It's a dog-eat-dog world when it comes to retaining skilled employees. How can a small company compete? By creating a positive corporate culture.
"Corporate culture has never been more important to today's job candidates and employees," says Lynn Taylor of Robert Half International Inc., parent company of temporary employment agency Accountemps. Corporate culture is the work environment you create: how relaxed your company is; whether it's ethics-based; and whether it provides such perks as flexible hours and child-care facilities. Perks don't need to cost money; Taylor suggests publicly congratulating employees or giving plumb assignments to top performers.
While perks are morale boosters, Daucey Brewington, CEO and owner of Northern NEF Inc., a computer and Internet products and services company in Colorado Springs, Colorado, discovered perks must be carefully structured. "I gave bonuses to our corporate staff," recalls Brewington, and he explained why upper-level executives received higher bonuses. But that didn't stop some employees from grumbling. The negativity eventually got so bad that Brewington discontinued giving bonuses and learned a valuable lesson in the process: No matter how you feel about your employees, you must objectively review each person's contribution.
In an informal survey, Entrepreneur discovered just how creative entrepreneurs get with perks. See the results above.
Brookdale Plastics Inc.
location: Plymouth, MN
Number of Employees: 53
Sales: $6.4 million (1997)
Perks: Reimburses any education costs; offers employees interest-free loans, flexible hours, and an annual reward for good ideas.
location: Lincolnshire, IL
Number of Employees: 22
Sales: $50 million (1997)
Perks: Profit sharing, overseas trips, annual summer resort jaunt
location: Kirkland, WA
Number of Employees: 45
Sales: $4.78 million (1996)
Perks: Flexible hours, profit-sharing, unlimited paid sick time, annual company baseball game
location: Aiken, SC
Number of Employees: 71
Sales: $7 million (1997)
Perks: Flexible hours, employees and families taken to minor league baseball games, six unused sick days can be accrued.
Brookdale Plastics, Inc., 9909 S. Shore Dr., Plymouth, MN 55441, (612) 797-1000
Ingear Corp., 175 Old Half Day Rd., Lincolnshire, IL 60069, (847) 821-9600
Intuitive Manufacturing Inc., (425) 821-0740, firstname.lastname@example.org
RCS Corp., (803) 641-0100, email@example.com
Robert Half International Inc., (650) 234-6000, http://www.rhii.com