FLORIDA SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTER AT IRSC
ADVANTAGES WHEN COMPETING WITH LARGER COMPANIES
SMALL BUSINESSES CAN OFFER JOB CANDIDATES
You have the business, you have the
production, but you don’t have the people
to make it all happen. Is this your business?
Imagine you’ve landed a big government
contract but you can’t find enough
workers to execute it. Right now, the
talent shortage is affecting companies
globally. In the fourth quarter alone, 15
million Americans resigned their jobs. This
Great Resignation trend continues, according
to Katherine Culhane, a business
consultant at the Florida SBDC at Indian
River State College.
As a small or medium company, you
compete with larger companies that can
offer higher pay and more benefits, but
don’t throw in the towel just yet.
Small businesses are attracting and
retaining talent by leveraging advantages
that large corporations don’t have and offering
attractive lures that big companies
can’t necessarily match.
Culhane explains millennials and Gen
Z candidates are seeking a work-place
culture and company that focuses on their
well-being. In fact, according to Gallup,
it is their top priority. A company with a
clear mission, workplace flexibility, healthy
work-life integration and a management
team that is committed to employee success
are also top priorities.
“If employers are not committed to
some or all of these workplace issues,
they will struggle to engage, recruit
and hire this segment of the workforce,”
said Culhane, who specializes in human
resources. “The good news is small businesses
can have significant advantage in
implementing and creating workplaces
that will appeal to the millennials and Gen
Leveraging these workplace advantages,
a small business can potentially compete
with much larger firms, who may be
offering better pay and benefit packages.
Most HR professionals agree traditional
acquisition and retention strategies no
long apply in this marketplace. Business
owners have to be more innovative and
creative in their recruiting process. Millennials
pioneered the social media movement
and remain connected on-line 24/7.
Improving recruitment success could as
simple as being more innovative in using
social media channels.
“Entire hiring campaigns can be created
on YouTube,” Culhane said. “A recruitment
video could include employee testimonials,
cover perks and benefits and most importantly
highlight the company’s culture.”
State colleges, such as Indian River State
College, are good sources of talent and recruiting
through career events, on-campus
interviews and engaging students through
internships, where students can get a
chance to wear many hats.
Because recruiting is expensive and
time intensive, employee retention is also
a critical factor for small businesses.
What can small businesses do to build
an organization so workers stay?
Small businesses can invest in employee
growth opportunities by providing ongoing
professional development training;
creating an employee feedback program
with legitimate follow through; and diving
deep into exit interviews. Employee
retention is another area where the small
business operator can compete with the
“Make no mistake, employee satisfaction
is what enhances and fosters better
rates of acquisition and retention,” Culhane
said. “Small business owners, please get to
know the culture and brand your business
represents to your customers and employees
just as well as you understand your
cash flow and profit margin.”
INTERVIEW, SELECTION PROCESS
To save time, it’s a good idea to phonescreen
a candidate first.
For the main interview, ask behavioral
based questions, such as tell me about a
time you dealt with a difficult client and
how you resolved it? Or give me an example
of a time when you had to conform
to a policy about which you did not agree?
Or tell me about a time you failed?
Make sure it is a structured interview
process, with a set of standardized questions
asked to all applicants.
Having a detailed job description is
critical. People want to see the job, how
enriching the job is and what is expected
of them. And for the employer, it’s not only
having a good culture but it is about finding
the right candidate for the culture. You
are looking to ensure that they match the
organization culture and can fit in.
Always compare the candidate qualifications
to the job description. Attitude
is likely more important than technical
abilities. Can he or she learn and grow on
Once hired, onboarding of new employees
in the right way is also important.
People want an orientation to the company
and to be introduced to colleagues.
This is the time to set the right expectations
of the job.
Final Culhane thoughts, tips
Small business owners certainly must:
• Determine how to pay fair and
• Regularly recognize employees for
hard work and good job performance
• Provide continuous performance
• Allow employees to develop a sense of
security; feeling undervalued is always a
top reason for employees leaving
• Ensure employees experience a
positive environment, so they will become
brand ambassadors and promote the
• Provide employees with regular professional
development training opportunities.
BY NANCY DAHLBERG
Katherine Culhane has an extensive
background in banking, including roles in
management, business development, commercial
lending, and private banking. She
has a Master’s Degree in Organizational
Learning and Leadership, is a Certified
Professional Behavioral Analyst and is a
SHRM Senior Certified Professional with
the Society of Human Resources.