Finding talent

Hiring and keeping the right people is key for success

Did you know that start-ups and SMEs have become the hottest places to work? According to LinkedIn*, almost nine in 10 of the UK’s professionals are attracted to the idea of working for a small business and this sentiment is even stronger amongst the youngest generation of workers.

But that doesn’t always make the job of recruiting talented people any easier for SMEs for whom the stakes are significantly higher. While large corporates can cover for the inadequacies of one employee, SMEs don’t have that luxury. Recruiting the wrong person will likely have consequences beyond the inconvenience of having to rehire.

Most small businesses do not have an HR department, and the risk is that SME founders and owners hire people similar to themselves or simply because they like them on a personal level.

Recruit wisely

While getting on with colleagues is clearly important, growing SMEs require different people with different strengths and skillsets to comprise a fully functioning team. Employees need to be hired based on their suitability for the role, rather than because their work style is familiar.

‘Many SMEs mistakenly rely on intuition,’ argues Tomas Chamorro- Premuzic, professor of business psychology at University College London and a columnist for Management Today. ‘Most managers, including HR professionals, feel they are great judges of people and their potential. However, there is a science to measuring talent, just like there’s a science to chemistry or physics. If people applied scientific tools, such as valid psychometric tests, to the recruitment process, and trusted their instincts less, they would end up with much better candidates.’

Good management

The same structured processes can be used throughout the whole ‘lifecycle’ of an employee from recruitment, training, increasing motivation, developing talent, and recognising potential leaders.

‘Retaining the best people is key, because they account for a disproportionate amount of productivity and profits in a firm,’ says Chamorro- Premuzic. ‘So engage them – put them on tasks they love, surround them with smart and hard-working people who are like-minded, and reward them for what they produce.’

Small businesses say their number one priority for developing their talent is to provide mentoring and coaching opportunities, according to the SME Pulse** by Oxford Economics in association with American Express.

As the old adage goes, people don’t leave jobs, they leave leaders. Poor, or even just clumsy people management will affect the level and quantity of work produced. Adding some structure to management can provide SMEs with the confidence, knowledge and tools to recruit successfully and manage positively – ultimately leading to a more profitable bottom line for the business as a whole.

*LinkedIn’s Work Satisfaction Survey, October 2016, questioned more than 10,000 professionals and over 3,500 employers worldwide
**Oxford Economics interviewed 300 UK SMEs in October and November 2016