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5 Ways Small Businesses Can Attract and Retain Talent

By: Marilyn Vinch



It’s an oft-cited cliché, but the success of a business and a small business in particular depends very much on the talent and efforts of its people. It is both the individual stars and the solid working relationships between those individuals that determine whether a small business sinks or swims.

Below you’ll find a list of five simple ways in which SMEs can make sure they are attracting and retaining top talent.
1. Use talent acquisition as a marketing opportunity
The recruitment process can serve as a strong branding tool if well thought out and properly managed. Small business owners should be aware of the recruitment process’s ability to put the company across in either a positive or negative light.
Be sure to develop thorough job descriptions that describe the company culture in detail (including perks such as company events and bonus schemes). Develop a professional-looking careers section on your company website that will get people excited about the business.
2. Define clear expectations 
As part of the process, ensure that you make it clear what you expect from a prospective employee. That way you can be more certain of landing the right kind of talent. Effective communication and trust are at the heart of this. Define clear expectations, setting out day-to-day tasks and experience/qualifications required on the job spec. But don’t stop there! Learn more about a prospect’s background, life and career goals. Make the right people feel welcome from the off, inviting them to tour the office after their interview.
3. Encourage employee work/life balance 
But it shouldn’t be all about work, work, and more work. Encouraging a work/life balance is one of the greatest ways to ensure that you retain the top talent at your business. HR software company Breathe HR recently went on record as saying that small to medium sized enterprises had a fantastic opportunity to gain a competitive advantage by spending time away from core tasks to develop employees, both as people and members of the organization.
Offering workers time away from the office to work at home, allowing them to bring their children or pets into the office for the day or organizing midweek out-of-hours events will go a long way towards striking up a good balance.
4. Promote from within whenever possible
It’s also important to make employees aware that they have a realistic chance of progressing through the ranks of the organization, if they work hard. When you take somebody from outside into a position one of your most talented members of staff had their eye on, you’ll most likely begin to foster an environment of frustration, at worst losing that member of staff to a similar position at a rival company.
Once you do start to take on staff from outside and the organization grows, be sure to hire a human resources professional to streamline processes. Make their life simpler by investing in a solid HR software platform to monitor progress and subsequent internal promotions.
5. Create a bonus structure
In addition to offering a standard base salary, entice top talent with a bonus structure. This will be a way of showing your employees that you care, without feeling pressured into dishing out promotions for the sake of it. You could offer the option of free shares in the company, financial hand-outs for loyal service (1, 2 and 5 years) and an annual bonus based on the meeting of targets and completion of set objectives.
All in all it’s about planning your recruitment drive, communicating properly with employees and rewarding their hard work. Attracting talent is the easy bit; it’s retaining talent that’s the most difficult yet ultimately satisfying task.
Published: July 26, 2013

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Marilyn Vinch

Marilyn Vinch is a freelance writer and human resources specialist who’s been working in the HR sector for the past 6 years. If you’ve enjoyed this article, make sure you follow her on Twitter and connect with her on Google+.

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