With studies showing the increasing skills shortage of workers in a range of industries, small and medium businesses must compete against the brand recognition, salaries and benefits of larger companies.
However it is important to note that the best SMEs are up against the same odds as all other SMEs. They have to find ways to make their often lesser known brand a more attractive choice than the prestige of big company brands. Despite the competition and talent shortages, SMEs are proving to be formidable competitors in bringing talented employees to their doors, hiring an increasing number of staff while maintaining a selective hiring criteria. This is because they know how to leverage their culture and the advantages associated with their smaller size to win over candidates.
Great Place to Work’s study of 50 top SMEs identified six strategies that such companies have used to engage and attract talent. These are noted below, although it must be taken into consideration that how a company executed each strategy may change according to company size and industry and culture.
Provide robust opportunities for growth and development
Increasing numbers of candidates are more attracted by career development than just salary alone. Candidates what to grow and be challenges. Companies must be ready to demonstrate growth paths available to employees, and highlight opportunities available to assist them to grow professionally such as an investment in training programmes, internal promotion and challenging work projects.
Highlight the impact employees can make by working at your company
A major benefit of working for an SME is that employees often have greater responsibility with actions making a greater impact on a company’s success. This sense of purpose is a critical component of a great workplace. In addition, according to studies conducted by the University of Michigan, when employees know how their work impacts the lives of others, their company or the world around them, their productivity, morale and job satisfaction increase significantly.
Realising the difference you are making has shown to be especially important for millennials in the workplace. Generation Y shows that a sense of purpose in ones work is a stronger predictor than pay as to whether an individual will stage at a company and participate in referral recruitment.
Make sure you offer fair pay and attractive benefits
In addition to realising the impact of their work, being rewarded for their work shows recognition and in return generates a feeling of importance within the company and increased job satisfaction for the employee. Whilst smaller companies may not often be able to offer larger salaries, they can place an emphasis on creative and competitive benefits. These benefits can also be personalised to particular employees, for example by offering flexi-time work, subsidised childcare and gym memberships and offering more time off for long-serving employees.
Give a great first impression
It is important for companies to create an exciting but welcoming environment for candidates applying for a job. Make sure that communication with an applicant is engaging, even if an applicant is not hired, as a good relationship with strong candidates with help to bring them back when another position becomes available.
Use creative recruitment tactics
Many companies underestimate the power of creative recruitment and the tangible ROI it brings. If you are looking for younger hires and fresh talent it may be wise to partner with colleges and universities, establish an intern programme or offer open evenings where potential candidates can talk to existing employees. Focus also on candidate engagement, and introduce modern but personal recruitment tools such as video technology.
Make culture a USP
Understanding your company culture and promoting this at every opportunity will allow candidates with similar personalities as those working for your organisation to have increased job satisfaction and make lifelong friends. Finding cultural fit can be difficult so it may be wise to get more current employees on board during the hiring process. For example by using video technology in recruitment, videos can be seen and reviewed by employees to make sure successful candidates will fit in well with the current workplace.
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