How to Recruit Employees for Small Businesses

Tips to Get the Best Recruits for Your Small Business

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How to recruit employees is always a top concern for any small business that needs them. Employees are always aging, changing careers, or becoming unable to continue in their positions for one reason or another. And now economists warn that future demographic trends will contribute to a shortage of high quality employees - and small business jobs will go begging. According to some experts, the labor force is shrinking, as more Baby Boomers are leaving the labor market and birth rates have been declining.

What's a small business owner looking for top quality employees to do? Here are some tips for recruiting staff that will increase your chances of attracting (and retaining) the people you need.

How to Recruit Employees for Small Business

1. Find out what the going rate is for the position and match it.

One common mistake small businesses make when creating a position is to base the salary on their budget rather than the market realities. Doing so only makes it more difficult to recruit employees at all, let alone attract top quality ones. If the starting salary for a retail sales person in your area normally makes $10 an hour, why would someone want to accept your $8.75 an hour job?

2. Offer ​an employee benefit program.

Employees consider an employee benefit program a necessity, not a perk and positions that offer benefits will always trump those that have none. On top of that, if you're going to attract high quality staff, your company needs to offer high quality benefits - and that means offering employees at least life, medical and dental coverage. If your small business does not have an employee benefits program, talk to your insurance company about setting one up.

One of the advantages of belonging to business organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, is that they offer more inexpensive insurance including employee benefit programs, so check with the organizations you belong to first to see if you're getting the best deal possible, so you can pass it on to your employees. (See also: Definition of Taxable Benefits in Canada and Employee Gifts as Tax Deductions in Canada.)

3. Make lifestyle part of your employee recruitment offer.

Many employees are just as concerned about the quality of life a position offers as they are about the amount of money it will bring in. If you’re fortunate enough to be located in an area with great skiing, beaches, extensive hiking/biking trails, excellent golf courses or other attractive features be sure to play them up when you’re trying to recruit employees.

That being said, be sure to promote a really great work-life balance for all your employees. Doing so not only makes for a great work environment, but your employees will also want to come in to work when they're allowed to have time off or don't have to take work home with them. Another benefit: it increases productivity, while cutting down costs related to absenteeism and bad work behavior.

4. Emphasize the benefits your small business offers.

Make your company more attractive to potential employees by offering things such as flexible hours and work at home options.

Among the more unusual benefits, some small businesses offer are being able to bring a pet to work, babysitting and childcare services, and allowing employees to power-nap during the day.

5. Be creative with perks.

As a small business, you may not be able to offer the perks large (corporate) companies are able to offer their employees, but you can offer a reasonable facsimile. For instance, many large companies offer on-site health facilities such as a fully-equipped gym. Chances are as a small business, you’re not going to be able to add one of these to your premises, but you could offer employees coupons to use local gym or spa facilities.

Some businesses also offer discounts to employees of neighboring establishments. Chat up your neighbors, suppliers and distributors to see how you can take advantage of discount programs for your employees. Not only will you be injecting money back into your local economy, you'll also be helping out other small businesses in the area. And your employees will likely appreciate saving a few extra bucks. (Read more about the Affordable Perks Your Small Business Can Offer Employees.)

6. Offer employees some way to move upwards.

Most employees aren't looking for jobs where they’ll do the same thing for the next thirty years. They're looking for positions that offer opportunities for advancement.

What will the position you're offering promise a new employee? The chance to develop new skills? A stepping stone to a position with more responsibilities? More money after a certain amount of time on the job? Whatever it is, be sure to get the future possibilities on the table when you're trying to recruit someone.

7. Create an employee incentive program.

Employee incentive programs not only reward good employee performance, but give prospective employees something to look forward to if they come work for you.

Whether it’s an annual company-paid retreat or a program where employees collect points that they can trade in for cash, employee incentive programs can increase your chances of attracting the people you want to hire.

8. Institute a profit sharing program.

There’s no better way to give employees a stake in a company’s success. For businesses that look like they’re going somewhere, profit sharing programs can be a powerful inducement to people to come work for you instead of for someone else.

While it may not for every business, you may still be able to find ways to help your employees take part in the business's profit - and feel like a valuable part of the team. After all, your employees are part of your business's success, so why not share it with them?

Something you'll want to consider before you try to establish a program is who will set it up, you or someone else? Once you know that, you should draft a plan, set up a trust, establish a record-keeping system and make sure you have a written plan you can offer employees.

The National Federation of Independent Business has an outline of setting up profit sharing for small businesses which may be in the form of regular bonuses. Be sure to check with a lawyer or expert to see if there's a way to start.

9. Sweeten the pot.

When competition for employees is fierce, a plain old signing bonus may be what’s needed to recruit the high quality employee you want and keep them from joining the competition.

If you choose to do this, keep in mind two important things in mind. The signing bonus has to be large enough to matter and the signing bonus has to be contingent upon a certain length of employment. Otherwise, you’ll be running a revolving door as people sign up, take the money and run.

10. Widen the scope of your advertising.

It’s not enough to place an ad in your local newspaper anymore. Your chances of attracting the employees you want will be much better if you broaden your advertising.

For examples, place ads on job websites and college/university campus boards. Advertise in other towns or cities. Go onto social media and advertise on Facebook and Twitter.

And if you have other employees, don’t forget to get them involved in the employee recruitment hunt. For example, you can offer signing bonuses to those who successfully refer a new employee.

Make Yours the Offer They Can't Refuse

There are qualified people who can do what you need done – you just need to attract them to the positions your small business is offering. Developing an employee recruitment policy based on the tips above will give you a better chance to recruit the high quality employees you’re looking for.

See also: 

6 Ways to Keep Your Employees Happy

The Pros and Cons of Hiring Employees vs Hiring Contractors

10 Employee Perks Your Small Business Can Afford 

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