ten minutes, we received a promising resume, called the applicant and set up a meeting for the following day. At that meeting, we scheduled her interview with the client two days later.

The day after our in-person meeting, the applicant had an interview at another company. She was offered that job and called to say she needed to cancel her interview with our client. We encouraged her to keep the interview, just to make sure she was making the right decision. She agreed, went to the interview, and ended up taking the position with our client. It was a perfect fit.

In a different job market, when the applicant called to cancel the interview, a recruiter could have wished her well, knowing that lots of other applicants were available. That’s not the case anymore. Strong candidates often have multiple offers, and small business owners need to step up to stay in the game.

Retaining good employees

It might seem like this whole article is about recruiting, but this also applies to retention. If your benefits package isn’t competitive, if you don’t have an Employee Handbook and your employees don’t know what’s expected of them, if you haven’t paid attention to company culture and your team is fractured by favoritism – these are all reasons for employees to look for a way out. Focusing on these key areas of your business can help you keep your good employees and bring in good recruits.

If you need help…

Since 2003, Talent HR Solutions has helped connect employers with talent throughout the Honolulu, HI, area. In addition to its comprehensive talent recruitment services, the human resources management firm will also oversee your company’s payroll and employee benefits. For more information, call (808) 354-0498, or visit their website for a full breakdown of their services. Visit us at

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