People want to work for a great company. Employees at Nike have been known to permanently align themselves with the brand, tattooing the company logo on their skin. Google receives 3 million applications each year for only 7,000 positions — a ratio that virtually guarantees them access to the best of the best. Our jobs consume a vast portion of our waking lives, so it makes sense to spend that time with a company we love. We look for employers that care about our needs, our dreams and our happiness and, if we find them, we work very hard to keep those jobs.
Those brands that are attractive to employees reap solid financial rewards. They spend far less on recruitment and retention and the hires they do make tend to be highly qualified, since they have the largest pool of applications to choose from. But for small business owners a single hire can represent a significant investment and that hire can have a similarly significant impact on the overall success of the business. The smaller the business the more attention must be paid to who is hired and how well that employee does his job.
Small business owners don’t have the national presence that makes it possible to attract millions of applicants, but there are still plenty of ways for them to attract talent and keep employees engaged. Most of the time, it all comes down to how much an employer cares about his employees.
Austin has long been known as the live music capital of the world. It’s a place where almost everyone, it seems, is in a band. Mike is developing a great business serving the needs of thousands of local musicians, and he knows that one of the best ways to develop a loyal customer base is to cultivate a staff of enthusiastic music lovers.
Mike started hanging out at concerts and encouraging local musicians to apply for positions. He created a highly flexible work schedule to allow band members to take gigs whenever they got them, and encouraged his employees’ music careers, putting up their bands’ posters and setting out postcards and flyers at the front of the store.
He wanted to give his employees extra exposure, so he created a program that allowed his employees to visit local junior high and high school music classes and give demonstrations of their musical prowess while teaching young students the value of music education. In addition, he videotaped his employees giving basic lessons on various instruments and uploaded those videos to YouTube. This led to offering in-store music classes where aspiring guitar and keyboard players could both try out the merchandise and learn from experienced musicians.
His employees are treated like the highly valued, talented musicians they are and — at least at Mike’s store — the rock stars they hope to be. Of course, word gets around and Mike’s brand is enhanced each time an employee talks about his job, improving the potential for future hires and future sales.