Small Employers Can Stand Tall

Ed Frauenheim  

Blog - Ed Frauenheim - December 5, 2014

Small Employers Can Stand Tall

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Many small and medium-size firms boast high-trust work environments that are a strong lure to job seekers. When these Davids wield their culture weapon smartly, they can beat out the Goliaths for great candidates. The trick is to know and cultivate your strengths, be transparent about what you have to offer, and take every opportunity you can to expose the behind-the-scenes of your workplace. While smaller workplaces may not have the same brand recognition as larger organizations, the levels of responsibility, independence and team connection they offer make a really compelling package for many candidates.

Consider home furnishings retailer Room & Board. Nine in 10 employees say managers trust them to carry out their responsibilities without micromanaging them. And the firm gives staff great latitude to set their own work priorities. “Each staff member works on goals and challenges that are meaningful to them,” one Room & Board employee told us. “We meet with management three times a year to talk about progress and opportunity. I find it very refreshing in that it is staff-member-driven.

Modest-sized firm also frequently have great camaraderie. Take Tapestry Technologies, a small technology services provider based in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. The 55-person firm promotes esprit de corp through activities such as monthly team-building luncheons, annual corporate picnics, holiday parties and charitable golf tournaments. “Working for Tapestry provides a sense of working for family,” says one staffer. “You can talk to anyone about anything and not worry about being judged.

In addition, many compact companies are overflowing with feelings of honor and meaning. At baseball equipment retailer Pro Athlete, for example, 98 percent of staffers are proud to tell others they work there. And 88 percent say their work at Pro Athlete is more than just a job: The chance to make it easier for people to live healthy lives provides special meaning.

When Pro Athlete was named one of Great Rated!’s 20 Great Places in Retail – one of a series of industry rankings Great Rated! is releasing with Fortune.com -- the company made sure to highlight this honor on Twitter. Tapping into employees’ pride in such awards increases the potential of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter content to go viral and reach people throughout employees’ professional networks. In this way, the combination of social media with Great Rated! can be big for small firms.

Our company (@proathleteinc) has been recognized by @GreatRated as one of the 20 Great Workplaces in Retail! http://t.co/bARgAgvBZN
— JustBats (@JustBats) November 20, 2014

Generally, more-modest size companies benefit from exposing their workplace cultures in the competition for talent. Revealing what employees say about a small workplace can help level the playing field with larger firms, as candidates hungry for information get the inside story and can feel more comfortable choosing an employer that isn’t a household name.

So do not fear, Davids of the business world. Goliath is vulnerable. Highlight your culture as a way to stand tall in the battle for great talent.

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Be sure your talent acquisition teams know how Great Rated! helps support their recruiting efforts! See the best practices examples employers are using to promote their workplace culture in this recorded webinar with Great Rated! CEO Kim Peters and Great Place to Work’s Chris Culkin.

Ed Frauenheim
Ed Frauenheim

Ed Frauenheim is Director of Research and Content at Great Place to Work. Ed provides insights into how Great Places to Work For All are better for business, better for people, and better for the world. He has spoken at more than 20 events, co-written two books and published articles in Fortune, Wired and the Seattle Times.