August 09, 2019

Five Simple Things Small Businesses Can Do To Attract and Retain Employees

Jaime Nolan, CAE, CGT

Jaime Nolan, CAE, CGT
Founder/Principal/Skip Rock Consulting

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According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (2019), the national unemployment rate in July 2019 was 3.7 percent, only .1 percent above a 49-year low of 3.6 percent reached in April 2019.  In an economy with unemployment rates at historic lows, an emphasis on inviting and supportive workplace culture is imperative for the success of a small business. 

 Few small businesses can afford the creature comfort benefits that many large Silicon Valley companies offer, but small businesses do have far more to offer than they may realize.  The opportunities are numerous and oftentimes small business owners simply need some ideas to get started.  While owner of IntrinXec, I was proud to have our company named one of Minnesota's "Top 100 Best Places to Work" by Minnesota Business magazine for six years in a row (2013-2018), and much of what made our culture so attractive to employees was through the small things that our leadership team did to show the employees we cared about them as individuals. 

A key way to continue to attract and retain employees in a market where unemployment is so low is to focus on intangibles that can set your workplace culture apart.  To help you get started, following are five simple things that small businesses can do to begin creating an award-winning workplace culture:  

  1. Write handwritten thank-you notes - at least once throughout each year - to each of your employees to thank them for their hard work and name a specific value they bring to the company that you appreciate.   The power of a personalized note from the owner often carries more weight than compensation increases ever can.
  2. Create a "recognition" box where employees can write thank you notes to their colleagues when one of them go above and beyond in their role.  Read the notes at staff meetings and do a drawing for a $10 coffee gift card for those that wrote it and those that received it.

  3. Bring in a masseuse once per month to provide 15 minutes chair massages to employees.  This is especially beneficial for employees who sit at the computer most of the day.

  4. Create "Coffee Hour" on a quarterly or monthly basis where you sit down with your employees and spend 30 minutes each answering fun questions about each other, allowing individuals to connect in a more relaxed atmosphere and feel more connected to you, the owner.

  5. Create a "culture team" with a handful of engaged employees.  Have them identify ways they would like to connect with their colleagues in a meaningful and engaging way such as quarterly happy hours, office game days, jersey day, internal employee spotlights, etc.  (Remember, it is about what they connect with - so letting the team lead the way will be more fruitful than management imposing ideas from the top-down).

 There are many more opportunities that small businesses can pursue to create a supportive and engaging workplace culture.  To chat more about how you can create an award-winning workplace culture-specific for your business, connect with me on LinkedIn and schedule a consultation call with me here.



Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics; Retrieved from

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