Culture attracts quality employees to your business

Small business owners are tired, weary and frustrated with the constant revolving door of their employees coming and going. The recent pandemic, changes to the way we do business, early retirement packages and government financial assistance have created a tough environment for small business owners trying to find qualified talent.

How can this be addressed?

First of all, employees are asking for and seeking culture in the workplace. While some may feel this is a buzzword of today, we believe that it is here to stay. Even with businesses knowing culture is important, many don’t know exactly what culture is or how to define it.

There are a number of ways to go about defining your culture, but what is foundational in any process is identifying and defining the vital behaviors that make up your culture. These behaviors should be things that you actually do; they should not be aspirational.

Businesses often choose words and values that are aspirational, and they end up being performative rather than authentic. People quickly see through that and unfortunately it erodes trust and reputation faster than if you had not had them in the first place.

Look at culture as the personality of your business, the foundation, what matters to you and what your business represents. Knowing your culture and sharing it transparently is the first step to finding qualified talent.

Once businesses have their culture clearly defined, the next step is leveraging that to attract and retain the right people. Shift your interviewing and hiring to elevate soft skills. What does that mean? Soft skills are non-technical skills that impact your performance in the workplace such as being a team player, communication skills, and adaptability — and even though we tend to overlook them, they are the key to attracting the right employees.

By elevating soft skills in your interviewing process, you set the tone for folks to know that being sufficient at the tasks isn’t enough, but being a good coworker also is vital. Setting this up clearly from the beginning also will help your employee retention improve. Retaining employees takes similar work as attracting them. Investing in the continuous development of your employees, whether soft or hard skills, not only makes your people feel more seen and valued, but it also supports your culture. It does this by continuing to reiterate and reinforce the vital behaviors while equipping your employees to live out your mission.

Your recruitment process may benefit from shifting as well. A new study shows that 79% of new hires are finding their jobs via social media. Create a target market profile for your employees and meet them where they hang out online. For restaurant owners, that could be TikTok. Showcase a day in the life of that position. It will help them get a feel for the environment, the culture and what to expect by joining your team.

Remember, culture doesn’t just start and stop with the new hire, the trick is that you don’t want folks to feel like their support drops off after orientation is done. Moving from being new to feeling at home should be seamless. This is where your culture picks up. Onboarding is the introduction; culture is what keeps the support and reiteration happening.

We are creating a two-part webinar series on how to attract and retain employees. During this deep dive you will learn all the tools needed to confidently attract the right people for your open positions and cultivate an environment and team to retain employees to enable you to grow your business.

Mary DeYoung is owner of Gray Space Collaborative and can be reached at or (616) 648-2733. Jennifer Kok owns Next Wave Business Coaching and can be reached at or (616) 821-9623.

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