Talent is one of the biggest predictors of your business or team’s success. But in the increasingly competitive labor market, it’s becoming harder and harder to attract and retain top performers. This whole setup sends a lot of small businesses into a tailspin. After all, when you’re small, how can you possibly create a compensation, benefits, or perks package that can compete with the bigger companies, so why even try?
Well, for one thing, if you get this wrong, you’re going to be completely out in the cold when it comes to attracting great talent. Worst case scenario, you fail to innovate in this area and you become unable to offer an attractive compensation package to potential prospects. Or, even worse, you lose your current workforce as they go somewhere that is offering them the compensation and perks they want.
That all sounds pretty grim … but it can be much easier (and cheaper) than you think to make your business stand out from the competition.
Start by looking at the competition.
What are other companies in your industry sector offering? What about benefits and perks? If you don’t already know, and you’re not sure how to find out, there’s one very easy thing you can do: ask.
Ask candidates where they’re currently at in terms of compensation, ask new hires about their benefits, nose around at networking events and ask people what the latest hot perk is. And don’t forget to ask your staff — they won’t be shy in telling you what they would love to see at the company! And failing all that, you can always do some careful Googling to see what’s happening in your pool of competition.
Once you have an idea of the kinds of things going around, it’s time to look inwards.
After you’ve gotten a good understanding of what your competition is offering and what your workforce wants, then you should start to think about how to position yourself correctly in the marketplace. You can always look at traditional compensation changes, but there are also loads of non-traditional perks that can be really powerful, including:
As in, flexible scheduling, the option to telecommute, or creating a results-oriented workplace.
Opportunities for Growth
Including things like a professional development budget, succession planning, or access to an executive coach or mentor.
Vacation/Paid Time Off (PTO)
If you can, think about providing a generous vacation/PTO policy. World at Work reported that they average PTO plan starts at 16 days per year and that average employers offer 9 paid holidays annually. Here are the paid holidays that I recommend:
- New Year’s Day
- Memorial Day
- 4th of July
- Labor Day
- Thanksgiving Day
- Christmas Day
- 3 Floating Holidays (for any use such as Good Friday, Christmas Eve, the day after Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, etc.).
If you can’t swing that, then try for something like paid time off for volunteering.
Food and Beverages
This is one of the easiest things you can do to make your office a better place to work, so think about things like having an office coffee and beverage program, providing snacks (like this one), or doing something like a team lunch provided by the office on Fridays.
Health and Wellness
This is also an extremely popular area for perks, so consider getting an office gym membership, bringing in masseuses for in-office chair massages, or even offering wellness classes or lunch and learns.
At the very least…
OK, so maybe the in-office chair massages are outside of your budget for now. But at the very least, you should consider adding something to your perks to stay ahead. Some of the perks I listed above are very low cost and provide a huge return on investment. For instance, flexible hours and telecommuting.
Remember, when you’re treading water in a pool of sharks, your total compensation can make a great bite proof cage — that is to say, you’ll find it much easier to attract, recruit and retain your workforce when your total compensation is elevated. So take a look at your current compensation, benefits, and perks, and see what you can do!
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Amy McGeachy, PHR is an HR Consultant specializing in cultivating exceptional workplaces for her clients who are mostly small + medium businesses. Amy is the founder of The Exceptional Workplace a premium eLetter for conscientious business leaders. She is a certified HR Professional (PHR) through the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) and a Certified Coach through the Coach Training Alliance (CTA) and a member of the International Coaching Federation (ICF). Amy works with businesses in the areas of training, recruitment, employee relations, and strategic HR.