Every firm starts somewhere. Not too long ago even Facebook, now some 17,000+ employees strong, was just Mark Zuckerberg and a small cohort of believers.
Regardless of how amazing your product is, the success of your growth story will largely depend on your people power. Before you begin ‘operation: expand’, commit to nurturing a healthy growth strategy, underpinned by careful planning and management.
Articulate your purpose
The hunt for meaningful work is on the rise and EY research reveals organisations with a clearly visible sense of purpose frequently outperform their peers in both growth and bottom line business.
People are being bombarded by career-related information on a daily basis, and Gallup evidence suggests workers are increasingly open to hearing about new opportunities and move between roles more frequently these days. People might have your ear, but winning them over and gaining long-term loyalty is a totally different ball game.
Taking the time to clearly define your company’s mission, where the passion comes from and why it exists, could be crucial to the success of your talent brand. According to TechCrunch, articulating the entrepreneurial startup vision outside of the core team is a huge challenge for SMBs. If you can get it right, you’ve already got an edge.
Play to your strengths
When it comes to attracting and retaining top talent, you mightn’t be able to compete with the size and brand of the giants, but you can capitalise on what you’ve got. Being a smaller firm means you can be human-centric and offer people visibility and the chance to make a real difference in the business. You can be agile and flexible, and nurture a close-knit culture of professionals who are more like friends.
Due to meeting the pressures of high demand, big firms often have to scurry to get new employees through the door; it’s a numbers game. Instead of churning through applications purely to get bums on seats, being a small business means you can offer a truly excellent candidate experience as part of a stable, ‘quality over quantity’ approach to growth.
Ask questions and listen
Working in a small team makes it easier to forget the importance of proper communication. Just because you sit in a room with your small team of employees for forty-odd hours each week, doesn’t automatically mean your finger is on the pulse with employee engagement and how everyone’s feeling.
According to this research by the Department of Business Innovation & Skills, firms between 5 and 19 people will see the most benefit from proper in-house leadership & management skills. Remember to truly value your great people, never becoming complacent or assuming they’ll stick with you. Other firms will try to headhunt your superstars, so be sure to check in regularly to prevent any gripes from snowballing unnecessarily. Holding regular team and individual meetings is a great place to start.
Create an employee handbook
Having a thorough, buzzword-free workplace HR manual can help ensure everyone in your business is on the same page, preventing potential misunderstandings. Laying out expectations, boundaries and perks will help employees know their rights and give them access to concrete information about the company’s vision. The process of pulling this handbook together will encourage best practice and structure in your management style, too.
This guide from National Federation of Independent Business offers some good pointers on layout, but before you publish and put your employee handbook into action, conduct meaningful research to make it legally sound. Seek out online HR resources like this one from ACAS, and consider booking in a consultation with an employment law specialist to ensure you’re fully across the intricacies of the human capital ecosystem.
Befriend supportive technology
Just because your business is in its early days, doesn’t mean you have to go at everything alone. Selecting the right HR software to be the backbone of your business can reduce your stress levels and help you maintain control of your growing company.
Do away with multiple spreadsheets and notepads full of scribble, and choose a system that saves you time by automating data entry, encouraging positive company culture through employee mapping, streamlining payroll, time off, absences and benefits, and offering you great insight through meaningful data.
While every business starts somewhere, the final destination comes down to the powerful team behind it.
Ronni Zehavi is CEO of hibob