It’s more than great pay and benefits

January 7, 2016

A gathering of 60 small business owners recently attended a Chamber of Commerce luncheon. The topic was “Recruiting and Retaining the Best People.” The topic made sense, but the direction of the presentation and discussion took quite a turn.

The small business owners in attendance had a similar concern: How can we compete with the large employers in the area that can offer wonderful benefit packages, great wages and growth opportunities? The answer was simple: that may not be possible. However, remember that the large employers cannot hire everybody. Nor, does everyone want to work for a large employer.

Proof in point.

Recently a student from the University of Minnesota gave an excellent graduation commencement speech. He shared a story of how he broke his arm when he was four years old. He put on a red cape and jumped off the top of the stairs, thinking he could fly like Superman. The red cape did not give him super powers. He then went on to explain that the diploma he was about to receive would not give him super powers. The super powers associated with his diploma came from the blood, sweat and tears that made up the essence of his degree. He had everyone laughing—and in tears. His message was amazing.

After the ceremony, at the social, he was asked where he was going to start his career. With pride, he stated he landed a job in information technology as a consultant, and was fortunate enough to also be offered a nice signing bonus. He was very anxious to start, but added that his dream job was to work for Google, and if Google provided him an offer, he would follow that dream.

Four months later, not only was he at Google, but he also decided it was not for him and was in Washington D.C. with a job in information technology working for a government agency. Google was great, but he realized career growth would be slow. As he went on to explain, the best and the brightest are there and he would just be another face in the crowd.

So what can you do?

As finding the right people becomes more difficult, you need to realize there is a lot you can do to lure and secure your perfect candidate:

  • Be known as a great employer.
  • Realize that your people are your most valuable resource. Don’t just say it, show it!
  • Find ways to have your employees “engaged” in the business. Today’s employees want to be decision makers and have a stake in the success of a company.
  • Offer the opportunity to learn and grow. The simplicity of cross training can quench the thirst.
  • One more simple action. Can you guess what it is?

Showing you value employees goes a long way

A boss of a small manufacturing company asked the person in human resources why everybody smiled and waved as the HR person walked through the plant. Somewhat surprised, the HR person responded, “Because they know I am interested in them as people and not just employees.”

The boss continued seeking information on how much time the HR representative spent with the employees. Twenty to 45 seconds was fairly typical. The boss then asked, “What do you talk about?”

The HR representative responded, “Life in general. For example, Bob went to his first Packers game and I asked him what he enjoyed most about the experience. Mary is an aunt for the first time, so I wanted to know how the mom and baby are doing. Simple stuff.”

The boss did take notice. Approximately three months later, the HR representative needed to conduct an exit interview with an employee who accepted a position working closer to home. They were saddened to see the person leave, but understood as the commute was relatively long.

The departing employee was asked, “What was the best part of working here?” Without hesitation and with a smile on her face, she stated, “It happened a couple of weeks earlier. The boss of the company actually asked if I had a nice weekend! No boss, anywhere, has ever asked me if I had a nice weekend.”

So what can you do? One word: care.

Too often we become too wrapped up in what we believe is important in running the business or doing our jobs. What is important? Creating an atmosphere where people want do their best, and offer an “owner mentality.” A common request to employees is to treat the business as your own. Let’s give them reason to do so.

Schenck’s Human Resources consultants have decades of experience developing leaders. Contact any member of Schenck’s Human Resources Consulting team at 800-236-2246 to get started.