Hiring and retaining talent

You don’t need us to tell you that the workforce—and workplace—is changing. As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses must rethink how they attract, hire, retain, and manage employees

What do workers value now?

While many of these perks probably won’t surprise you, it’s important that hiring managers understand what candidates are looking for when weighing their employment options. A large desk and an ergonomic keyboard aren’t enough; survey data compiled by PeopleKeep and Fractl found that the most sought-after employee benefits in 2020 were:

  • Remote work

  • Health insurance: medical, dental, and vision coverage

  • Paid time off: more vacation time, and unlimited vacation time to recharge and refocus

  • Flexible hours/flex time off: the ability to balance work and life

  • Paid family leave: only about one-third of companies offer paid maternity or paternity leave and providing paid leave will be a differentiator when you’re hiring new talent (SHRM)

  • Free daycare

  • Fitness perks: like onsite gyms or reimbursement for memberships to fitness centers or yoga studios

  • Four-day workweek: while some small businesses scale back hours in the summer, the practice can yield year-round boosts in productivity

  • Free coffee, snacks, or meals in the office: more than two-thirds of employees who have access to free food at work report being “very” or “extremely happy” on the job

  • Student loan and tuition assistance: fosters continued learning and professional growth

  • Pet insurance or pet-friendly offices: can appeal to both younger employees and empty-nesters

When you’re hiring, employee benefits help attract and retain top talent. Interestingly, women are more likely to prefer a workplace culture that offers flexibility, like paid parental leave and remote work options, while men are more likely to prefer benefits like free employee outings, team bonding events, and an onsite gym.

However, offering the right menu of benefits that deliver an ROI can be a challenge for small businesses. Don’t invest in benefits your employees don’t value, say the experts. Not sure which perks will resonate most with your team? Try sending out a survey asking employees to rank current and potential benefits. Then, look for cost-effective ways to offer your employees the highest-rated benefits.

What does the modern workplace look like?

A 2020 survey by Citrix sheds some light on the new workplace culture. The survey of 2,000 white-collar, knowledge workers and 500 human resources directors found:

  • Employees are looking for jobs that offer complete flexibility in terms of location and hours
  • Remote workers will likely move out of cities and other urban locations, creating new work hubs in rural areas
  • Workers look for businesses that employ collaborative technology to connect remote workers with in-office workers
  • Today’s employees want to work for a company that cares less about the amount of work produced and more about the impact workers have on the business
  • Workers expect to be trusted and given the space they need to do their best work, wherever that happens to be
  • Employees want to work for a company that prioritizes diversity
  • Workers will expect to be supported in sharpening their current skills or gaining new ones

What this data means for small business owners

A 2020 survey by Citrix sheds some light on the new workplace culture. The survey of 2,000 white-collar, knowledge workers and 500 human resources directors found:

Millions of American employees are still working remotely, and it appears that this trend will continue for the foreseeable future. Business leaders now must expand the hiring pool beyond their geographical location to attract employees who can boost an organization’s creativity and productivity, regardless of where they live.

To find strong candidates for your small business, experts suggest looking into untapped pools of talent, such as people who’ve put their careers on hold to care for children or aging parents, retired Baby Boomers who still want to work a few hours a week, and part-time, contract, and gig workers—who now comprise a larger percentage of the workforce than ever before.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way employees view and approach work. To attract, hire, and retain talent, small business owners will need to embrace new, flexible work models and design a workplace culture that empowers employees to steer their own careers. The ROI for doing so is two-fold: increased engagement and motivation from your current employees, and the ability to gain the attention of creative critical thinkers who can help move your business forward.

Thanks for reading! Please note that this content is intended for educational purposes only. As laws change regularly, you should refer to your state legislation and/or an advisor for specific legal counsel. If you’re a small business owner, learn more about workers’ compensation insurance or check your current rate in 3 minutes.

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