How to Attract Top Talent When You Can't Pay a Lot

Posted on 11th Sep, 2019 by Bonnie

Regardless of the state of the economy, employees in especially competitive fields can be more selective when it comes to securing a new position. Small business owners face the challenging dilemma of attracting and retaining top talent without the ability to offer higher salaries. Without the name recognition and deep pockets of a larger company, how can you persuade high performers to come and work for you?


While you should always aim to keep your compensation competitive, there are plenty of non-monetary benefits you can provide to attract top talent and retain your current high performers. We’ll walk you through five of the most compelling methods that savvy small business owners have used to attract and retain their best employees in competitive industries.


1. Market Your Best Attributes

At a small company, your employees will likely get a lot of facetime with executives, receive personalized training and have the opportunity to advance, all while being treated like family. You might even have an accelerated path to promotion for interested and highly capable staff. There’s a lot to love about working for a small company, so take a moment to examine your day-to-day life and how it differs from working for a large corporation. Can you imagine yourself as a happy, highly motivated employee of your own company? What would you like about it and what would you love about it? These are the features you need to highlight front and center in your job advertisements. However, make sure to paint an accurate picture of your company, otherwise you’ll be doing a disservice to those who expected something else from your glowing description.


2. Offer Flexible Schedules

Your employees all have lives outside of work, so you have to respect and support their personal responsibilities. A flexible schedule is a highly coveted benefit for people of all ages. It can be particularly desirable for students and those with families, as well as people who just value work-life balance above all else. Moreover, you want to be competitive with other large companies that offer some schedule flexibility.


If your staff is able to complete work at any time of the day, consider putting your office on a staggered flexible schedule. Other variations of this would be compressed four-day work weeks or remote-flexible days. You can still set some boundaries, but if your employees have the resources they need and are equally productive with an adjusted schedule, this is one of the most valued non-monetary job benefits you can offer.


3. Allow Employees to Explore Their Own Interests

In a typical small business environment, employees have more responsibilities than those who work in a large, established corporation simply due to fewer staff on hand. This can lead to less specialization and more generalization of job-related skills. Not having the time or freedom to diversify job responsibilities can lead to burnout. Similarly, you want to nurture your employees’ desires for growth and for leading fulfilling lives.


You can combat this job fatigue by letting your employees use some work time to pursue their own interests, whether that be a specific role within the company, learning a new skill or something else entirely. Giving your staff some personal time to develop themselves also shows them that you’re interested in their personal and professional successes.


4. Emphasize Training and Development

Some entrepreneurs don’t actually train their employees; they either don’t have a developed training plan or go with the “sink or swim” mentality. While this may work for some positions, it doesn’t reflect well on a business owner. Training your employees to do their jobs to the best of their abilities shows that you care.


Moreover, as an employer, you’re able to use tax credits to help your employees pursue education. But not all employers offer this generous benefit to their employees. Make your staff’s education and development a priority; you’ll help your own business improve while also improving your employees’ overall quality of life.


5. Promote From Within

If your staff knows that they have no room to advance within your company, this can easily cause a negative ripple effect that trickles down to your new hires. Without the ability to advance, your top staff can lose a great deal of ambition to excel in their current roles. Similarly, if your prospective employees have done research on your company, they can likely tell that a new executive has been hired from the outside. Whenever possible, look to fill higher roles by promoting and supporting your existing staff. Promoting existing staff shows that you’re more invested in nurturing talent rather than outsourcing it.


As a small business owner, you look for people who can do their jobs well, but you also need people you legitimately get along with. When interviewing candidates, make sure to take the time to get to know the person behind the resume and responsibilities, and also to let them get to know you. When you’re honest about the expectations, responsibilities and overall culture, finding the right person will be easier on everyone.


About Bonnie

Bonnie is a Chicago transplant who's committed to seeing the world on a dime. As an avid news junkie with an affinity for finance, she loves to help others do more with less.