As a small business owner, you know that today’s employees have different expectations than they did five years ago. They’re looking for flexibility, more work/life balance, and innovative perks.
Fortunately, the antidote to a demanding labour market may be standing right in front of you. Your best employees already have the skills and knowledge to make your business more successful. Here are a 3 essential tips to help you retain top talent and keep employees engaged and motivated.
1. Flex in the right direction
Workers are looking for flexibility. This includes alternatives to the nine-to-five workday, compressed workweeks and work-from-home alternatives. According to the International Labour Organization1, flexible work schedules improve job satisfaction, performance and commitment to a company, which, in turn, increases productivity. But not all companies can flex in the same ways. As a small business; you have the benefit of being quick to respond and fast to implement. Consider these ideas:
Extend long weekends
Tack an extra day to each long weekend. Suppliers and customers will adjust expectations once they know this is your new routine. They may even take your lead and offer it to their teams.
Implement peak-and-valley hours
Seasonal businesses can consider a shorter work week during non-peak seasons to give your team a break in preparation for the busier seasons ahead.
Offer staggered shifts
Providing some flexibility around start and finish times can keep most of your crew on deck for the bulk of the day.
2. Go beyond the paycheque
Competitive pay is expected. Employees are looking for the benefits and perks that sweeten the deal and this is where you can gain a competitive advantage. Explore these options for making work more rewarding for your team.
Offer group benefits
Small and medium-sized businesses can now offer the kind of group savings and benefits packages that can compete with what big companies offer and sometimes be even more customizable.
Survey your team and act on their feedback
If you’re not sure what perks your team wants, ask them. It’s easy to create a confidential employee survey to identify gaps in your total benefits plan.
Encourage healthy living
Set up a health and wellness plan that reimburses people for things like massage therapy, gym memberships, or ergonomic equipment that makes working from home safer and more productive.
3. Invest in the future of others
Top performers want to keep their skills sharp. Before you go looking for new talent, think about the people you already employ, who may be ready to challenge themselves with a new role. Here are a few ways to create a culture of learning.
Cross-train staff to relieve stress
Some tasks are specialized but many are shareable. By cross-training your people, you create a backup plan for those days when someone calls in sick or goes on vacation. In the process, you’re helping everyone to broaden their understanding of how the business works.
Set up formal mentoring
Many highly skilled workers appreciate the opportunity to mentor the next generation of creators. This well-established practice can breathe new life into modern businesses and go a long way to building relationships that keep people engaged.
Assign stretch tasks
A stretch assignment lets someone step outside of their normal role and try their hand at something new. As much as they stand to benefit from learning new things, the company gets the benefit of fresh thinking.
Where to start
Not all businesses can flex and bend in the same way. Finding the right combination of pay, perks, and growth opportunities is going to come down to how you operate and the nature of your team. For inspiration, check out how the co-owners of Nu Grocery found innovative ways to recruit, train, and retain a highly functioning team of like-minded co-workers dedicated to zero-waste grocery shopping.