By Margaret Hansen
A JobsIntheUS.com poll showed that 88 percent of our audience prefers to work for small- to medium-sized businesses with relatively flat management structures. The overwhelming majority chose a workplace where one can wear "many hats" versus a more rigid, hierarchical, corporate workplace.
If you operate a small business, that's good news. But how do you capture the hearts of those employees before they run off to another great small business?
Be like the best.
Entrepreneur's list of the top 25 small companies to work for offers many inspiring examples of how to do this. Here are five ideas from some of the smallest companies on their list.
1. Hire Ethical People
At Radio Flyer, the famous 90+ year-old tricycle and wagon company, 55 employees report to a "Chief Wagon Officer" (not a CEO), who asks job candidates to not accept a new position unless they truly feel it will be the best job they've ever had. Job candidates are screened extensively for their ethics and integrity.
2. Create 'Work-Life Balance' Policies
FatWallet, an online resource for millions of shoppers to compare, share and find thousands of the latest deals, employs 50 people. Their "No Miss" policy states that employees are not allowed to miss important family events for the sake of work.
3. Spend Generously on Amazing Causes
Bridgeway Capital Management, a 33-person, investment management firm, gives a humbling 50 percent of its net profits to charities that prevent oppression, genocide and human rights violations. The walls of their modest offices are decorated with countless volunteer fliers, thank-you letters and announcements from non-profit organizations around the world.
4. Nurture L&D for Every Employee
Near Infinity Corporation, an IT consulting firm that develops and delivers software to the U.S. intelligence community, offers training through its NIC-U (Near Infinity Corporation University). Each year, every employee gets eight paid days for learning and development, a $5,000 budget for training and a $500 budget for software and books. At internal conferences, employees train each other on: underground hacking techniques and emerging software development languages, for example.
5. Share News and Wealth with Employees
At Maya Design, their workplace culture focuses on transparency. During the recession, they held bi-weekly meetings to keep employees in the loop and luckily, made a profit for every quarter of 2009. One-fifth of the company's profits are shared with their 42 employees every quarter.