Creative ideas can help attract right employees

Posted1/26/2015 5:55 AM

In a hiring mode? A creative approach to matching job requirements, benefits, the workplace and candidates might make a difference.

Small businesses "absolutely" are hiring, says Andrea Herran, whose Focus HR, Port Barrington, currently has four clients in the marketplace.


And while Herran, principal of the firm, agrees that smaller businesses sometimes face hiring obstacles, she's willing to share ideas that in many instances may more than level the hiring playing field.

The first step comes before the hiring begins.

"Benefit costs -- health insurance, vacation, time off -- are the biggest issue to an employer," Herran says. "Look at options."

Among the benefit options Herran discusses:

• Major medical or accident coverage, which she says is sometimes primarily what employees seek, and Aflac, which covers out-of-pocket expenses.

• "People are interested in more flexibility in managing their time," Herran says. "Offer more flexibility."

• Recognize employees. "Have a pizza party to celebrate all the birthdays each month," is a Herran suggestion that builds workplace goodwill and isn't costly. "Bring in breakfast once a month. Do the same with desserts. Give a gift card to an employee's favorite restaurant to celebrate a work anniversary."

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Herran's concept is to develop a collegial workplace, a culture that actually spills into the hiring process. "People don't want to work just anywhere," she says. "If you want an employee who will have an interest in your company, you have to help them feel they have a work home."

Among Herran's ideas to help attract qualified candidates, then turn them into workers:

• Be flexible about where you list your job, but be careful as well. Herran will use, which aggregates both jobs and resumes, and, for the right position, Craig's List.

• Make a positive out of the fact that employees in small businesses often wear many hats. The fact that there is more diversity in the work can be a selling point.

"A bookkeeper will be a bookkeeper, but most smaller businesses provide valuable additional experiences, because employees often handle different tasks," Herran says.


• The workplace atmosphere doesn't often surface in pre-hiring interviews, but maybe it should. Offer an interesting candidate the opportunity to speak with an employee or two, away from your presence. "Suggest the candidate ask one of your employees why they work at your company -- and why they stay," Herran says. "Making the offer and then the introduction will surprise most candidates and indicate that yours is a place where open communication works," she says.

• "Ask candidates what type of (work) environment they want," Herran says. "Everyone knows each other in a small business. You want to hire a personality that's a good cultural fit.

"Be open about what you're looking for. Your business culture may be open and friendly, or it may be just do the work." Either way, a new hire needs to fit.

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