How to Attract and Keep the Best Employees

How small businesses can get an edge on the big guys.

Sabrina Starling, PhD, PCC, BCC
The Business Psychologist™ and author of How to Hire the Best specializes in transforming life- and cash-sucking businesses into highly profitable, Great Places to Work!  

If you struggle to attract qualified applicants, you're not alone.

But as a small business, you may be able to offer the one thing top-tier talent values more than anything else— true work/life balance.

What do the best employees want? (Hint: It's not always about the money)
If you've been assuming it's "better pay," you may be surprised to learn that's not the only way to attract and keep great people. In fact, money only goes so far as an incentive.

Small businesses are much better positioned than larger companies to meet the work/life balance needs of their employees.
Why? Small business owners can flexibly address work/life balance with their employees. Larger organizations tend to take a "one-size" fits all approach to this issue, which is very frustrating for employees.

According to Stewart Friedman, professor of Management and the founding director of the Wharton School's Leadership Program, "It's not an uncommon problem in many HR areas where, for the sake of equality, there's a standard policy that is implemented in a way that is universally applicable - [even though] - everyone's life is different and everyone needs different things in terms of how to integrate the pieces. It's got to be customized."

Many of the successful business owners I have interviewed for my book, How to Hire the Best, are doing just that, but not in a formalized way. It's just who they are. They care about their employees when various circumstances arise in the lives of their employees.

If this is something you are already doing, it's time to "toot your own horn" and make it more widely know that this is a benefit of working for you.

Did you know nearly 70% of employees are not fully engaged?

Facts about top performers

  • You can expect that about 10% of the population are ‘A-Players’ (i.e., the motivated, resourceful, problem-solving, go-getters you want working for you!).
  • One top-performing employee is 900-1200% more productive than a warm body.
  • The average employee is discontent, under-utilized and not actualizing their potential.

3 secrets for hiring top talent:

  1. Clarify the One Result.
    Before you hire a new employee, ask yourself “if this person can do nothing for me but one thing in a given day or week, what is that one thing?” Next, get crystal clear about that one thing ties into the profitability of your business.
  2. Envision Your Ideal Employee.
    Imagine what kind of person you need to consistently deliver you that one result—day-in and day-out. The # 1 competency that you need to hire for is resourcefulness. That is what differentiates the A player from the rest of the employee population.
  3. Build an employee Referral Incentive Program.
    A players always hang out with each other. Reach out to your current A-player employees and ask who they know who fits the personality traits and core values you’re looking for. Offer an incentive program to your A players, not your warm bodies.
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