Every entrepreneur is different. Some have staffs of twenty, others have a staff of two.  Some work exclusively with contractors, others have a mix of dedicated employees. 

How you create your team is all about what works for your specific needs and goals. But whether it be an assistant, graphic designer, or CPA, you want the right people on your team. And furthermore, you want them to stay on your team. High turnover and re-training are expensive time wasters.  If you want to grow your business, you need to focus on what only you can do and consider outsourcing the tasks that eat up your valuable time. 

So how do you attract and retain the right team?  The obvious answer is higher pay and great benefits. But what happens when the job you need to fill is essential, but not so essential that it’s worth tacking on extra zeros?  Or what if the position does call for an extra zero, but they’re so in demand that you must compete with more established businesses when bringing in quality talent? 

You don’t have to break the bank to be a desirable place to work.  As many employees begin to poke their heads out of their home offices in a (somewhat) post-pandemic world, studies are showing that soft perks are a deciding factor for many people. 

Here are some soft perks to keep in mind when looking to enhance the workplace for your current team or searching for new talent to bring in:  

Flexible Schedules

I know some people cringe when they see this but hear me out: not all jobs make sense to have a Monday-Friday/9-5 schedule.  Some do, but many don’t. If you’re clear on due dates and recurring required meetings, there are plenty of positions that can give you exactly what you need, while the employee reaps the benefits of a flexible schedule. 

Work From Home Options

If there’s anything that the last (nearly) two years have taught us, it’s that being in the office doesn’t always equate to productivity.  If you’re hesitant about going entirely remote, work from home Fridays are gaining popularity and are a nice break from commuting for employees, however infrequent.

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Odoo Members

Pet-Friendly Environments

Pet adoption went way up at the height of the pandemic and many people are searching exclusively for work from home gigs so their new fur babies won’t be alone.  When I was job hunting, that was one of the soft perks I was not only looking for, but would have been willing to take a pay cut for. Not everyone has the capability, but if you do, consider it (with the appropriate disclaimer about training/temperament, of course). 

PTO for Volunteering

Paid Time Off can be an expensive thing to offer, especially when businesses are just starting out.  But if you have a passion for giving back, or if you partner with any local non-profits that align with your mission, offering PTO for volunteer hours is a great way to give back to the community and break up the monotony of the work week for your team!

Work Within the Local School Schedule

Childcare is pricey, and even when the school year begins, afterschool programs eat up a big chunk of parent paychecks.  If most of your clientele is local, consider adjusting select employee work hours to match the local school schedule. And if you want to go further, look at those teacher workdays when children have off, and see if there’s any wiggle room for employees to take those days off and reallocate the hours to your busiest time of the year when you need extra help. 

Know Their Availability and Respect It

Work-life balance comes up a lot in conversation. We all seem to agree it’s important, but often forget about that when we need something in the moment.  Of course, there are jobs and entire industries where it’s expected to be on-call at all hours, but when trying to retain and attract quality people, it’s worth mulling over whether you’re honestly paying enough to warrant staff answering your calls at 11pm on a Saturday.  You might say “they’re a hard worker and never complain, so I’m sure it’s fine”, but let’s remind ourselves that not everyone feels comfortable setting boundaries with their boss. Even if you think you’re the coolest boss ever, you might be more intimidating than you realize.  We work to live, not live to work.  eWN is a great example.  We’re told up front that two times a year, it’s all hands on deck.  Long hours, weekend work, etc. Aside from those two times of year however, we don’t get calls or texts outside of business hours.  We’re very rarely asked to stay late or come in on a day off.  Our time is respected and leaving on time for the day is not frowned upon, it’s expected.

Treats, Celebrations, and Seasonal Soirees

There’s something to be said for a general “work vibe”. You don’t have to throw a Renaissance Fair every time there’s an asterisk on the calendar but doing something nice for your people to mark times of significance enhances the friendly camaraderie you want when building a work family. When it was our CFO’s birthday, Sandra brought in a big plate of cookies from Crumbl bakery.  When our office was getting remodeled, Kym brought us all pizza.  The Monday after conference, Sandra closed the office early so she could take the whole team out for a steak dinner. There are always ways to show appreciation and throw some warm and fuzzy into a productive working environment.

Prioritizing being a place that people want to work will not only help attract and retain talent, but it will also create loyalty. When you treat your staff with care, they’re going to want you to succeed, and in turn, work hard to help you reach your next level of success.

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