Finding, keeping, and managing good personnel, both hourly employees and management, ranks among the major challenges for small businesses. Many owners believe that it is critical to success. An owner who recommended, “Make sure you have good employees before opening your doors”, expressed their thoughts. Managing People is critical to the success of your small business.
Finding qualified employees can be a real challenge. For example, in addition to competing with larger companies for business, small business owners find that they must also compete with each other when it comes to hiring good employees. “One of the big challenges facing relatively small businesses like us,” noted an owner, “is attracting the best talent we can get. For small companies to get somebody good, they’ve got to offer a lot.” Another owner explained that “it’s difficult competing against the big guys who have lower costs of doing business.”
Nonetheless, small business owners believe in their ability to compete for good employees because they can offer some benefits that big companies cannot – such as flexible schedules, loyalty and other intangible benefits.
The road to building a competent staff is often paved with challenges. Many small business owners find it difficult to select the right employees. Retaining good help is particularly difficult. The owner of a civil engineering firm hit the nail on the head: “It’s very hard to keep people who are loyal to you and who want to put the hours in. Otherwise, they’d be in their own business.”
Motivating employees through encouragement and guidance helps to build and retain a competent staff. Here, too, a realistic and supportive attitude can help meet the challenge:
Motivating employees to consistently deliver quality is critical to business success, particularly for a service business. Owners must communicate their goals effectively and train their employees to help achieve these goals. All this requires a delicate balance act.
Generally, owners rely on employee training to ensure that their staff is competent and has the right attitude. For instance one owner said, “one of the things that can help is an internal education program and a proper training program. Also, have a quality assurance review of what you’re doing before the product goes out the door.”
Compensation is a second effective method to motivate employees into conveying a positive attitude and working responsibly. As you might expect, many owners find this a particular challenge. While small businesses typically do not have the resources to pay high wages, they need to adequately compensate employees in order to attract and retain them.
Benefits are another important way to attract and retain good employees. A fair and generous benefits package helps employees feel both valued and secure – – two important characteristics that small business owners feel they can offer to their employees. Even the smallest of businesses can offer such benefits through group programs.
Being creative with intangible benefits is another effective way to retain employees. A bookstore owner recommended that you “figure out other ways to compensate them. We give them special discounts on what they buy within the store. Also, I try to be flexible about their hours.”
When an employee doesn’t work out, then what? Many owners find this one of the most challenging aspects of the business. Often, the difficulty of firing an employee leads owners to retain weak players longer than they should.