One of my contacts worked for a young, growing company that paid top dollar for software engineers in preparation for the day that they would be needed to meet client demand. When she expressed concern about the overspending, one partner told her that if she was in charge, the company would be defunct in a year. Six months later, their doors closed forever.
That partner was not wrong in recognizing the need for exceptionally-skilled workers. The error was in seeing spending as the only way to attract and keep the best talent. Large corporations may have ready cash to pay top wages and benefits, but small business owners can attract and keep the finest employees through their entrepreneurial spirit. Here are some great ways to get your workers involved in your business vision and develop a relationship that few big businesses can match.
Offer Creative Compensation
Economic downturns may create a buyer’s market for hiring, but that doesn’t mean that the most skilled applicants will agree to take a position that offers substandard incentives. You may not have the funds to pay a top salary when making an offer — or even when it’s time for an annual review. But as a small business, your company can offer achievement-based bonuses that can really motivate your employees while increasing your revenues. So, when certain sales reps are responsible for accelerated sales or when engineers enhance a product to make it more attractive to the marketplace, make sure that they receive their fair share of the profits.
Encourage Active Involvement in the Company
Choosing to work for a small company carries certain inherent risks, but it also offers benefits that cannot be matched by working for a huge organization. When you welcome and act on employee ideas and suggestions, your employees become partners who recognize their unique value to the company as they work alongside you to realize shared goals.
Make sure to listen to their feedback and acknowledge them too- the value of these soft incentives is highly underrated—not to mention easy for small business owners to embrace.
Give Employees the Power to Spread Their Wings
I know a writer who worked for many small software businesses, enlisting her full creativity to develop low-cost, but award-winning manuals. When she moved to a large company, she vehemently complained that she no longer wrote documentation, so much as manufactured it in accordance with strict, detailed procedures. She didn’t last long in this position.
Big businesses need to put their employees in specific boxes and keep them there to get their allotted portion of the job done. As a business owner, you know that one of the greatest rewards comes with seeing a project through from beginning to final results. Employees can feel that same sense of satisfaction and accomplishment — if you empower them to take on this type of challenge. As they stretch their abilities, be available to provide upfront and ongoing guidance as needed, but give them latitude to do it their way. As their abilities grow from new experiences, their investment in the company’s interests will grow as well.
Praise in Public
A job well done deserves praise and your employees never mind being called to your office to receive your personal kudos. But when employees receive your commendations at a company meeting or in front of a customer who benefitted from their hard work, they clearly see their true value. Naturally, public praise helps inspire all employees, but it also lets your customers recognize how the depth of your products and services helps them get the attention and consideration they deserve.
Promote from Within
When a key position opens up in your company, always look first to the members of the team that work hard for you every day. Granted, some positions require very specific educational requirements not available in your organization, such as a degree in accounting. But remember that your staff members already have a solid foundation and a deeper understanding of your company culture and how things work. You probably have to spend time and effort training employees in new concepts and procedures. Or, they may need to take a class or two to obtain additional knowledge. But you can’t teach loyalty and dedication, and these traits grow even more when you reward them with advancement.
No large company can match the excitement employees experience going in to a job where they know that they make a vital difference every day. As their efforts help grow your business, make sure you help them continue to grow as well.