Finding the right employees is a challenge for many employers. Attracting talent to join your company is becoming increasingly difficult. While health insurance is considered a minimum benefit for many jobs, employees are looking for much more than a 401k and a good salary. If you’re looking to bring the best employees to your new business, there are a few ways you can ensure you attract and hook the job candidates you need to grow your business.
Compete on Culture
Companies like Google have legendary perks, but obviously most companies cannot afford to give employees the benefits that big tech companies can, especially new businesses. Small companies can only build salaries and benefits so far, but they can compete on workplace culture while providing smaller, practical benefits. And the culture is best set early on, rather than retrofitted.
While Google’s lap pools are nice, and it’s offices bright and sometimes quirky, your employees may appreciate a small monthly budget for personal errands or services more. You can create an appealing case for employment without a big brand or big salary. Build an effective team spirit that allows your company to grow until you can build your own pool on your campus.
Check out Valve’s employee guidebook, leaked earlier this year and thoughtfully subtitled “A fearless adventure in knowing what to do when no one’s there telling you what to do.” There aren’t bosses at the entertainment company, it points out, but there is still accountability among peers.
A key excerpt from Valve:
“When you’re an entertainment company that’s spent the last decade going out of its way to recruit the most intelligent, innovative, talented people on Earth, telling them to sit at a desk and do what they’re told obliterates 99 percent of their value. We want innovators, and that means maintaining an environment where they’ll flourish.”
While there may be some fatigue with Zappos stories among office culture-philes, it remains one of the more open companies about how they work to achieve success. For instance, as many readers may know by now, at the online retailer there’s a cash offer to entice new hires to quit because the money up front is still cheaper than a bad fit figured out later. Anyone in Henderson, NV (near Las Vegas) can drop in for a tour and interact with the staff. There’s no doubt the office space is zany, and the employees are invested. You can even pick up founder Tony Hsieh’s book for free and grab free donuts, colas and such. (For an eye opener, ask the tour guide about their catering budget.)
Instill an Innovative Environment
While perks and benefits are certainly valuable in finding and retaining talent, at the end of the day employees want to love their work. Time off is important, but you should also give your employees time to be creative without focusing on work. Giving your employees license to pursue things on their own can provide a rewarding environment for workers and can have a great effect on your company. In 1948, 3M launched its “15 percent time” to allow employees to pursue their own ideas and follow up on things that came up during normal work. While there are some failures, it was also responsible for some of the company’s largest successes, including the Post-It Note.
Today, Intuit lets many of its engineers and product manager spend 10% of their week working on new ideas. At Google, it’s 20% time.
At Fog Creek Software, back around 2007, an intern came up with what turned into a million dollar idea for the company – about a million dollars in pure profit, to boot. While the firm didn’t owe him anything more, the CEO weighed options and offered the intern a stake in the company, if he returned to work there full-time after graduation.
Part of creating an innovative environment is to ensure that employees have engaging work and a chance to grow within your company. In a 2011 MIT survey, engineering students said that the most important factor in their job search was to have challenging and creative work.
If you can clearly show a job candidate that they have an opportunity to do fun, meaningful work and move up in your company, you don’t have to compete directly on salaries and benefits.
Use Staffing Agencies to Attract Best Employees
It can be difficult to even know where to find top talent, especially for technical positions within your business. In places like Silicon Valley, competition for local talent is fierce, so it can be necessary to get help in identifying potential job candidates. Staffing agencies like Kforce can make it easier to find talent for quality assurance jobs and other technical positions, without the need for consuming time best used iterating on recruitment or talent searching. Using a staffing agency can help ensure your time is only spent with the best candidates, and with most of the paperwork already out of your way.
Search Your Competitors
Recruiting talented employees from your competitors is a great way to build your company. Taking talent is frequent fodder in the tech industry media, and even small companies can pull talent from companies like Google.
Apple pulled from IBM around the time it was going into the chip business (and, in that case, a lawsuit was underway before the ink on the new hire’s W2 was dry). Google and Apple apparently had an understanding that they wouldn’t recruit from each other, which went away when their friendship eroded and Eric Schmidt left Apple’s board. Yahoo! found its new, exciting CEO in Marissa Mayer, formerly of Google.
One of the better salesmen, turned successful company owners I’ve ever known, would go to restaurants to find salespeople amongst the most personable and successful servers.
For your business, it is likely that you are friendly with some other local businesses, which may have an employee who may not fit on their team that would be perfect for yours. Always be looking for candidates who would fit well on your team.
A few of the innovative perks that draw in top talent:
Full Contact – Paid, paid vacation
Employees get $7,500 to use toward their 15 vacation days, provided they use their vacation days and do no work during their time off.
SEOmoz – 150% charitable donation match
With some fine print, SEOmoz will match at 150% their employees’ charitable contributions, up to $10,000.
Dreamhost – A ping-pong robot
A its new office, Dreamhost brought onboard a ping-pong playing robot because they understand when it’s a late night at the office, it’s not always possible to get a match together.
Uber – Free rides
Employees at the transportation startup get their service free.
Google – Japanese Toto Toilets
On campus, Googlers can experience the most hi-tech toilets around. The toilets offer wash, dry and temperature control.
Jetsetter – Monthly coffee credit
Staff get credit at a nearby coffee shop to help facilitate face-to-face networking without the employees having to soak up the cost.