Posted April 24, 2018

10 ways to attract high-quality employees

How to recruit employees for small business.

By Susan Ward

Economists maintain that future demographic trends will contribute to a shortage of high-quality employees and small business jobs will go begging. 

“The labor force is not increasing anymore and will not for the next few years. It will get much more difficult to hire people. Baby Boomers will be gone and millennials are taking over with different expectations,” says Pierre Cléroux of the Business Development of Canada (BDC).

But that doesn't mean that you should just give up on hiring any new staff because as a small business, you don’t have a chance of attracting high-quality employees. All things being equal, there are many people who would prefer to work for a small business.

These tips for attracting staff will up the odds of attracting (and retaining) the people you need.

1. Find out what the going rate is for the position and match it.
One common mistake small businesses make when creating a position is to base the salary on their budget rather than on the market realities – in effect making sure that employee recruitment efforts are going to be unsuccessful.

If a rental/sales person in a starting position in your area normally makes $10 an hour, why would someone want to accept that position in your company for $9 an hour?

2. Offer ‚Äčan employee benefit program.
In times when employees get to pick and choose, an employee benefit program moves from their wish list to their necessities list.

 If you're going to attract high quality staff, your company needs to offer high quality benefits and that means offering employees at least life, medical and dental coverage. If your small business does not have an employee benefits program, talk to your insurance company about setting one up.

One of the advantages of belonging to business organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, is that they offer less expensive insurance, including employee benefit program options. Check with the organizations you belong to first.

3. Make lifestyle part of your employee recruitment offer.
Many employees are just as concerned about the quality of life as they are about the amount of money a position offers. If you’re fortunate enough to be located in an area with great skiing, beaches, extensive hiking/biking trails, excellent golf courses or other attractive features, be sure to play them up when you’re recruiting employees.

4. Emphasize the benefits your small business offers.
Make your company more attractive to potential employees by offering things such as flexible hours or other options. Among the more unusual benefits some small businesses offer are being able to bring a pet to work and allowing employees to power-nap during the day.

5. Be creative with perks.
As a small business, you may not be able to offer the perks large corporate companies can offer their employees – but you may be able to offer a reasonable facsimile. For instance, many large companies offer on-site health facilities such as a fully equipped gym.

Chances are good that as a small business, you’re not going to be able to add one of these to your premises, but you could offer employees coupons to use local gym or spa facilities.

6. Offer employees opportunity to move upward.
Most employees aren't looking for jobs where they’ll do the same thing for the next 30 years. They're looking for positions that offer opportunities for advancement.

What does the position offer? The chance to develop new skills? A stepping stone to a position with more responsibilities? More money after a certain amount of time on the job? Whatever it is, in terms of attracting high quality staff, be sure to get the future possibilities on the table.

7. Create an employee incentive program.
Employee incentive programs not only reward good employee performance but give prospective employees something to look forward to if they come work for your company. Whether it’s an annual company-paid retreat or a program where employees collect points that they can trade in for cash, employee-incentive programs can increase your chances of attracting the people you want to hire.

8. Institute a profit sharing program.
It’s not for every business, but there’s no better way to give employees a stake in a company’s success. For businesses that look like they’re going somewhere, profit sharing programs can be a powerful inducement to come work for you instead of for someone else.

9. Sweeten the pot.
When competition for employees is fierce, a plain old signing bonus may be what’s needed to attract the high-quality employee you want and get that person to work for you rather than for some other company.

If you choose to do this, there are two things to keep in mind. The signing bonus has to be large enough to matter, and has to be contingent upon a certain amount of time of employment. Otherwise, you’ll be running a revolving door as people sign up, take the money and run.

10. Widen the scope of your advertising.
It’s not enough to place an ad in the Help Wanted section of the local newspaper anymore; your chances of attracting the employees you want will be much better if you broaden your advertising. Place ads in places such as job web sites and college/university campus boards, for example. Advertise in other towns or cities.

And if you have other employees, don’t forget to get them involved in the employee recruitment hunt. You can, for example, offer signing bonuses to those who successfully refer a new employee.

Make an offer they can't refuse
There are qualified people out there who can do what you need done – you just need to attract them to the positions your small business is offering. Developing an employee recruitment policy based on the tips above will give you a better chance of attracting the high quality employees you’re looking for.

Susan Ward is a business writer and experienced business person; she and her partner run Cypress Technologies, an IT consulting business, providing services such as software and database development. She has also run her own business as a computer/software instructor. Email her at