Can small businesses compete for talent?


A business’ workforce can give it a competitive advantage in terms of innovation, productivity, remaining relevant (spotting trends and adapting to them), and consistency in producing high-quality goods and services. In order to attract skilled and talented individuals in a fiercely competitive marketplace, the company’s existing employees can be a small business’ best weapon.

Through their interactions with customers, suppliers, friends, and family, employees act as the small business’ ambassadors and can be instrumental in securing additional human resources. They are living proof that the business delivers on its promises to employees and treats them well. Small business owners who invest in the training and development of their employees to the extent they are able to, offer real career advancement opportunities, and have attractive fringe benefits are therefore likely to be thought of and spoken of favorably by their employees, helping to build positive perceptions in the marketplace.

It is also more likely that satisfied employees will stay longer with the business, and be more committed to making the business a success. Another strategy small businesses can adapt to attract talent is to offer market-related salaries and bonuses (e.g. signing on and performance bonuses). These should then be reviewed on an on-going basis once an employee has joined the organization.

Depending on the stage of development of their business and prevailing economic conditions however, some small business owners may face constraints in this regard. Where this is the case, it may be better to emphasize the non-financial attributes of the organization that is likely to appeal to current and prospective employees.

Effective, low-cost tools that a small business can use to advertise job opportunities and recruit new employees to include word-of-mouth (relying on the business owner’s and employees’ personal and business contacts), the company’s website, social networking platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn, and posters on university campuses.

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