If you’ve been struggling to attract qualified applicants to fill open positions in your business, rest assured, you are not alone. In fact, many small business owners across the country have this struggle as they compete with corporate America for talent.
As a small business owner, you have an opportunity to shine as an employer in your community by getting to know the unique needs of your employees, and working with them to balance their performance at work with other areas of their life that are important to them.
Just what do the best employees want? If you’ve been assuming it’s “better pay,” you may be surprised to learn that better pay is not the only way to attract and keep great employees. In fact, money only goes so far as an incentive for employees.
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 rural business owners I have interviewed for my upcoming book are doing just that, but not in a formalized way. It’s just who they are. They care about their employees and want to support them when challenging circumstances arise in their lives. 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.
Mike Bailey, owner of Bailey Enterprises in Riverton, Wyoming shares one way his business helps his employees with work/life balance:
“We try to create an environment where we’re flexible enough that we can work with people’s schedules to a point. We still need people to come to work every day, but we’ve got people sharing daycare with each other. We have one lady who works evenings and one lady who works mornings. They watch each other’s kids sometimes. This helps us gain those employees who maybe wouldn’t be here if we weren’t that flexible. We’ve got employees whose spouse works a certain time of day, so the employee needs to work different times of the day so that they can take turns watching their kids. There are lots of families out there with multiple income earners. That’s part of what we have to workaround. We’re flexible, helping people find solutions to some of those issues we all have in our lives.”
Take Action: Make time for conversations with your employees to find out what matters to them. This goes a long way toward creating a culture where employees feel connected, appreciated, and supported by you in thriving in all areas of their lives.
Reference: John Keyser. Are We Happy Yet: How coaching is improving workplace morale? Choice Volume 11, Number 4. pp 19-20. December 2013