Big companies are stable and strong, right? Yeah, right. As we’ve seen, even the biggest can get crushed under a crashing Dow-Jones. And the fact is, too, smaller companies have an edge on the big guys when it comes to retaining top talent.
Here’s why: Big companies tend to have inflexible rules about compensation, benefits and perks. And often those rules are tied to profit margins — when profits drop, so do comp, bennies and perks. Smart smaller outfits. however, can adjust and mix-and-match benefits and perks to match individual employee needs.
For example: A lot of companies, big and small, are going to face the situation of shrinking raises for employees. The big-company approach to that situation often is, “Sorry, that’s the way it goes.”
But smaller firms can adjust.
- Can’t offer raises this year? Well, then, what if one employee needs to come in late one day a week because of childcare issues? Offering that type of benefit in lieu of a raise can go a long way toward convincing the employee that working for a little guy — even one offering no immediate salary increases — might not be such a bad deal after all.
- Can’t give your top salesperson a bigger slice of commissions? How about letting her family sign on to the company’s cell-phone plan and get a cheaper rate?
- Better still, instead of offering a perk in place of money, ask employees what they’d choose. Sure, you’ll get some wild requests that you’ll have to turn down, but most people have a sense about what’s practical and reasonable — the maintenance worker is unlikely to ask for a company car. Plus, asking them saves you the trouble of trying to dream up the perfect perk for each employee.
The bottom line is that larger firms usually can’t match the flexibility that smaller firms have. So if you’re the HR manager for a smaller company take advantage of what you have.