• Sonja Lunan

SMALL BUSINESSES: Attracting & Retaining Talent

The Labour Shortage

Competition is fiercer than ever for employers when it comes to attracting new talent. Due to the pandemic, there is a shortage of workers that is affecting almost every industry. Large, medium and small businesses alike are struggling to fill rolls. Workers have many options and for the first time can be extra selective when choosing their place of employment. This presents an issue regarding employee retention for small businesses.

Creating Value

If you are having trouble attracting new talent one way to be more appealing to candidates is to create value in the application process. Put yourself in the candidate's shoes and ensure to create job postings that are appealing rather than intimidating.

Invest time when creating your job postings and make sure to emphasize all the perks and aspects of your business that make it unique. This shows candidates what your workplace is like and will attract them to applying.

Work-Life Balance

Due to the rise of remote jobs and shortage of workers, candidates can ask for what they need and what they want when it comes to employment. One of the deal makers for candidates now a days is the ability to have a healthy work-life balance.

What exactly does work life balance mean? Well, it is the equilibrium between one's work life and personal life. As an employer the benefits of providing a healthy work-life balance for employees include lower risk of burnout, improved productivity and fewer absentees. There are a couple ways to promote work life balance for current employees and candidates.


As an employer you must understand the needs of your employees and ideal candidates. Take some time to research how other employers in your industry are providing work-life balance to their employees. Sit down with your current employees, ask them what you can do to give them a better work-life balance and take their feedback into consideration. During the application process ensure to discuss the importance of worklife balance and what this looks like in your company.

Flexibility and Incentives

It is important to understand what is motivating new hires to close the deal. A crucial aspect of attracting talent in the current economic climate is to provide flexibly and incentives. This is applicable not only for new hires but also to retain current talent long term.


In Canada the majority of the workforce is currently made up of millennials and therefore it is vital to understand what this generation values in the workplace and what will boost their productivity. Building trust and loyalty with this segment of the workforce is the key to retaining talent. The issues which millennial professionals are facing include, contract positions, being overqualified and underpaid as well as internship positions that last much longer than appropriate. These factors give some insight as to why this segment of the workforce is so selective when it comes to choosing employment. And now more than ever, millennial professionals can ask for what they need from their employer because their talent is in such a high demand. The power structure is shifting, and adaptation is essential for survival and success as a small business. So how can this be achieved in an economical way while minimizing profit losses?

Progressive Company Culture

An incentive that will encourage employee retention is having a progressive culture in the workplace. Young professionals are attracted to companies whose values align with theirs. Some values that companies such as HubSpot, focus on to promote a progressive culture are social responsibility, diversity and transparency.

Flex Time

Another element that professionals are currently looking for is flexibility in scheduling and work hours. If it is possible offer remote or hybrid work models to candidates and employees. If remote work is not an option for your employees, then offer flexibility in terms of time off and vacation. Work with your employees to find a schedule that works for both parties and accommodates needs such as childcare, care giving as well as physical and mental health. Flexibility is highly valued among millennial professionals as a result more and more companies are adapting to these needs.

Incentives and Compensation

In terms of providing incentives to attract and retain talent there are a few avenues to explore. The most common is a sign-on bonus. Hiring bonuses not only attract talent but also benefit the employer as it allows for more sustainable salary or wage increases over time. The one-time sign-on bonus might be a good option to obtain talent in positions that are in high demand and are essential to the nature of your business.


Other incentives that have grown in popularity and have been proven to increase retention are employee referral bonuses. This type of incentive helps to attract quality talent because applicants are more likely to trust companies where the employees can vouch for the culture and quality of the workplace. This is not only a strategy to obtain new employees but also to show your current employees that you trust them and value their efforts.

Competitive compensation with a clear growth path is a sure-fire way to build trust with talent. Millennials value compensation more than baby boomers. 52% of millennials who have changed jobs in the past 12 months did so for salary increase, whereas only 19% of baby boomers have switched employment for compensation. A clear growth path will look different depending on the nature of your business, however providing options such as continued education, training and opportunity to grow within the company is something young professionals deeply value.