Cuba Gooding, Jr. won an Oscar by saying "Show me the money!" to Tom Cruise in the hit movie Jerry Maguire. However, in today's business market, it may not be enough to "show the money" to employees, especially new employees. While money is very, very important to workers, it is not the ultimate draw when it comes to attracting and retaining high quality employees.
Today, the key is a relaxed atmosphere that encourages flexibility and individuality. This is especially true for small entrepreneurial businesses. Because the employees of smaller companies are closer to the founder/originator and mastermind, there is more tingling excitement, more ardent passion, and certainly more participative communication about where everyone wants the company to go.
True, big companies usually can offer their employees better salaries and larger benefit packages. However, with employees in a position to demand more in today's job market, small businesses can have the edge by stressing individuality, inventiveness, a casual atmosphere, and opportunities for personal and professional growth. They can make these offerings by weighing and balancing what they need to achieve as a business and what is significant and meaningful to employees.
Companies who listen well to their employees have the most success. They have discovered that the main perks center around incorporating flexibility into jobs; more productive and individualized workspaces; participation in the company's success through pay-for-performance, stock options or incentive pay; and training that keeps employees current in their fields. These concepts also apply, of course, to large companies, but smaller companies have an added edge. Simply put, smaller companies can be more creative by addressing individual needs.
Large companies are still laboring under the old, tired aphorism, "If I let this one person do this, then I have to let everybody do this." Consequently, they cannot allow employees to control their own time. Having control of one's own time is a major perk, especially for younger workers. In the old days, everyone worked 8 hours a day and then went home for dinner, each day of the workweek. Today, in many companies, everyone works until the job is finished, even if that means staying long after normal working hours and then ordering take-out. Under these circumstances, it is very important for smaller companies to provide "time and circumstances (leisure) benefits"—those benefits and rewards that make an employee's life easier.
Companies will retain a happier, more fulfilled, and therefore a more highly skilled and motivated workforce if they allow employees to get things done more quickly and efficiently. And the most successful companies will be the ones who pay personal attention to the people who truly get things done.