How to Attract Talents on a Shoestring Budget

By Andrianes Pinantoan, special to Overdrive

Ten years ago, a McKinsey Co. year-long study found that the most important resource an organization will need in the next 20 years will be talent. So far, they are right – especially if you’re a small company.

With no million-dollar capital, cutting-edge technology or access to big name friends, talents are what small businesses depend on to compete. Yet how can you attract talents if you have a tiny budget? Don’t they want a fancy office, a huge salary and other perks?

Well, yes and no.

It’s true that a certain of amount of monetary compensation is required to attract talent, but more is not always better. According to Dan Pink, bestselling author of “Drive: TheSurprisingTruthofWhatMotivatesUs,” there’s a point of diminishing return – and it’s lesser than you might think.

Once that point is reached, people begin to look for other perks. That’s where a small business can offer more than any Wall Street behemoth can. Here are a few ideas to attract more talents to grow your business:

Autonomy and Flexibility
Some people prefer to punch the clock, others prefer to be reviewed based on their performance. Talents tend to belong in the latter group. Which is perhaps why high-achieving individuals value autonomy, because autonomy means efficiency. That’s where your small company have an edge.

You have no bureaucracy and “approval process” to deal with for every little budget. Meetings tend to be shorter and rarer because everyone knows what their colleagues are up to. They chat casually during lunch instead. And because everyone know one another so much better than those in large corporations, employees in a small company tend to have higher trust for one another – which often mean flexibility. They can work from home if they want to avoid the heavy rain that day, or travel the world, for that matter.

Yet small business employers rarely use these perks in their ads because they assume people want the fancy office instead. Don’t make the same mistake!

Tony Robbins, the self-help guru, once said that the key to happiness is progress. The same is true for people of any level: We all want to grow. If you offer no opportunity for a talent to grow, you can be sure they will leave for a place that challenges them.

And one of the best ways to make sure your talents are always challenged is to cut down your employee review cycle. Some large corporations I know have a six-month cycle as a company policy – way too long for a talent to wait if he achieved his goal in month one!

Another way to encourage mastery is by education. You don’t always have to pay thousands of dollars for them to attend a conference, however. A past company I worked with, for example, asks each employee to present something related to their skill to their colleagues once a month.

Once you reach a certain level of comfort and mastery, you’ll want to contribute to something bigger than yourself. So companies that have a mission to change the world, those who aren’t afraid to do things a little differently, and those who challenge the norm, tend to attract people of a higher calibre.

And if your business really is just “business as usual,” then make a positive, direct contribution to your community. Donating 10 percent of your profits to a particular charity is fine and dandy, but if you really want to make an impact, volunteer your company’s time, once a month to a local non-profit organization.

For most small businesses, not only will you spend less, financially, than if you donated 10 percent, you’ll also attract more talents. Just another way thatempathypays.

When I say “community,” I don’t mean a bunch of happy people with a great life-work balance. Community here refers to “belongingness.”

If a talent were to work in your office, would he/she feel right at home? Are you a bit quirky or are you all serious? What are your company values? Are your employees passionate about what they do, or they can’t wait to go home?

Here’s a great quote from a CEO featured in Businessweek: “I wanted a happy culture. So I fired all the unhappy people.” Remember, you will attract more people like yourself.


According to the authors of “TheCarrotPrinciple,” 74 percent of all leaders globally don’t practice recognition – a big loss for those companies since the correlation between recognition and improved business results, according to the authors, is highly predictable.

And if you think recognition involves giving out huge sums of bonuses, think again. Recognition can involve something as simple as a public email of praise, an employee award or just free lunch.

In fact, one of the most memorable story of recognition I heard from a friend of mine involves a handwritten thank-you note from her boss that conveys how crucial the part she plays in the company and how irreplaceable she is. (I later found out that written messages like post-it notes and letters have a greater psychological impact than verbal messages.)

So how does recognition help you attract, as opposed to retain talents? Well, that’s the next part of the article:


Would you buy a product that your friend recommends or a product that a salesman pitches? Well, the same is true for a job. Talents trust their friends more than any job ad when it comes to looking for new opportunities.

As such, your employees play a crucial role in recruitment. Not only are happy employees more likely to refer talents to you, they also play a big part in branding your organization as a start employer. Think about what a position in BRW’s Best Employers list would do to recruiting talents.

Andrianes Pinantoan is part of the team behind Open Colleges. If you’re interested in training and development, check out their certificate iv in training and assessment. You can find Andre on Twitter at @andreispsyched.

Categories: general


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