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HR tips for small business owners – attracting the right employees

12 November 2020

HR tips for small business owners – attracting the right employees

We’re 10% less happy at work than we were last year.

That’s according to workplace accreditation body Investors in People.

Importantly for employers, including SMEs, the 2020 Job Exodus report gives some insight into what people look for in a new job. Completed before the current Covid-19 situation, it says while a pay rise is important, two in three of us are looking for a better work life balance and one in five is looking for friendly colleagues.

It adds employers can make people happier and work better by improving flexibility, which nearly one in three said was a work priority.

So, with that in mind, how do you attract, recruit, welcome, retain and develop your people? And how do you stand apart from everyone else in the market who’s doing the same?

This is the first in a series of posts that looks at exactly that issue.

After all, people are key to the success of any business and arguably even more so in a small organisation, where any issues can have a massive impact.

So it’s worth spending time to get things right.

Recruitment — in the beginning and later on

In the early days of a new business, new employees are usually recruited via word of mouth.

This is often with people they have worked with previously or via existing networks. In this case, it’s much easier to know if the employee is productive and will be a good fit for the business.

However, as a business grows, or if growth is rapid, these networks often dry up. Or perhaps there is a specific specialism that needs a different recruitment approach.

And while there may be many more people available in the marketplace just now, that doesn’t mean to say the right person for you isn’t still working somewhere else.

Right people, right role

So how does a small business attract the right people?

Before you go out to the market or approach an agency, it’s worth considering why an employee should come and work for you.

You may have heard about employee value propositions, and although you may think they sound like language for larger companies. On the contrary, they’re equally important for smaller business.

As a business aims to explain what value it brings to its customers and clients, an employee value proposition is about how you stand out as an employer, and why someone should come and work for you. It’s a bit like describing why your customers or clients should buy from you, but a version for employees.

And to help create this, here are some questions to consider —

  • What is it like to work here? How would you describe the culture and work environment?
  • Are you able to offer staff the opportunity to progress and develop?
  • How do you all work? Do you offer flexibility for working hours, location?
  • Are you able to meet salary expectations?

It tends to be true that SMEs can often offer more variety and flexibility at work which can play an important role in an employee’s personal or professional growth.

In smaller organisations, often with a less complex structure, people may well find they have an opportunity to take on more responsibility and make even more of an impact than they may be able to do in a larger organisation.

And that opportunity can be attractive for potential employees, so it’s well worth looking at how (and indeed whether) your organisation can offer people joining these chances for development.

Providing thought to all of these points ahead of any recruitment will help you clearly show why someone should come and work for you. Doing this well should, ultimately, make it much easier to fill your roles with the right people.


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