May 20 2016

By Erin Sherbert

You’re an entrepreneur on your way to establishing a successful small business. You’ve made enough money to keep the lights on and start taking one day a week off. Good job. Now it’s time to grow. What you need more than anything to start scaling your company is to retain your top talent. But how are you going to cobble together stellar benefit packages that will compete with larger companies? You probably can’t, so don’t try to keep up with the Joneses. Instead, take some of these creative approaches to recruiting and retaining top-notch employees.

1. Give your workers a day off during the summer

This is just plain nice of you. It’s like a snow day at school but warmer. You’re letting them take an entire (paid) day to get some much-needed rest and relaxation and vitamin D. You don’t have to let them all go at once?—?have each employee select a day and release them from their duties. Chances are they’ll be willing to work that much harder for you the next day.

2. Empower them

You can’t hire top talent and then silence them in a corner; they’re not just there to execute all of your brilliant ideas. Good workers do well when they are given a lot of responsibility and some decision-making power, too. It’s also a great way to learn more about your employees’ abilities and interests.

3. Care about them

It might sound really old-fashioned, but caring about your employees?—?and showing it?—?will make them actually want to come to work. Why? Everybody wants a boss who asks how their ill cat is feeling or give them a card on their birthday. It’s the little things that count.

4. Feed them

We don’t just mean the occasional team lunch at Wendy’s. Buy a small (or large) fridge/freezer and stock it full of treats (ice cream!) and good eats that will keep them happy and full while they work. If you’re feeling super generous, you could do a breakfast spread every morning. Remember, free food goes a very long way.

5. Survey your employees to find out what makes them happy

Who better to give you advice on how to retain employees than the employees themselves? Hold a quarterly lunch with them or take them for a round of drinks during happy hour and ask them what they would like to see around the office. Not only will you find new perks to add, it will make employees feel like you’re invested in their happiness.

6. Let them WFH

Now here’s something that won’t cost you a dime and saves your employees some money, too. Working from home/flexible schedules can be one of the easiest perks that goes a long way for stressed-out employees. We’ve talked to many workers who feel far more productive when they’re revising spreadsheets or taking calls from their bed. Believe it or not, people can be productive in their pajamas!

7. Pick an office VIP

So you don’t have the money to offer bonuses, but you do have a good sense of employee morale. So pick one top performer each month and make that person the office VIP. That person will hold an elite position for the whole month, making important decisions around the office, such as which coffee beans to roast or which Pandora station to play at the office. Fun!


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