How to Attract the Best Employees for Your New Business

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.

Sometime a simple guidebook can attract best employees

Valve Software, Handy guidebook

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.”

Zappos, going the extra mile to attract best employee

A look inside the Zappos office

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.)

Zappos Office

More pictures from Zappos office

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.

About the author: Brian plays H-O-R-S-E at 3 p.m. EST every weekday at 352 Media Group. Follow his thoughts at @gainesvillepr or on Google+. Mostly on Twitter, though.

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  1. Alex

    Some really good ideas here. Thanks. I must say I’ll need to try some of your suggestions, as I haven’t had such good luck with my employee search.

  2. dinakar

    Hey thanks for sharing this post. I learn great information, keep posting like this article. This article is more informative.

  3. Mukesh

    yes sure if you want best employee and you are searching for best employee profile than companies environment

  4. kuldeep

    thanks for sharing this information this will help us to recruit new employee for our business.

  5. Nice tips, worth implementing. Very informative. I am going to present it to my HR group during the next board meeting, am sure they will imbibe the steps listed here.

  6. David Larson


    It seems like this industry attracts a lot of unethical people. We’ve had very bad luck hiring people who won’t steal, disappear, etc..

    What is the best way to bring self-motivated quality people into managing/planning positions?

    Secondly how to retain talent from leaving? We pay well and try to be a positive workplace, but I’m losing talent for lower paying competitors. How do I figure out why?

    Any Help would Be Gr8full


  7. Harish

    To hire employees with creative bent of mind who can effectively deliver on products and bring innovation in processes as well as products, recruiters must lure them with great working environment and work culture besides paying them adequately as illustrated in the post..A very good read indeed.

  8. Wanda

    For me, the most suited to pry competition and buying their employees. They are trained and know the market, but it cost ..

  9. Grace Evans

    I think culture is the #1 factor followed closely by the innovative perks. Little things can make a huge difference in keeping employees happy and impressing potential new employees.

  10. Richard Thompson

    I think creating a unique culture is one of the most important factors to attracting and retaining the best employees. When you interview candidates you should make sure their goals and personality mesh with the team and the environment you’re trying to create. Great article! I love what Valve does with their employees as well. You should definitely look up the rest of their handbook!

  11. Salman

    A nice share Brian …

    Agree with your words on looking at our competitors and employing their talented employees

  12. Joy

    I have been planning to start a online IM business and somehow stumbled upon this goldmine of an article. Just what the doctor had ordered i guess. Bookmarked you guys and will give the other articles a read too after my lunch.

  13. Jeeten

    Excellent content. Read a quality blog after a long time. I strongly believe that these methods will surely work.. Great work.

  14. Jessica Parker

    Its so true that an innovative environment is very essential to grow your employees as well as your company.
    Great Post Buddy.Thank you for sharing 🙂

  15. Brilliantu

    Excellent ideas! This would really attract great bunch of talents to businesses. I was hoping that business can follow the above-mentioned suggestions, including mine. LOL.:D . But there are things that we need to consider, like the capacity of the business in terms of finances. However, if businesses want their business to succeed. They must allot great money on this one.

  16. Tony

    Google it is a great comapnie for their employers, i heard a lot about atmosphere there 🙂 but if compeny is good it is hard to start work for it 🙂

  17. Miranda

    These are excellent points. I love that you talked about providing a comfortable and supportive office atmosphere as a selling point for new talent. Although I would love to have one of those ‘paid, paid vacations’, I realize that most companies are just not equipped to provide that for their employees, but creating a workspace that employees want to come to everyday and promotes productivity is definitely something every business has control over.

  18. Definitely one of the informative post I’ve read so far. If you want the best employees for your business make sure you must have all a good employee needs like competitive salary and work environment.

  19. lenin larez

    excellent, very good content.

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