Rethinking the recruitment chasm

Lee Wade looks at how SMEs can successfully achieve scale by developing a new approach to recruitment.

One of the biggest hurdles that small businesses face as they transition from a handful of employees to a larger workforce, is hiring employees that have the skills they need and building a leadership team. SMEs that are focused on achieving scale struggle to balance the focus on maintaining the original culture of the company whilst recruiting people that can enable its future development. Increasingly, organisations want to create a diverse workforce with a balance of the skills, ethnicity and gender that can drive growth. So what are the tools that can be used to successfully recruit new candidates?

Look beyond CVs

Too many organisations focus on the past experience and specific qualifications that individuals can bring to a role during the recruitment process. New skills can always be taught as part of training initiatives so instead small businesses should place more focus on the qualities that people can bring to the role.

In today’s dynamic business climate, small businesses need to choose wisely by looking for potential employees that can bring fresh ideas into the organisation. Considering a broader range of factors, such as aspirations or entrepreneurship, will ensure that growing businesses recruit individuals that fit the role whilst having a positive impact on the fabric of the company.

Ultimately, small businesses need to recruit people that have strength of character and can become an integral part of their team. As a result, the ‘soft skills’ that someone can bring to the workforce should not be overlooked. Employing people that have a natural aptitude for communication, interpersonal capabilities and teamwork, can have a big impact on the workforce and customer experience, helping contribute £88 billion to the UK economy. As part of the recruitment process, businesses should look for people that will be able to navigate the complex dynamics of a workplace or who have the determination to succeed. ‘Soft skills’ are a fundamental part of everyday life so small businesses need to be able to nurture these talents sufficiently so that their organisation has the necessary capabilities to support its future growth and ambitions.

Related: Employers look for workers with soft skills as they struggle to fill talent gap

Initiating new recruits

To enable long-term growth, small businesses need to step up and ensure that employees get the training that will enable the organisation to continue developing. Increasingly the UK government is looking to help small businesses grow by offering them an opportunity to apply for a share of up to £240 million to create training programmes that address their skills need.

For example, this could be a dedicated or specialist training academy that provides new recruits with a period of formal training as part of their induction into the company. By using the first few weeks to take new starters through the history of the company, it will ensure that they understand their role within the business and how they can contribute to its ongoing development.

Any training academy should also consider how to deliver training that caters for different learning styles. A combination of e-learning, buddying, physical training and theoretical training should be used – this could be everything from providing new employees with training on products and services, to visiting clients or getting them to shadow other teams as part of the on-boarding process.

More importantly, don’t forget about new recruits once they’ve completed the induction period. These new recruits could one day become the leaders of our businesses. One-to-one coaching and regular check-in sessions are part of delivering the dedicated support and mentoring that is important in helping with career progression. By talking to new employees about their understanding of propositions, it’s possible to start thinking about the skills that they need to develop, for example, adopting new habits or learning new business strategies, to ensure future success.

Don’t forget engagement

Finally, remember to keep long-term employees engaged through initiatives that encourage their development too. Making sure that each individual is personally responsible in delivering excellence will help ensure that everyone has meaningful input into the direction of the business. By running accreditation programmes or providing additional training with external providers, organisations can equip existing staff with transferable skills that empower them to contribute to the improvement and design of the business.

Ultimately, all organisations want to curate a culture of innovation where new ideas and suggestions are actively encouraged. As a result, SMEs should focus on creating recruitment and training programmes that empower staff to develop entrepreneurial ideas and hold the potential to pay dividends. These organisations will be more successful in creating a motivated, empowered workforce that can help the business achieve scale even quicker. More importantly, it will create an ecosystem where a greater number of companies reach global scale to ensure the UK is one of the world’s leading economies for generations to come.

Lee Wade is CEO of Exponential-e.

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