How to Find and Keep Great Employees

Finding and retaining talent is a challenge that most small business owners can relate to. Strong practices in these areas can build and protect your bottom line, increasing your revenue through skilled new hires and minimizing the expenses involved in replacing staff.


Elizabeth Cole, Executive Vice President of Human Resources at Citizens Bank and a small business owner, explains how small firms can hold on to their valuable employees and attract the best new hires.

What are the most important things small businesses can do to attract and retain good employees?

Because small companies aren’t able to offer all the benefits or perks that a larger company might, the most important thing is to give people an opportunity to make a real difference. You have only so many employees to rely on, so every single person is integral to the performance, growth, and profitability of the business and the way that customers perceive it. Let employees have a say in how work gets done and in what you might do to grow the business. Give your team the authority to make decisions that will help to serve your customers better.


It’s also important to give employees growth opportunities, which can be harder to do in a small company than in a larger one. Ideally, people should be able to look back on a year and say, “I did so much more and am capable of so much more than I was a year ago.”

Are there areas where small businesses may actually have an advantage over larger companies?

It can be easier in small companies to have a personal relationship with employees and to be able to offer a personal touch. You’re more likely to see when they’re doing something well, and you can take advantage of this by sending a quick note or text that acknowledges their hard work. Gestures like that go a long way — they keep morale high and they keep employees motivated.

What types of services or benefits are most important for small companies to offer?

First, employees need a dependable, transparent way to get paid. This may sound very basic, but it’s critical. Investing in a professional payroll service lets you do this, and the direct deposit feature included in these services makes the process convenient. Many of today’s payroll systems also make it easy for employees to track their hours, their vacation time, and even their continuing education credits and certifications.


Second, employers should try to help their staff access benefits that might be difficult for them to get on their own. Even if you can’t afford to provide these benefits outright, you might offer discounted access to things like medical insurance, life insurance, or disability policies. Also, consider offering a retirement plan, such as a 401(k) or Simplified Employee Pension (SEP). Since many small businesses don’t offer these, it may be a nice surprise to employees if you do.

Are there any other affordable but perhaps overlooked benefits that might help with recruitment and retention?

Some banks, including Citizens, offer programs that provide employees with access to banking tools, education, and advice. Representatives from the bank will come to a workplace and give seminars on financial education topics, or they might help employees open checking, savings, or other types of accounts. The skills employees learn through these programs can help them to manage their paychecks and their finances more effectively. Offering these programs can send employees the message that you care about their well-being.

How else might employers benefit from providing certain perks?

Working with a professional payroll service minimizes the risks of doing it in-house, such as mistakes with payroll taxes. It can save you a lot of time and hassle, even if you have a very small staff.


Offering retirement benefits can result in more stable, less worried employees. They may feel less stressed and even more focused, knowing that they’re saving for their future. Some plans may also offer employers tax benefits, such as deductions for plan contributions. Providing these sorts of benefits can help your small business feel more like a larger company. They give you a level of sophistication that might not always be felt in other areas.

How should business owners evaluate providers of employee benefits?

You should consider the same criteria that you would if you were choosing any other vendor or even a business partner. You’ll want someone who will be completely transparent about what they can and can’t do. You’ll want to know what the costs will be, both to you and to your employees. You’ll want assurance that they will fix mistakes quickly and that they’ll take responsibility for them. Lastly, you’ll want to be sure that the services and account information can be accessed electronically and through mobile devices. That will make things easier for you and your employees.

More information

We are committed to helping your business succeed. Our dedicated business banking professionals can help you find the right product to meet your business’ needs. To learn more about employee benefits, please call 1-800-428-7463, visit us online, or visit your nearest Citizens Bank Branch.