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Small companies can’t always offer their employees the pay or stock options that larger competitors can, but that doesn’t mean your business can’t make a winning appeal to the best, brightest and most driven employees.

Companies named on 'Best Place to Work' surveys, like Fortune’s 100 list, may be known for their innovation, but that doesn’t mean that small companies can’t also be savvy like their larger competitors. In fact, when it comes to attracting and retaining top employees, small companies may have a hidden advantage – their employees are more satisfied with their jobs than are employees with larger companies.1 Don’t let your company’s size limit your ability hire and retain the best employees – turnover is too costly. The Center for American Progress cites the cost of replacing one employee to be one-fifth of the individual’s salary.2

Harness the power of innovative hiring and protect your bottom line by taking advantage of these tips.

1. Know the key advantages of working for your business

Because employees at small companies are more likely to say they’re extremely satisfied with their jobs than those at mid- or large-sized companies, you have an edge over larger competitors.

Make a list of the value your company offers, for instance:

  • Less bureaucracy: Small companies can often operate with less red tape than their larger counterparts making it faster and easier at times for employees' ideas to get off the ground.
  • More breadth of work experience: Employees at small companies often have many job responsibilities, making their work more exciting and giving them more opportunities for growth.
  • Family atmosphere: Often small businesses can offer a tight-knit work environment that feels like family, making the work day more meaningful and fulfilling.

2. Make the right hiring decision from the beginning

McKinsey and Company, which topped Glassdoor’s list of the Top 25 Most Difficult Companies to Interview for two years in a row, is known for its rigorous interview process. And there’s a clear payoff: the company also reports high employee satisfaction ratings.3 Top performing companies place a high value on the recruiting and interview process because making the right hire can help curb the risk of turnover from an employee’s first day on the job.

Take advantage of these top resources:

Networking: Utilize your company's contacts and colleagues to help find promising talent.
Local Chamber of Commerce: Take advantage of hiring resources, job fairs and workshops.
Online hiring tools:; Small Business Administration.

3. Improve your employee benefits package without spending more

Perhaps one of the biggest gaps between small companies and mid- or large-sized companies is their benefits package. Sixty-four percent of small companies offer major medical insurance plans – significantly fewer than mid- and large-sized companies (89 percent and 86 percent offer major medical plans respectively).1 Still employees are adamant that benefits options make a difference in the decision to take a job, see figure 1.

Small companies need to offer competitive benefits options to win the battle for talent, and the good news is that they can.

Keeping an eye on your benefits offerings budget? Consider these options:

  • Self fund your benefits program: Giving you more control and allowing you to keep premium reserves.
  • Government SHOP marketplace: Take advantage of tax credits for small businesses, if your company qualifies.
  • Private exchanges: An increasingly popular option that can help reduce administration costs and include “fixed-contribution” to help employers stay within budget.
  • Voluntary benefits offerings: Most large companies offer their employees disability insurance, life insurance, retirement 401(k) plans and many other options.

Don’t forget to effectively communicate about benefits options.

communicate Effective communications can make a big difference to both attracting and retaining employees. In fact, 80 percent of employees say a well-communicated benefits package would make them less likely to leave their job.1

Make sure your messages are heard loud and clear:

Communicate three or more times throughout the year.

Use multiple channels such as face-to-face meetings, email messages, and benefits booklets and pamphlets.

Leverage free resources such as: Aflac's Employee Communications Toolkit.

4. Make way for leadership opportunities

'Best Place to Work' companies know that top-performing employees need opportunities for growth. Though not every employee will want to move into a management position or climb the corporate ladder, your company can offer incentives to advance within your organization for those who do instead of going elsewhere for a new opportunity. Here are ideas to consider:

Invest in management training: The No. 1 factor cited as influencing employee engagement and disengagement is their relationship with their immediate supervisor.4
Offer time off or flexibility for continuing education: If you can offer employees the flexibility to meet their goals, they can be more likely to stay with you longer, and to be more driven and happy while they’re there.
Hire from within: It may take extra planning and training, but offering promising employees opportunities when they come available can be an easy way to retain your brightest workers.

Win and keep talent for a healthy bottom line

Though there isn’t a formula for attracting the best and the brightest, there are several ways small businesses can be just as savvy as larger competitors. The cost of turnover is too great and could be avoided by hiring and retaining the right employees. Start with understanding your company’s own unique value proposition, and then take simple cues from top-performing companies to hire and keep the best and the brightest employees.

About the Study

The 2015 Aflac WorkForces Report was conducted by Research Now on behalf of Aflac.

Archived AWR Results

View previous Aflac WorkForces Report research:

- 2014 AWR Findings
- 2013 AWR Findings
- 2012 AWR Findings
- 2011 AWR Findings