Whether you run a small business or a large business, the recruitment process can often be as stressful as it is exciting. You’ve spent time, money, and effort on getting the right people into the right roles, and bringing somebody new into the company always comes with an element of risk. You want to get the right person in, but if you’re not ahead of yourself when it comes to recruitment planning, you also find yourself having to act quickly. This can lead to short-termism in recruitment, and high staff turnover.
If you’ve found yourself struggling to attract and retain the right employees for your business, you’re not alone. A recent study performed in the UK found that the majority of small-to-medium-sized enterprises have significant difficulties in attracting the right kind of skilled staff into their businesses, and even when they have them, they struggle to keep hold of them. The same trend has been noticed elsewhere in the developed world.
This fact leads to two problems. The first is that businesses who can’t find the right staff find themselves endlessly recruiting for the same positions. The vacancies are never truly filled, and as the vacancies are filled, the growth of the company is slowed down because it doesn’t have the right people to carry it forward. The second is that employee turnover becomes very high, and high staff turnover is off-putting to potential new recruits, turning the issue into a circular problem – you have to keep hiring because you can’t find the right staff, but you can’t hire because the fact that you keep hiring and firing puts people off working for you. In fact, having high employee turnover can even reduce the morale of your existing staff and make it more likely that they, too, will leave.
When you’ve reached the point where you have vacancies going spare, and new recruits coming in one month and then leaving the next, you’re effectively playing mobile slots with your staff. The strategy behind your recruitment process becomes the same as a strategy that mobile slots players use when chasing a jackpot – just keep putting money in and trying again in the hope that something good will happen. That works just fine in slot games because success is based on luck. Luck shouldn’t come into play with recruitment, and so you need to develop better hiring strategies to break the cycle and foster a better atmosphere.
One of the first things you should start doing is treating potential new recruits like you’d treat a valued customer. If you like the look of someone after an interview, and their references and checks are all positive, don’t keep them waiting for that phone call or that follow up email. Contact them immediately and let them know that you think they’re special and that you’d love to have them. If you get that impression from them while they’re in the interview room, hire them on the spot. The recruitment process is even more stressful for applicants than it is for employers, and applicants respond well to companies that treat them well and welcome them with open arms. By doing so, you’ll be creating loyalty with that member of staff from their very first day simply because they don’t feel like a cog in a wheel, and they haven’t just been recruited and then dumped inside the company and expected to work. Remember to follow up with them regularly in their first few weeks to make sure they’re happy and that they feel they’re making good progress. When staff are interviewed by one person and then never see them again after they’re appointed, it creates a disconnect.
Secondly, think very hard about promoting from within. Nothing is worse for staff morale than seeing an external hire come in and take a vacancy that they feel could have been theirs. It’s especially galling for them when they see the external candidate fail within the role, and then the failed candidate is replaced with yet another external hire. Nobody knows more about the culture of your company than the people who’ve worked for it for a long time. Make the most of the people you already have within your organization. Everyone who works for you should have a clear career path, and they should be allowed to follow that path upward unless there’s a very good reason to cap them at a certain level.
Progressing people from within your company will create vacancies at the lower levels, and this is why you should build positive relationships with local universities and academies. There’s no reason why a well-qualified person coming straight from education shouldn’t be able to come straight into your company as a ‘first job’ and you’ll often find that when you recruit people straight from education, they’ll stay with you for longer than someone who’s been hired from elsewhere and has experience of changing jobs. Getting a job is a big deal for them because it hasn’t happened before, and if you can present them with a clear career path, they may even stay with you for the next ten years. When the time comes for them to take the next step up within your organization, you can simply replace them with more recruits from those same educational facilities.
Following the above process means that you’ll have a strong blend of experience and youth within your ranks, and best of all, the people in the most senior positions within your company will also likely be those who’ve been with you for the longest, and therefore understand the way the company works better than any outsider ever could. You’ll have a business that has an organic feel, but also one that’s been precision-engineered to give you the best-qualified candidates for every vacancy that arises. If you do it right, five years from now, the only external candidates you’ll ever have to hire at all will be those who come straight from education, and everybody else will be someone who has grown with, and has an affinity for, your business.
Doesn’t that sound better than endlessly speaking to recruitment consultants about the quality of the referrals they’re providing you with? If so, give it a try. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.