5 top best practice tips for recruiting staff into your SME business

Well done on growing and expanding! At some point, every business gets to the point where they have to bring more people on board to sustain growth. But taking on new staff is a risky process with many pitfalls, and it can be very costly to make mistakes. Often, small businesses are like families, with the gap between business and personal very small, and a lot of emotion and ownership invested. So think of this: Would you just let anybody into your family, or would you want to investigate a little bit deeper to get to know them properly? The same goes for letting someone into your business. Sadly, many businesses fail to recruit or sustain staff successfully. Attrition (people leaving employment soon after starting) is a major problem that costs small business thousands of pounds every year.

5 top best practice tips for recruiting staff into your SME business

Hopefully these tips will help:

1. Is it really the right time to hire?

Taking on a new member of staff can be daunting for the smallest companies, but if you are already working at full tilt, it may appear as the only way to boost your revenues - other than putting your prices up. But getting it wrong can be very costly indeed! Once the workload is out of the way, it may mean that the new employee becomes redundant without any work to do. Make 100% sure that it is the right time to hire before taking on a full-time person. It is worth considering a Virtual Assistant or outsourcing menial tasks, especially if it is not going to be an ongoing volume of work. But if you know that the additional workload is going to be sustained, then start the hiring process straight away!

2. Get clarity on what you really want

Very often, SME’s make the mistake of hiring what they think they want, not what they actually need in terms of skill set, experience and personality. I always suggest writing a clear description of the job based on the daily duties. Keeping this in mind will define the characteristics of the person you should hire. And stick to the brief when the interviewing process starts. This will ensure that you recruit the right person for the job, rather than someone you like.

Instead of only considering experienced people for your job vacancies, considering a trainee or apprentice may give you a good result, especially with the amount of support available for this kind of recruitment. Try to avoid hiring people on recommendation without in-depth investigation.

Once you have a clear plan, stick to it. Consistency will pay off in the end. People may turn up offering a lot more than you need, and hiring them may seem like a quick fix. But over-hiring is a key reason for people leaving, once they get bored and realise that they can do more than the job requires.

3. People don't only work for money alone

When it comes to staff wages, small companies typically struggle to compete with large corporations, so it is important that SMEs seek other ways to encourage the best candidates. Research shows that beyond high salaries, job seekers prioritise roles that offer flexible work hours (37%), meaningful work (35%) and a pleasant work environment (32%).

While SMEs may not always be able to offer the impressive salaries of the largest corporations, their small size means they can focus on getting to know their employees on a personal level and tailor the benefits offered to suit their employees’ needs. Highlighting how a candidate’s work will make a real difference to the organisation is also a key way to draw job seekers who may otherwise seek employment with larger competitors.

4. Take a multi-channel approach to advertising your vacancy

More than half of job searches are done via a mobile device and this figure is expected to continue to grow. However, it appeared that a mere 9% of SMEs currently optimise mobile for recruitment – with many UK SMEs still relying on newspapers and personal contacts as their main means of hiring.

Job seekers want the flexibility of searching for jobs on the go – and companies that do not accommodate this, could be losing out on the best candidates. In 2017, companies of all sizes will have to embrace smart phones and tablets as a core platform for hiring. Get your job ads online, utilise your website and social media channels to attract candidates, and make it easy for them to engage with you. This will help you get the deepest possible candidate pool to choose from.

5. Keep the process clean

Employment law is strict, and stepping outside of it can be very costly. The rights of job seekers are protected by law, and they can seek legal recourse if they feel discriminated against ore treated unfairly in any way.

Always ensure that all the candidates you consider are legally entitled to work in the UK. Ask everyone for proof of identity and keep copies for future reference. If someone is not entitled to work here, do not continue the process as it is illegal to employ them.

Make sure that you job ads are not discriminatory, and that the recruitment process is free of prejudice. Treat all interviewees in the same way, and make sure that the selection criteria are published together with the job description. This goes for all elements of diversity: Age, race, sexual orientation, disability, etc.

Keep records of the process, like interview forms and letters to unsuccessful candidates. Should there be a problem later, you will have evidence of the process you followed.

As a legal formality, job details - including terms and conditions - need to be sent out to the new employee in writing. You must give any new employee a written statement of employment if they are being taken on for more than one month. Then, finally, you need to register as an employer with HM Revenue & Customs. This can be done up to four weeks before you pay your new staff member.

If you are uncertain of anything, it is best to get advice from a specialist to make sure that the time, effort and money you spend on recruitment, selection, hiring and induction is not wasted.

11 August, 2017

Cathy Richardson If you have any questions about this article or would like to discuss the subject further please contact:
Cathy Richardson of Soapbox Coaching at cathy@getonyoursoapbox.co.uk.

Category: Coaching
Article Area: Starting a Business

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