To build a successful business, you need to bring in skilled, experienced professionals who have the energy, drive, and ideas to take your company forward.
How can you compete with the recruitment campaigns, salaries, and benefits that bigger companies offer candidates? Don’t underestimate the smaller-company value — that money can’t buy and larger companies simply can’t match — you can bring to potential employees.
Here are six practical steps to help you attract and retain top talent:
1. Let candidates know they can make a real difference
At smaller firms, workers wear different ‘hats’ and get a greater variety of experiences than most larger companies are able to provide. They have a say in guiding company strategy and develop deeper skill sets that pay greater dividends down the line. Employees aren’t just cogs in the machine: they have more responsibility and can see the impact their work has.
ACTION STEP #1:
Let your best employees take an active part in your company’s decision-making and strategic direction. Ensure these opportunities are clearly reflected in your job ads.
2. Encourage autonomy and allow faster career development
Smaller companies are typically less bureaucratic than larger ones, and having fewer employees means you can give everyone better insight into how they fit into the company’s overall growth strategy. Top talents crave challenging work and can make a real difference to your company’s performance.
ACTION STEP #2:
- Reward talented individuals with a degree of autonomy to add value to the business as they see fit. They may choose to do things differently from you, but as long as they deliver results, give them space to maneuvre and grow.
- Talk to employees about their ambitions and give them assignments that propel their careers forward. Provide people with consistent feedback and help them to understand what they need to do to advance to the next level. Let them explore new opportunities, whether that is seeking promotion or moving laterally to a position with different challenges.
3. Offer flexible working conditions
Another potential benefit your company can offer is flexibility — both in terms of time and location. As long as the work gets done, it doesn’t always matter where an employee does it — whether from the office, at home, or while the baby is sleeping. Many employees will forego working at bigger, better-known companies for this kind of flexibility. One study found that good work-life balance, the opportunity to work remotely, and flexible benefits are among the top reasons employees both choose, and stay at, a company. 2
ACTION STEP #3:
Allow talented people to customise their working day and operate remotely where appropriate. This way, you’ll be able to hire great people who may otherwise not consider you. Promote these flexible perks on your career page, in your job descriptions, and on your Glassdoor profile.
4. Speed up your hiring
The best candidates get snapped up quickly. Your hiring processes need to be fast to catch your top choices before they look elsewhere. Larger companies can be slow, taking months to hire. You can be more agile: make the top candidates feel wanted by quickly getting to know them on a personal level, and making them feel they’re already part of the team.
ACTION STEP #4:
- Ensure your job ads are clear and appealing, and hosted on the job sites that deliver the type of candidates you’re looking for.
- Once you’ve chosen your top applicants, accommodate their busy schedules by interviewing early in the morning, during lunch breaks, afternoons, or even weekends. Conduct telephone interviews or video calls.
- When candidates arrive at your office for face-to-face interviews, save time by including other hiring decision-makers in the process. Circulate feedback as soon as possible and never leave your candidates in the dark.
5. Build a strong employer brand
Just as your products or services have a brand, so too does your company as an employer. Building an attractive employer brand is essential: if you have a poor reputation, the best candidates will stay away. Create stories to help prospective candidates understand what it’s like to work at your organisation. Talk about what you’ve accomplished and get them excited about what the future has in store.
ACTION STEP #5:
Establish your company’s values and include these in your vision and mission statements. Share these on your website and make sure you actively market your employer brand on social media channels and job sites like Glassdoor. Glassdoor also lets you add photos and videos, share recent company news, customise your ‘Why Work for Us’ section, access your company analytics, and much more.
6. Make your current employees your ambassadors
Did you know that the most trusted form of advertising, besides a personal recommendation, is an online review? In fact, 4 in 5 job seekers research company reviews and ratings before deciding where to apply for a job.6 Glassdoor is a leading destination for candidates to research companies and find authentic employee feedback. Our tracking studies show that in the UK, the smaller the company, the more likely it is that candidates will view it on Glassdoor. Job seekers already have a sense of who big organisations are and what they do. If you’re a smaller business, it’s possible that your ideal candidates won’t have heard of you.
ACTION STEP #6:
Ask your current employees to visit Glassdoor to share their reviews of what it’s really like to work for your company. This shows your employees that you’re listening and that you’re committed to become a better company. A review on a job site may be the first thing candidates see before deciding whether to apply for a role at your organisation. Always respond to reviews, whether good and bad, to share your perspective as an employer.
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1. Source: Glassdoor Economic Research, Why Do Workers Quit? The Factors That Predict Employee Turnover, February 2017
2. Source: Glassdoor Site Survey, August 2017;
3. Source: Glassdoor Site Survey, August 2017;
4. Source: Aptitude Research Partners, August 2017;
5. Glassdoor Internal UK Research, Apr-Jun 2018. Open to new opportunities includes those that browse through job listings;
6. Glassdoor, Harris Poll, April 2017