The View From… is a series of blogs where we speak to experts in different professions and gather their learnings and lessons from their work with small business clients. Mandy Watson is the managing director of recruitment and HR specialists, Ambitions Personnel.
When it comes to HR and recruitment, it’s often said that the two must peacefully co-exist to work best for business. This has never been truer than right now. There are real issues within the industry that have always been prevalent but seem more immediate than ever. Businesses are ambitious, forward-thinking and are delivering amazing projects, but are also facing somewhat of a stumbling block when it comes to the wider picture.
Let’s take a look at some of the issues and key points small businesses need to think about…
Skills shortages loom large over what we do
Many small businesses are founded and make a success of themselves before this problem ever raises its head, but once it does, it can stifle progress and can become a real headache. What we are faced with at present is many sectors wanting to grow, but with limited talent pools to recruit from.
This means, of course, a race for the best candidates. There has never been a better time to skill up and take on the jobs market as a potential employee.
Time to take a chance on potential?
As much as there is concern about the state of employment, here in 2019 we are enjoying an employment rate that is high. This means fewer candidates and presents a unique challenge for businesses. Do you recruit only at the level you need or do you take on the untrained candidate with potential and mould them in your company’s image?
Brexit continues to stifle planning
Brexit has led to a confidence problem in recruitment and HR. Businesses may be running themselves into the ground on not enough staff as they want to ‘weather the storm’ and see where Brexit might steer us in terms of finances. Others may be rattled as they seek to compete against companies with high salaries and elaborate perks and incentives.
Don’t be short-sighted when it comes to recruitment
As time-consuming as recruitment can be, let alone how costly it is, there are many things companies can do to mitigate any problems. Time and time again, we see simple recruitment aspects being ignored and frankly, it has to stop. It is a costly process, so getting aspects of the process wrong seems short-sighted in this day and age.
We always point people towards two things, placing attraction over assessment, and making sure your hiring time is fast. In a buyers’ market, those who do not see the company culture or are treated in the correct manner will soon up and leave. A slow recruitment process or a lack of communication can really make the difference between gaining or alienating a potentially brilliant candidate.
A positive brand image is important
Branding is also crucial and is something we try and hammer home regularly. For example, are you aware of your current perception among those looking for work? Overall, we see a chasm between expectations and reality when it comes to company culture. Profess to something you think potential candidates want to hear and then not delivering is certainly a fast track to a bad reputation.
Not paying this marketing need any attention is equally suicidal if you are seeking to grow your company. HR is at the heart of every business’s journey, it is best not to forget that.
Hire outside of your comfort zone
Nobody wants to admit it, but discrimination is still rife under the surface of all corporate job descriptions. In recent years, we have found that those who have enjoyed the most diverse and enviable work cultures are those that don’t simply hire to the letter but explore all their options.
One aspect of this is limiting your talent pool before you even begin. You can do this unconsciously, easily and without noticing at times. For example, there is a wealth of potential in taking on apprentices, school leavers, women returning to the workplace following motherhood or even older candidates. With sufficient and apt onboarding procedures, there is a lot to be said for hiring outside of your comfort zone. The energy or wisdom that such hires can add to your overall workforce and their motivation can be huge.
Talking openly can help to deal with stress
Mental health is being talked about constantly at the moment, and with good reason. As there are so many days lost to stress each year, it’s not only harmful for employees to be suffering so badly, but it’s also costing your business valuable time and money.
This issue is also about retention, being understanding and actually acting on the concerns of employees can work wonders. After all, an employee who feels trusted and valued will most likely stay with you longer and is far more likely to be productive when they are in work.
Consider setting up mentors to support those new to roles or coping with busy schedules. Sometimes talking about certain issues can alleviate pressure as it builds, leading to a calmer and more pleasant workplace.
A continuous feedback loop will help you understand your failings
If you are struck by too many people leaving, try and understand where you are falling down. To simply ignore it could be disastrous. A continuous feedback loop of reviews and staff discourse can work wonders in this situation. Subsequent action on points raised will also endear staff to your culture. If their issues are listened to, acted on and fixes are attempted, then the sky really is the limit.
A positive company culture works wonders
We often wonder whether this issue is being taken seriously.
Worryingly, in the UK, around a third of British employees quit their job due to poor workplace culture (Breathe HR), which includes poor management practices. Some of the top reasons cited included not feeling trusted, or a feeling of distrust towards management, lack of transparency and too many internal politics.
Benefits of a positive culture include improved morale and relationships, improved productivity and better customer service. These reasons rank higher than pay and financial reward. Rather than being concerned by this, this is where small businesses can use this to their advantage.
Remember to address development and perks
Management training is also key – someone could be great at doing their job, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be good at managing people. Effective line managers should stand to ensure their teams are coached and developed to reach their potential.
The responsibility also falls to line managers, who are often key to ensuring wellbeing and happiness of the workforce. They key here is to ensure that know how to spot signs and what to do about it.
Overall, we see so many instances of HR and recruitment setbacks that could be avoided and calmed easily, it sometimes helps to take a step back and consider the wider frame. There’s a lot to be said for taking stock and examining policies.
Business is hard enough, you shouldn’t add to that with more headaches.