How to use your small business brand to attract employees
Competition for staff is as strong as ever, and if you’re a small business owner you might be wondering how to compete with big corporates.

The value of your company brand – what it is and what it offers potential employees – will help you stand out from the crowd. Understanding your brand and how to promote it can be a big advantage against the competition in the hiring market.

How your brand attracts talent

Your brand is your business’s identity. It helps shape people's perception of your business, making it an important tool when hiring.

Your company brand is largely comprised of your reputation as an employer and the benefits you provide workers such as pay, career development opportunities, culture, and flexible working.

And for small business owners in a competitive market, your brand is key to attracting employees.

“There are more jobs than people at the moment, so you need to stand out,” says Anne Chiew, Founder and SEO Director of Full Measure Digital, a search marketing agency that works with large national brands. “Smaller businesses often can’t compete with big companies and global offices, but there are unique benefits to being a small business.”

The key is to find your point of difference, Chiew says. “You can play your own game: that’s a great way to attract talent.

“To be successful, you need to be good at relationships and communication. It’s also important to embody this in your brand and value proposition, even from the beginning, when your job ad is written.”

Perks small businesses can offer staff

One important way to promote your brand point of difference when hiring is through the perks offered to workers.

Of course, smaller businesses often can’t match the perks large corporations can afford. But small businesses have the flexibility to make quick decisions and implement them straight away – and also to move on if something doesn’t work, Chiew says.

For example, Full Measure Digital decided to have a company-wide mental health day off during the pandemic. “We decided that in a half hour meeting, and we didn't need to talk to investors or a big parent company. We just made a decision and did it,” says Chiew.

“I'm also a big believer in ‘fail fast, learn fast’. The best way to find out if something works is just to try it. If we fail, at least we learn something from it.”

Some of the perks you could offer your employees include:

  • Remote working: If it suits your business, give staff the option to work remotely and, if possible, provide a work-from-home allowance for equipment. “In this setup it can be useful to plan events to get people to come together once every 2-3 months to do face-to-face team building and workshops,” says Chiew.
  • Flexible working: Flexible days and hours, such as starting and finishing work two hours earlier or later.

  • Asynchronous workdays: This suits some parents who prefer working in the evenings when their children are asleep. Encourage staff to work when it suits them – which isn’t always 9-5. Using communication tools allows team members to stay in touch so there aren’t impacts on deliverables.

    Adding an explainer to email signatures can also help some people feel more comfortable with this way of working and help your brand too, eg. 'At <Company>, we value flexible work arrangements and I sometimes send emails out of hours; please respond when you are working.’

  • Flexitime communication: Set up a chat channel (on messaging apps like Slack or Teams) where employees can let others know their working hours or days and if they’ll be unavailable for a certain time.

  • Benefits: Discounted gym memberships, learning and development opportunities or even paid days off for birthdays can all be attractive to staff.

How to promote your brand

There are plenty of ways to promote your company brand – some of which you may already be doing. Here are some suggestions:

  • Write job ads that highlight what you offer employees beyond the job itself: Your job ad should stand out from the crowd, avoiding boilerplate job ad templates. Focus on what you offer, and the reputation you have in the industry. “Write about the job as though you’re telling a story over a campfire, and choose your language very carefully,” says Chiew.
  • Remember that your staff are your biggest cheerleaders: “People are your biggest assets and also a powerful advertisement,” Chiew says. “You only have a limited amount of hours per day to talk about the business and what you stand for, but you can create mini cheerleaders amongst those who understand what you’re trying to achieve with the business.

    “You can’t keep staff forever, but when staff or clients leave, you want them to leave with positive things to say about your business. While they're with you, make their experience meaningful.”
  • Talk to your network: Word of mouth is extremely powerful, Chiew says. “Don’t be afraid to let people know you're hiring and ask if they know anyone. Go out and talk to your network because sometimes they just need to be reminded that you exist or have current roles on offer.”
  • Make time for content marketing: Even if your business relies heavily on word of mouth, the impact of frequently creating and posting content, as well as engaging with your audience can be huge.

    “You have to set the time aside to market your business no matter how busy you are, and even if you already have work coming in,” Chiew says. “You can't be in front of everyone at the same time, but an article will sit on your website forever and will continually work for you.”
  • Contribute to your industry: Volunteering as a mentor in your industry, or for non-profit organisations, is highly rewarding and will often open up new networks, too.
  • Enter awards: There are plenty of awards out there in every industry. They’re a great way to grow your network and raise brand awareness of what makes you great.

Find out what employees want

Not sure what employees in your field are looking for? Find out what attracts Kiwi job seekers in each industry.

Understanding your company’s brand and what sets you apart is the first step to attracting the right talent. Employee perks are an element of your brand which can be easier to communicate and promote to job seekers, making them a great attraction tool when hiring.

From your job ads to content marketing and becoming more visible in your industry, setting even a small amount of time aside to promote your brand can lead to big benefits.

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