How Small Businesses Can Attract And Retain Top Talent In A Changing Remote Landscape

For the longest time, just using the words “fully remote position” was enough for some small businesses to be flooded with resumes from top talent. Now, with big names such as Twitter and Slack embracing remote work for the long-term, this will likely no longer be the case.

Such massive changes in the remote landscape might have some small-business owners wondering what they can do to prepare themselves. After all, larger organizations might be able to offer various career paths, higher salaries, fully paid medical and dental benefits, unlimited vacation, equipment, paid-for internet, covered accounting costs and so much more. If the recruiting space is now filled with such employers, how can a small organization compete?

The answer is simple: it can’t. At least, it can’t compete directly. And it could be financially disastrous to try.

Does that mean small businesses have to sit back, wait and be grateful for whatever leftovers come their way? Absolutely not. Small organizations have a lot to offer, and I believe they should focus on showcasing their strengths to attract top talent:

Attracting Top Talent

Employees in small companies can develop diverse skill sets. 

Just like not everyone aims to live in the downtown core of a big city, not everyone is interested in working in a large corporation.

In smaller organizations, there’s an opportunity for closeness across positions that is usually only possible at the team level in larger ones. This can lead a team member in a small business to being exposed to knowledge they might not have been able to gain otherwise. Encouraging the team to talk to one another about their challenges, what they love the most about what they do and what is involved in their day-to-day tasks might inspire some to develop new skills or even change careers.

Everyone lives the company’s vision every day. 

When an organization is large, it can be hard to ensure everyone is living the vision, mission and values. Unfortunately, this might result in a workplace that is not quite “as advertised.” On the outside, the company might appear conscientious, employee-focused and balanced, but on the inside, it might be total chaos.

In smaller workplaces, it’s easier to keep a direct pulse on how the days and weeks unfold. It also tends to be more quickly noticed when there’s a disconnect between what the team aims to “feel” like as a group and the daily reality. This allows team leaders to rapidly correct course before it becomes a habit and harder to change.

Employees are close to the impact of their work. 

Top talent knows they’re in demand, which means, in my experience, they tend to be picky about where they apply. Often, they will want to make sure their own personal values and desires for self-accomplishment line up with an organization’s purpose.

In larger companies, even when the mission is commendable, it can be harder for every employee to see and feel the impact of their work. Smaller teams often work directly with the client or consumer. That provides the satisfaction of seeing first-hand the relief or gratitude in the client’s eyes. For some, that is a great motivator that also brings immense job satisfaction.

Retaining Top Talent

When it comes to retaining top talent, there are a few important things for leaders to keep in mind:

Plan to let them fly.

In my experience, unless a small organization is growing rapidly, there’s usually less of an opportunity for mentorship from more senior members and not much of a career path. Because of this, I suggest planning for turnover.

Yes, frequent turnover can be costly. But by being open with team members about their aspirations and finding ways to support them, it may be possible to put in place systems to make turnover more efficient. Things such as a way to ensure an easy transfer of knowledge, having some form of replacement training process and keeping detailed information on tasks in shared areas all ease the burden.

Be as generous as possible while being fiscally responsible. 

Larger organizations often can offer higher salaries. But as long as the wage is fair for the work performed, I’ve found some professionals will prefer to take a bit less salary in exchange for more intangible perks, such as more flexibility, ability to try new tasks, autonomy and the opportunity to work with/learn from specialized colleagues.

Smaller organizations can also show team members they really value them and their contribution by sending them swag, gift cards, a toy for their kids, providing individualized career coaching or an introduction to a potential mentor or contact. And it’s a good idea to ask people what would make them feel appreciated. Not everyone values the same things, just like not everyone values the same size organization.

By informing one and all about what makes them special, small businesses can in fact still be quite mighty even in this changing remote hiring landscape.


Originally appeared on Forbes Business Council.


50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.