How Small Businesses Can Attract and Retain Top Talent

Hiring employees is just the start. To create a strong work force, you have to figure out how to keep them. High employee turnover results in high costs in time and productivity. Studies show that salaries are no longer the leading factor in attracting and retaining employees. Today things like health insurance, sufficient paid time off, and small perks such as flexibility, telecommuting, free lunch, etc. can be in greater demand than dollars. A beefy benefits package with great health coverage and nice amenities can go far to create an attractive company culture that lures and retains today’s top talent.


Benefits are often cited as an integral component of employee satisfaction. In MetLife’s most recent annual trends survey, they found that approximately 49% of employees polled said benefits were an important reason they went to work for a company, while 60% said benefits are their reason for staying. A 2011 study deemed health insurance the most important benefit by 90% of employees.


Cost and compliance of benefits packages may seem daunting for small-business owners but experts agree they are worth it, in terms of long-term retention. According to studies, employers typically begin looking at benefits packages when they grow to 6 to 10 employees. There are many different options of insurance packages, depending on what you want to provide, what you can afford, and the size of your organization. Once things like medical and dental insurance and a retirement plan are in place, it’s fairly easy and cost-effective to add peripherals such life and vision insurance and long and/or short-term disability. Insurance brokers or employee benefits consultants, such as Employers Advantage, can help business owners understand and evaluate various products and packages to help decide what is right for your organization.


As the employee pool becomes younger, healthier, and more technologically advanced, one benefit that’s becoming extremely popular is flexibility. Flexible work schedules or the flexibility to telecommute all, or some of the time are often cited as a game changer. The term work/life balance has become commonplace in employee circles because with so many personal demands on workers, a flexible schedule is a huge plus in any benefits package.  Having the

flexibility they need to manage their work and personal lives would be extremely important when looking for a new job.  


Lastly, a fairly inexpensive benefit that can go a long way is providing some small perks or amenities such as free bagels and snacks, dry-cleaning pickup and delivery, and employee socials. While these amenities may seem insignificant to business owners, they can help employees manage their busy lives. Also, it’s these types of benefits that employees will brag about to their friends and associates which, in turn, paints an attractive picture of your company culture. This is how you can become an employer of choice, to grow your candidate pool, for a fairly low expenditure.


To determine a benefits package that best fits your business you should conduct ‘stay interviews.’ It’s important to find out what your employees really want. Employee interests vary depending on business size, industry and demographics so you want to offer things that employees will utilize. Consider asking longer-tenured employees why they came, why they stay, why they would consider leaving, and what could be changed or improved. Then use that information to enhance your employee retention strategies.