Even the smartest business strategy can mean nothing without the talent to carry it out. That's why attracting skilled and motivated employees is so important for companies just starting out.
It takes a certain type of person to join a startup. The ideal candidates can demonstrate risk tolerance and flexibility, as their roles are bound to evolve with the changing needs of the business. Those that combine talent with the ability to roll up their sleeves to get the job done, even if it isn't technically theirs, are the ones you’ll want with you in the trenches.
These people are out there, but it can be a challenge to not only find them but also make the case for them to join your business instead of another one.
No two job candidates are alike, but a competitive salary and benefits will be deciding factors for most every prospective employee. However, several other factors can come into play. Entrepreneurs are typically in the enviable position to be able to create a company culture of their own making.
Related: How to Attract Top Candidates Without Posting to Job Boards
Here are some ways to create a culture that excites and entices prospective employees:
Make it flexible. Having a work-life balance is one of top priorities for any employee. Offering the freedom to work from home a certain number of days a month, or "summer Fridays," the perk of a shorter workday on Fridays in exchange for an extra hour each of the other days of the week, can help show that your company values its employees. Not only can this help attract employees, but it can also go a long way in developing loyalty.
Give back. More than ever, people are concerned with giving back to society, and having an employer that helps them do so is a plus. Let employees get involved by voting for a cause that the company will support and have them suggest different ways to help through on-site volunteering, fundraisers or other options. You may also want to consider creating a program where employees who are interested can take off one or two days per month to volunteer for a cause that’s more personal to them.
Related: How to Hire Superstar Employees
Be accessible. On a smaller staff, leaders can often interact with employees of all levels. For many prospective employees, that access can be a strong selling point. You can also consider creating a series of “lunches with leadership” on a regular basis where a small group of employees can meet with you, or one-on-one if your business is smaller, so you can listen to concerns and answer questions about where the business if going.
Provide growth plans. The best employees want to be at a company where they can advance their career, and from the start they need to be assured that there is room for that to happen. Develop a formal training program where they can learn the skills they need to move up, so they don’t move out to learn it.
Give them a piece of the pie. Smaller businesses may not be able to offer competitive matching 401(k) plans, so you may want to instead consider a profit-sharing program. It helps employees feel a literal sense of ownership of the company and gives them extra incentive to work as hard as possible to ensure its success.
Reward with awards. Many large companies have formal employee-recognition programs on a quarterly or even monthly basis, so give your workers that same respect. Whether it’s “Employee of the Month” or “Best Sales Record,” these awards are a way to boost employee morale -- and with a relatively small monetary prize -- their wallets, too.
Starting a business is not an easy endeavor, and there are many reasons why some fail and others succeed. But what is universal is that no company can succeed without a strong workforce, and one where employees really believe in the company’s mission and culture can make it even stronger. Creating an environment that values employees and allows them to learn and grow will attract the most talented employees -- and contribute significantly to your company’s success.
Nichole Spaight is a vice president at Adecco Staffing US, working with small- and midsize-business owners on effective work-force strategies.