Candidate shortages mean SMEs struggle to secure top talent

Some 67 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises have struggled to secure the best people for their business, facing a shortage of suitable skilled and experienced professionals which can restrict their growth.

One of the biggest challenges SMEs face, particularly in a candidate-short market, is how to attract the best talent for a job, according to specialist recruiter Robert Walters.

Smaller businesses may feel that they are at a disadvantage compared to larger companies that can offer higher salaries and additional benefits, but a study by the company suggests that these are not the deciding factors for many candidates.

Some 88 per cent of professionals say policies that encourage a good work-life balance are important to them and 87 per cent consider regular review and feedback important in their job.

This compares to just 69 per cent who say salary and benefits would have a strong influence on whether or not they applied for a role.

Chris Hickey, CEO of specialist recruitment firm Robert Walters for the UK, Middle East & Africa says that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) face many of the same recruitment and talent management challenges as the largest global companies.

‘However, there are unique recruitment hurdles and opportunities that face the human resources professionals, hiring managers, managing directors, CEOs and owners in all SMEs,’ he adds. 

The risks of getting it wrong are costly, and for businesses looking to secure their future success, ensuring that their recruitment and talent management processes are robust and sound is essential.

Hickey adds, ‘Attitudes and priorities among professionals are changing and SMEs are in a strong position to capitalise on this shift and attract the best people.

‘While salary is still an important concern for professionals, positive company culture and work life balance are increasingly high priorities.’

Hickey advises that by focusing their flexibility and freedom to shape company culture more easily than larger firms, SMEs can gain a significant advantage when looking to attract the best staff.

‘Finding ways to effectively communicate this message to potential job applicants should be a top priority for SMEs.’

Further reading on recruitment

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.