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How to find and keep good employees (when you can’t pay more money)

Competing for and maximising scarce resources is part of daily operations in SMMEs. Like natural and capital resources, human resources are not available in unlimited quantities, and are therefore scarce. When you are looking for specific skills and knowledge, the gap widens even further and the cost to acquire such talent increases far above what most SMMEs can afford. For these small businesses looking to attract and retain good talent, there is a need for creativity and sacrifice.

Small business should understand and leverage their own strength when it comes to attracting good talent – their size. Being smaller in size means that they have more flexibility than what corporates would have to structure employee benefits to suit the needs of the employees whilst benefiting the company. These employee benefits need not be monetary, and with creativity the entrepreneurs can create a whole range of benefits for their employees that would not only attract them but retain them in the business long-enough to achieve growth.


A few creative ways that SMMEs can attract and retain good talent include:

  • Build a professional business – No one once to work in someone else’s bedroom. A person’s job is an extension of their identities. Give them a good identity that they can be proud of. Brand your business, have appropriate offices, be professional and create a company culture they will want to belong to.


  • Provide Challenging Assignments – People naturally want to develop and grow their skills. There are many great people who have left big business because there was no room for personal and professional growth. In corporate companies where job descriptions, inflexible business processes and bureaucracy make it impossible to do more than you are hired to do, small business can leverage their ability to offer room for growth and development by assigning challenging tasks to employees that require them to develop themselves.


  • Consider Non-monetary Benefits – Some people want flexible working hours, others want to continue their studies, others want to travel and grow their profiles. Understand your employees and customise the benefits to their needs and your business’ capabilities. May be something as simple as free daily lunch which saves your employees money and time.


Whatever it is that you decide to offer, understand that not everyone is after money as a primary reason for going into or staying at a job. Small business must invest in understanding the benefits that will improve employee satisfaction and use that as their unique selling point in attracting and retaining good talent.

Tell us in the comments below How you have retained good people in your business?

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