Small businesses have identified attracting and retaining employees as the number one problem in growing their business. Paying competitive wages with good benefits is a good starting point in the effort to be at full employment, but it is not enough. 

How do you set yourself apart from your competitors? One way is by beginning to understand how your corporate culture is portrayed (or not portrayed) by potential and existing employees.  

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, New Hampshire had a record low unemployment rate in May, 2023 of 1.9%, the lowest monthly figure ever reported. The problem is compounded by the fact that there are approximately 8,000 fewer people in the workforce than before the pandemic. According to the NH Department of Business and Economic Affairs (BEA), “New Hampshire’s 80 Top Occupations are projected to have nearly 197,000 job openings from 2022 to 2032, of which only 6,100 will be filled by labor force growth, leaving a gap of nearly 191,000.”  

191,000 jobs available; 1.9% unemployment. That’s the reality, and a major hurdle for companies that need to hire. 

co workers in office space

Knowing this, it is important for companies to differentiate themselves. They need to effectively communicate to their potential talent pool their culture, their values, as well as their overall brand. Ask yourself:  When job seekers look at your website, what do they see?  

Hiring is the new marketing. Marketing is the act of creating messages to attract customers. In this competitive hiring and retention market, employers must do the same to attract potential employees. A consumer brand attracts clients or customers, an employer brand attracts talent.  

You must, then, attract talent. Draw them in. Job seekers look to your website to get an understanding of the business – and the company’s culture.  

According to Soho Creative, a marketing firm in Portsmouth that has studied this issue, there are three ways to strengthen your digital presence: 

  • Creating a distinct employer brand to attract talent.
  • Authentically communicating your story and culture so that potential hires can envision themselves working for you.  
  • Share your mission, so that talent has a deeper understanding of the why behind your work.  

Your company does not have to change who you are, you just need creativity to tell your story. By creating a true dialog of who you are as a company, you will attract employees that are aligned with your company’s values.  

Here are some examples of values and aspects of company culture: 

  • How do employees live the company’s mission statement during their time at work? 
  • What are your donation and giving programs? 
  • What is the founder’s story, including their journey, personal interests, respect for employees and importance of customer/client service? 
  • If the company has corporate outings or other employee gatherings, do you post pictures on social media and on the company website?  
  • Your employees have a story as well. Why do they work there? There are many bios under the “team” section of companies’ websites. In addition to discussing their personal interests in the employee bios, add a quote about why they enjoy working for the company.  
  • Encouraging professional growth through professional development programs. 
  • Mentoring employees by pairing mentors and mentees.  
  • What are your diversity, equity, and inclusion goals or best practices? What are your environmental and sustainability goals? These areas have become even more important to employees (especially the under-40’s) in recent years. 


You are facing access to employee competition mostly within your own industry. You have the same limitations as your competitors have, yet somehow, you need to set yourself apart from them. Workforce culture is a good way to demonstrate your uniqueness.  

There is not a “one size fits all” for workforce culture. A blue-collar company should not take the same approach as a high-tech company. Be authentic in your communication to reach your intended audience - an engaged workforce that is enthusiastic about working for your company and actively supports your mission as a long-term employee.  

Salary and benefits are very important to employees, but that is the straightforward part of hiring and retaining employees. You can easily get these quantitative norms within your local industry. What will set you apart are the qualitative benefits such as enthusiasm in your current workforce and other non-monetary benefits of working for your company. 

This is part of a series about ideas for businesses to recruit and retain their workforce.

Hiring Tips in a Tight Labor Market

More hiring tips

Building a Culture of Safety

The Value of Implementing DEI in Your Small Business

Igniting Your Small Business through DEI and Inclusive Leadership


Business Advisor
Phone: Office (603) 862-2200
Office: UNH Peter T. Paul College of Business & Economics 10 Garrison Avenue, #265B Durham, NH 03824