Making your Business the Place to Be - Attracting and Retaining Talent as an SME

  • 1 December 2023
  • HR Katie and pirkx at pirkx
  • 3 minutes read

Making your Business the Place to Be - Attracting and Retaining Talent as an SME

When you’re competing with canteens and gym memberships, figuring out how to market your business as the best place to work can sometimes feel daunting (even if the lunches do leave a little to be desired…). As SMES or Start-ups, we are often without the resource to provide the creature comforts which large organisations do – so how can we keep top talent onboard despite this? This week we are exploring how you can make your business an enticing, comfortable and engaging workplace so that you can attract and retain the talent you need to help your business grow.

We spoke to HR Katie on the topic, who told us, “When working with a variety of small businesses I have seen that cultivating that positive workplace has been a game-changer for most. Celebrating wins, investing in growth – it's all about creating a space where people want to be! And you can be as creative as you like with any unique perks you can think of – one of my clients offers an all-inclusive “work-ation” to Mallorca to their whole team every year!”

So, here are 5 top tips you can use in your business -


Tip One: Cultivating a Positive Company Culture

The most important thing your business can do is create an environment where no one feels excluded or uncomfortable, and luckily this can be done for free. SMEs and startups have the advantage of being nimble, allowing them to shape a close-knit work environment. Try to encourage open communication, celebrate achievements, and foster a sense of belonging, celebrating the diversity amongst your employees. When employees feel connected and accepted by a company, they are more likely to stay for the long haul. Perhaps start by asking your employees if there is anything they would particularly like to celebrate or recognise?


Tip Two: Invest in Professional Growth

Talented individuals seek opportunity. While SMEs may not have the extensive training programs of larger corporations, they certainly can offer targeted and personalised growth opportunities as the business grows. This might include tailored development programs, mentorship opportunities, or support for further education. Demonstrating a commitment to employees' career advancement not only enhances their skill sets but also builds loyalty and makes sure that you can attract talent which is likely to stay with you as you grow.


Tip Three: Alternative Benefits

While SMEs may not always match the salaries offered by larger companies, you may be in a position to offer unique perks such as flexible work schedules, remote work options, or wellness programs. Showcasing a commitment to employee wellbeing goes a long way in attracting and retaining key staff, plus individuals are more likely to stay with an organisation that recognises and accommodates their needs.


Tip Four: Transparent Communication

One perk of having a smaller team is being able to communicate more easily. Keep employees informed about company goals, challenges, and successes, so that they are aware of how the business is developing. Solicit feedback and involve them in decision-making processes when appropriate. Feeling heard and valued contributes to a positive work environment and fosters a sense of ownership among the staff.


Tip Five: Recognition and Rewards

Recognition is free. Rewarding employee contributions is fundamental to retention and even in large organisations this goes beyond monetary incentives. Create a culture of appreciation, whether through formal recognition programs or simple expressions of gratitude such as a simple email to a gift card. When employees feel their efforts are valued, they are more likely to remain dedicated to the organization.


There are lots of different methods SMEs and startups can use to attract and retain staff despite limited budget. Try prioritising a positive company culture, investing in professional growth, offering alternative benefits and recognising employee contributions. By focusing on these elements, organisations have a better chance of creating an environment where employees are not only attracted to the mission but are enthusiastic about contributing to the company's growth over the long term – even without a daily free lunch!

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