If you have any doubt that attracting and retaining qualified employees is one of the biggest hurdles small business owners face, check out these numbers:

    • More than half (55 percent) of small business owners say competing for talent is their top challenge (LinkedIn).
    • When they try to hire, 45 percent of small business owners find few or no qualified applicants (NFIB).
    • Some 62 percent of small business owners admit having made a bad hire (Monster).

Related article: Is Your Business Staffed with Emotionally Intelligent People?


The Fall 2017 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report took a closer look at how small business owners attract and keep the best employees. Here’s what you can do:


1.     Give them raises—Money matters to employees, but just 22 percent of small business owners give their employees raises every year, while 34 percent give raises based only on employee performance and 21 percent do so based only on business growth. If you can only spend in one place, spending on employee wages is it.49883015_s.jpg


2.     Offer flexibility—Only 34 percent of surveyed entrepreneurs have offered employees flexible work hours or the ability to work remotely over the past two years. The great news for small business owners on a tight budget: flexibility doesn’t cost anything to implement.

More on offering a flexible work environment: Remote Workers Are Happy Workers: My Tips for Making Smart Hires


3.     Offer perks—17 percent of small business owners in the survey provide perks aside from flexibility. Perks don't have to cost a lot—just get creative. A few items to consider:

      • Bring in coffee, donuts and bagels for breakfast once or twice a week.
      • Let employees bring dogs to the office.
      • Arrange with a local dry cleaner to pick up and drop off employees’ dry cleaning once a week.
      • Make a deal with a local car detailer to come in once a week and detail employees’ cars in the parking lot.
      • Barter with local businesses to get perks. If you own a website design company, would a local massage therapist give your employees monthly shoulder rubs in exchange for website design?


4.     Offer employee rewards—Fifteen percent of entrepreneurs in the survey do. You can set up your own rewards program or work with a company that handles it for you, like Fond or YouEarnedIt. Stay away from “rewards” like plaques or pens and give employees things they’ll appreciate, like prepaid debit cards or gifts tailored to their interests.


5.     Offer competitive benefits—Just 13 percent of business owners in the survey provide competitive benefits to their teams. Since so few of your peers are doing this, it’s a great way to make your business stand out from the competition. Face it: The big companies competing with you for top employees offer health insurance and retirement plans, and employees expect these basic benefits. An independent insurance agent who works with multiple health insurance companies can suggest options and ways to make insurance affordable. Affordable 401(k) plans exist for even the smallest businesses, so there’s really no excuse for not offering one.

     Offering healthcare to employees: Four Things Small Business Owners Should Consider Before Offering Employee Healthcare

     More on competing with large corporations: Infographic: Leveling the Playing Field Against Larger Corporations


6.    Offer paid or unlimited vacation—Only 12 percent of small business owners in the survey do this. Paid vacation is a standard benefit among bigger companies, so it’s a must if you want to stay competitive.


Why not start your employee reward and retention program now? Take a cue from what entrepreneurs in the survey are doing for the holidays:

    • Closing the office during the holidays: 43 percent
    • Giving salary bonuses: 35 percent
    • Giving gifts: 33 percent
    • Holding a holiday party: 32 percent
    • Offering flexible hours or vacation time during the holidays: 29 percent


Your business wouldn’t be successful without your employees, so treat them right—now and all year long.


About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN,The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.


Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

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Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America,its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.


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