You Don't Have to Be a Big Company to Appeal to Job Applicants

On-site childcare, exercise facilities, a monthly guest speaker series and access to box seats at sporting events are among the perks large companies use to convince top talent to join their teams. Such incentives can be quite effective, too. However, just because your company is smaller doesn't always mean you're at a disadvantage when recruiting.

To tip the scales in your favor, emphasize the benefits of working for a small or midsize firm. Here are some common assets worth promoting to candidates:

  • Professional growth: Job responsibilities often are less rigid at smaller companies. Employees may be expected to jump in and help wherever needed, which can translate into exposure to a variety of new and interesting projects. Also, a smaller team offers greater opportunity to learn about and assume more challenging tasks earlier in a career. This can be appealing to individuals eager to put their knowledge to the test and advance professionally.
  • A clear role in the company's success: Employees of a small company often can more easily see the effects of their work. Their ideas usually must go through fewer approvals, allowing good suggestions to be implemented more quickly. As their proposals come to fruition, employees can witness how their ideas change the way the organization handles its daily business.
  • Access to management: Talking to a small business owner or president can be as simple as walking down the hallway and casually sitting down for a discussion. The management structure usually isn't as layered as at larger firms, so employees can interact with and learn from leadership on a more regular basis.
  • Credit for work: Office politics may be less of a concern simply because there aren't as many employees. If someone makes a notable contribution, they're more likely to get credit because it's easier for everyone to be aware of who made the contribution. That makes it more difficult for someone to take responsibility for an achievement that wasn't really their own.
  • Family atmosphere: At small firms, employees have more opportunities to get to know everyone in the organization really well, not just people in their own departments. Accounting professionals may even sit next to sales, marketing or other staff. Gaining assistance from a colleague in another group can be as simple as turning to the person in the cubicle next to you. When there's a company party, there are no unfamiliar faces or names. All of these factors can help create a feeling of being part of a family.
  • Less red tape: If there's a new software application on the market that an employee thinks would be useful for the company, it can be given serious consideration by decision makers right away. There may be fewer hoops to jump through than at a large company because the recommendation might not have to go through as extensive a review process.

Making the sales pitch
Don't wait until you begin interviewing candidates to tout the benefits of working for your smaller business. Make sure your job ads convey the appealing qualities of joining your team so the best and brightest are motivated to apply.

Also, let your people help sell your company to candidates. They are in the strongest position to talk about the everyday benefits of work life at a small firm. Be sure to schedule time for top applicants to meet with your employees during the interview process.

Remember, too, that you shouldn't have to work too hard to convince a promising candidate to join your team. If you've made a persuasive case and a competitive offer. and the candidate is reluctant to say "yes," it may be best to move on. Not everyone is suited to working for a small firm, so you want to hire people who truly have the interest and motivation to be successful in your group.


Next Article... Back to Top

Benefits of a Temp-to-Hire Strategy

Take a close look at the human resources strategies of businesses that seem to navigate well through both good times and bad and you'll likely find they know how to staff flexibly: Many employ a mix of full-time and temporary professionals. As needs fluctuate, organizations can staff up or down more quickly and cost-effectively than those with teams composed entirely of full-time employees.

Some of these employers find they have another advantage as higher workload demands become sustained. With direct access to skilled talent for full-time roles, they may not need to search for outside candidates. By engaging temporary personnel for prolonged periods or through repeat engagements, they're able to see these workers in action, interacting with permanent staff in the company's unique work environment.

However, just because a first-rate interim professional is working at your firm doesn't guarantee he or she will want to join full time. Like any employee, temporary staff members should be made to feel valued and given the support necessary to succeed. Here are some tips:

  • Prepare a workspace that says 'welcome.' No one wants to show up for their first day of work and be presented with an untidy or inadequately appointed work area. Give interim personnel a space to call their own and make sure all necessary equipment, supplies and communication tools, such as email and intranet access, are up and running.
  • Provide onboarding activities. The first days and weeks on the job are critical to any new employee's ability to fit in and become as productive as possible. This is also true of temporary staff members whom you want to evaluate for a full-time role. When an interim team member starts work at your firm, take time to provide a mini-orientation. Give the person a tour of the office, introduce them to key personnel, explain how your department works, and provide a brief summary of policies, procedures and expectations.
  • Recognize their efforts. Every professional wants to be commended for a job well done. Be sure to give kudos to temporary personnel just as you would full-time workers. If they believe their contributions are appreciated and truly make a difference to the organization, these employees will be inclined to work even harder for your firm - and maybe, for the long term.

Businesses that adopt a mix of temporary and core staff will benefit not only from the flexibility project workers allow, but also because the talent they need on a permanent basis is often already within reach. Being able to hire people familiar with the organization and their work means firms can move fast on new business opportunities - without fear of overstaffing and with less risk of hiring mistakes.

If a temp-to-hire strategy is an appropriate approach to staffing for your firm, take time to make your interim professionals feel like part of the team. They may be more likely to say "yes" if you decide to extend an offer of full-time employment.


Next Article... Back to Top

401(k) Plans: Smart Shopping Tips for Employers

These days, many financial institutions are aggressively marketing 401(k) plans to employers of all sizes. These organizations usually also handle virtually all administrative details for employers. Finding a 401(k) vendor isn't hard, but choosing the best one for your company can be a challenge. Here are some questions to ask any potential 401(k) provider:

  • Are the management fees reasonable? Compare them with other plans and find out exactly what you're paying for.
  • Are the investment options all from the same family of funds, or can the employee choose individual funds from different companies?
  • How easily and frequently can employees switch their investments – between an equity and a bond fund, for example? If your employees can't change investments at least quarterly, they can't stay current with market trends.
  • How often do participants receive account statements?
  • Does the plan offer a full range of investments, from conservative to moderately risky? The more choices employees get and the broader the range of those choices, the better the plan can meet employees' varied investment needs and goals.
  • What's the reputation of the 401(k) plan vendor? How long has the vendor been offering and managing 401(k) plans? How have the investment options in the plan fared against similar options? Stack the plan's equity funds alongside similar equity funds to see how they compare.
  • How good is the vendor's documentation for your employees – its brochures, investment-option explanations, and so on? Keep in mind that many employees require solid, easy-to-understand advice and guidance.
  • Can the vendor support IRS and Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) reporting?
  • Does the provider offer self-service capabilities so that employees can access their accounts online to make changes?

Because an employer's directors and officers face potential personal liability for mishandled 401(k) plans, smart employers establish investment committees and generally structure their mandate through a carefully drawn charter.


Next Article... Back to Top

Six Ways to Minimize Healthcare Costs

Even though it's true you pretty much get what you pay for in a healthcare plan, you can adopt a few strategies that will help you save money without compromising the quality of your employees' medical care. Here are six guidelines to keep in mind:

  1. Affiliate with the largest group possible. When it comes to health-insurance premiums, safety lies in numbers. The larger the group of companies with which you affiliate, the more competitive the rates you're likely to pay. Shopping around pays off.
  2. Raise the deductible. Increasing the deductible amount employees are responsible for covering on a typical fee-for-service plan can save you anywhere from 10 percent to 50 percent on premiums, depending on the size of the deductible. Bear in mind, however, that in some states the deductible can't exceed $1,000.
  3. Consider consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs). CDHPs are a relatively new experiment in determining ways companies may be able to reduce healthcare costs. CDHPs usually consist of a high-deductible medical insurance plan coupled with health savings accounts (HSAs). HSAs were created by the Medicare bill signed by President Bush in 2003 and are designed to help individuals save for future qualified medical and retiree health expenses on a tax-free basis. To offer HSAs to employees, you first need to institute an HSA-eligible, high-deductible health plan.
  4. Manage drug benefits. Many companies have eliminated co-pay arrangements for prescription drugs, opting instead for plans that require coinsurance and/or deductibles on a cost-sharing basis. One cost-cutting aspect is to provide preferred coverage for generic drugs. Some plans offer reduced costs to participants who elect home delivery by mail for long-term prescription needs instead of purchasing these items each time at a local pharmacy.
  5. Consider working with a benefits consultant. Bringing in an outside benefits expert to analyze your company's healthcare needs and recommend the best approach to health insurance may cost you money in the short run, but the recommendations can more than offset the initial expense. Another option is to find a local insurance agent who specializes in medical insurance and ask that person to recommend the best program. Just make sure that the programs recommended to you have an established track record. Bear in mind, too, that while some benefits consultants charge on an hourly basis, others act as insurance brokers and get a commission (anywhere from 3 percent to 10 percent). If you're a good negotiator, you may persuade the broker to make price concessions.
  6. Establish wellness programs. Wellness programs that encourage employees not to get sick in the first place are a growing benefits trend. These initiatives can not only keep healthcare costs down for companies but also promote healthier behaviors that result in reduced absenteeism. Be aware, though, that having these programs in place can raise privacy and perceived discrimination issues, especially among people with hard-to-manage health issues such as obesity or smoking. If care is not taken in establishing them, workplace wellness programs can shift costs to those with the greatest healthcare needs and potentially violate federal antidiscrimination and privacy laws and other regulations.

One key step is to encourage employees to stay healthy. Conducting regularly scheduled seminars; distributing literature; and offering a wealth of information on your company's intranet on topics such as stress management, nutrition, sleep, and other health-related subjects can go a long way toward decreasing healthcare costs.

Back to Top