How to Beat Your Bigger Competitors in Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

Today we’re going to talk about one way small businesses can set themselves apart from the big guys to attract and retain the best talent to help them continue to grow.  

As we all know, people just can’t seem to stop talking about millennials and the good, bad, and ugly of having them – and by them I mean us because I was born in 1986 – taking over in the workplace. Lots of that conversation has been around millennials’ lack of loyalty to their employers and the expense it causes to companies to have to deal with the higher turnover from millennials, but what if you could turn what is a liability for most companies into an asset for your own?

A few months ago I had an interesting conversation with a CEO of a multi-state non-profit organization who was trying to recruit me for a job that she said would groom me to be her replacement in a few years. While I didn’t want the job, the conversation gave me some insight into how small businesses can set themselves apart.

This CEO had had a very accomplished multi-decade career in banking, sticking with one bank and reaching the executive vice president level before switching out to non-profit work and she told me that she didn’t like it when people pointed to her as an example of the type of loyalty that is missing from the millennial generation. She went on to explain that while she’d been with the same bank for decades, she’d had a new job every one to two years and was continually, learning, growing, taking on additional responsibilities, and able to develop and see a continual path forward because the bank invested heavily in her professional development. This forward progress was the key, she said. In her mind, millennials weren’t less loyal than her generation was, rather, the employers weren’t investing in them in the way they should be. Without an ability for continual professional development within a company, it’s no wonder these top performers would jump ship she said. A person who is content to stay in one place not learning, not growing, not accomplishing is not someone you’d want on your staff anyway.

So, the take-away from this is that you, as a business owner, have the power to provide the opportunities for growth and professional development that millennials are hungry for and, if you do so successfully, you’ll have a leg up against the big companies in attracting and retaining the top talent. Study after study shows that millennials are willing to make less money if it means they receive other benefits – like growth and increasing levels of responsibility – so rid yourself of the excuse that you just can’t pay as much as the other guy so you don’t get the best people. Additionally, a small business is the ideal place for this to happen because there is constant change so continual learning and ever-increasing autonomy are exactly what you want for and need from your employees. How perfect that it’s exactly what millennials want from you and aren’t getting from your larger competitors.

You’re only as strong as your team so, if you want to continue to grow, take to heart what this CEO said to me and flex your professional development muscles so that the top millennial performers help make your business the best it can be.

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