Recruiting and retaining employees

8 top tips

1. Keep your contacts database up to date

‘You’ll meet great people throughout your career,’ says Laundrapp founder and CEO Ed Relf. ‘They might not be right for your business today, but they may well fit in a few years’ time. Having up-to-date contact details means you can pick up those conversations when appropriate.’

2. You don’t always need to look outside your organisation to fill roles

Train and upskill your existing staff. High Access founder Niel Bethell says one of the graduate trainees from 10 years ago is now his operations director helping to run the business. ‘Nearly all our staff are organically produced.’

3. Don’t compromise

Don’t settle for second-best when deciding who you bring into your business, says Propercorn co-founder and CEO Cassandra Stavrou. ‘Even if you desperately need to fill a role, put as much effort and time as possible into hiring the right people,’ she says. ‘Bringing in the wrong person can be very damaging.’

4. Try hiring via LinkedIn and do it yourself

‘We don’t use recruiters because everyone that we need to reach is on LinkedIn,’ says Relf. ‘Mark Zuckerberg once said something about the CEO being a company’s best recruiter and I agree. I’ve probably spent 25% of my time recruiting. I meet every single candidate that we hire.’

5. Try job-swapping

Staff at the7stars media agency spend a week doing each other’s roles. ‘You have more respect for colleagues when you understand what they do,’ says co-founder Jenny Biggam. ‘I recently spent a week working on reception and learned just how tough and overlooked that role is.’

6. Don’t recruit for the sake of it

‘No team is faster than one individual on their own, so as you are scaling your business, be aware that adding an additional person doesn’t mean you will double capacity or velocity,’ says Relf. ‘Some teams need to stay small and agile.’

7. Learn to let people go while keeping your values

‘You can never tell how fast you are going to grow,’ says Jane Ni? Dhulchaointigh, inventor and CEO of Sugru. ‘Sometimes you find yourself hiring people and then having to shrink. It can be very painful, but we’ve learned to work with people to think about their next steps and live by our values.’

8. Show your appreciation

Simple praise can go a long way towards making staff feel valued. When financial remuneration is taken out of the equation, 69% of small business employees say that the simple act of saying thank you is the best way their boss can show their appreciation, according to research by American Express*.

* UK study of 500 small business owners and 1,000 small business employees, conducted by One Poll in August 2016