What is one of the biggest challenges for small business owners in 2022? Finding and retaining A-list talent.
Indeed, six out of 10 small businesses are having a hard time finding people to fill open roles within their organizations, and many are experiencing more turnover and higher costs. This environment calls for a more concerted effort to make your business an attractive place to work.
I’ve run a public relations firm for nearly 12 years. A couple of years ago, my business coach got me hyper-focused on attracting A-list players. Here are some of the policies and practices I’ve found to be game-changers when it comes to making my company the best place for top-tier talent.
CULTIVATE AN ENTREPRENEURIAL MINDSET
Create an environment in which everybody experiences the benefits of entrepreneurship, but without the headaches of actually running a business. Offer incentives to people who bring in new business, or grow existing business. The key members on my team are always a part of making the company’s big decisions. We also give ownership over practice areas, and encourage our talent to make their own decisions on a day-to-day basis. Such an entrepreneurial mindset allows for creativity and a sense of ownership.
BUILD A DEEP BENCH
In today’s remote world we have the ability to work with freelancers from all over the country—from publicists to writers to account people. By leveraging this limitless talent pool, we are able to provide support for our core team, while simultaneously building a deep bench of talent with a wide range of skills and experiences.
BE FLEXIBLE WHEN IT COMES TO SCHEDULES AND WORKLOAD
Whether a person wants to work full-time, 15 hours a week, or only during the day or at night, my team and I agree it’s better to have A-list talent some of the time, rather than none of the time. And, we’re always open to people working from anywhere in the world.
When it comes to the amount of work, consider staying open to talented freelancers who want to contribute one assignment a day, week, or month.
DEMONSTRATE AN EMPATHETIC ENVIRONMENT
We’ve all experienced family emergencies, medical issues, and unexpected home repairs. These things happen to A-list talent, too, and no one should feel ashamed or reluctant about having to temporarily focus on something other than work.
In our work culture, team members don’t need to ask to take time to deal with these types of personal matters. Instead, they let us know they will not be available, and hand off their work to a team member who is willing to jump in and provide support during difficult times.
CREATE A REGULAR COMMUNICATIONS STRUCTURE
Consistent communication is crucial, but many small business owners either do too little or too much. For my team, I’ve found that an all-hands call on Monday morning, followed by daily 15- or 20-minute check-in calls via Zoom is perfect. It gives us enough time to see one another, hear what’s going on in each other’s lives, and make sure we’re all on the same page in terms of priorities and workload.
Give people space—whether it’s to let them be more creative and productive at work, or to make sure they fully relax and recharge when they’re not working. During “work time” (that is, during the workday and in between client calls and team discussions), we let our team focus on working. We know they’re busy and don’t need to be checked on every hour.
ESTABLISH GUARDRAILS TO MAINTAIN WORK/LIFE BALANCE
One thing my team and I do to encourage a healthier work/life balance is to set limits around work time. We don’t work over the weekend unless it’s an absolute emergency (no really, I can count on one hand how many times this happens a year). And while we accommodate multiple time zones, we ask that everyone refrains from sending emails after 6:30 p.m. and to wait until at least 8:30 a.m. the next morning. This way, no one feels pressured to handle non-emergent work matters during personal time.
THE BOTTOM LINE
People have changed. Work has changed. Small businesses need to change, too. In this job market, if you want to attract A-list talent and build a team that stays—and grows—with your organization, then you need to be deliberate about how you manage and nurture your employees.
Mark Pasetsky is the founder & CEO of PR agency Mark Allen & Co., where he serves as a trusted advisor to top C-suite executives.