By Mark Jourdain, Director, Solution Consultants

When it comes to attracting the best talent into your small business, there can sometimes be a David and Goliath dynamic. How do you compete with the salaries, glossy perks and benefits offered by blue-chip competitors? Running a fast-growth business, my experience has shown that competitive salary offers are much less of a motivator for the kind of agile, energetic team business owners should be seeking to put together. The bottom line is, money isn’t a deciding factor for real talent. Here’s how I’ve been able to bring some of the industry’s best talent into my business:

Target the right people

Identify what kind of person will thrive in your business best and recruit to this profile. For entrepreneurial business, it will be the challenge, not the salary, which pushes the right candidate’s buttons. A powerful tool to lure high-grade candidates is the promise of working in an exciting and innovative environment, unbounded by the bureaucracy and hierarchies of a major corporate business.

Could a returning mum be the best person for the job? Someone looking for a job-share or a hungry graduate? To reach the right people you’ve got to find out where they are: which websites they’re on, which media they use, what social media platforms they are most engaged with. You can also tap into your networks and those of current employees, friends and family.

Offer work-life balance and more flexibility

As business owners, we have the agility to allow our staff to build flexible work patterns, potentially working from home or non- 9-5 hours. Less commuting equals less stress and expense and with a smaller team, it’s relatively easy to monitor home-office work. Recognising the importance of work-life balance is often repaid in loyalty.

Technology can allow for great flexibility that helps your business grow. Our sales team is based all over the UK; people live and work where they want, while avoiding office politics. In work-life balance, small businesses really can come out way ahead of the corporate giants.

Build on agility

Through necessity, smaller businesses can offer employees a far greater breadth and depth of experience and responsibility than their blue-chip competitors. Employees know they can make an impact faster, and are empowered by this change-making ability. SMEs should highlight this in recruitment campaigns; day-to-day variation makes a role more interesting, challenging and rewarding. Employees also benefit from a steeper learning curve than in a larger organisation. No “cog-in-wheel” syndrome here.

Team Building

This is an area where many companies can fall down. This is less about budget, more about listening to staff, laughing with them, organising fun ideas like a pizza and beer evening or a charity event. Crowdsource ideas for team building from your employees; this in turn helps build workplace relationships and fosters that sense of belonging beyond what is strictly necessary to run the business.

Offer unique perks, avoid fads

Take a more personalised approach to perks and rewards. Perhaps skip the fully-stocked kitchen or games room in favour of a restaurant gift card? There is also the option to be more flexible around bonuses – consider quarterly cash bonuses for excellent work?

As a small business, the most important benefits you can offer your employees are flexibility, variety, a real stake in your business’ success together with the opportunity to lead more balanced lives. In a world that is rapidly recognising the value of investing in time, rather than money, this could be what sets your small business apart in attracting the right talent.