One of the biggest risks every expanding company faces is employing good people. Hiring the right people can make or break a small firm. Building a hardworking and dedicated team can really supercharge a company’s growth. But, taking on people who aren’t up to scratch or who can’t work together can be a big drag on a small business.
Any firm with ambitions to grow should think about the ‘brand’ it wants to create as an employer. It might sound fluffy, but there’s hardheaded business sense in writing down what you want your company’s culture, values and way of doing things to be. Plenty of small businesses expect to have regular staff turnover, but if a company’s best employees leave or feel unhappy then that could have a tangible impact on the businesses revenues and profits.
Drinks maker, Innocent, and Mind Candy, the makers of Moshi Monsters, believe that having motivated and engaged employees boosts the whole company and therefore go out of their way to pamper their workers.
Small businesses probably won’t be able to offer the same salary or career prospects as a larger company, so they need to be a bit more creative in how they attract and retain the right people – putting themselves in a prospective applicant’s shoes and asking: “Why should they want to work for us?”
Offering benefits that may not cost the earth, such as flexible working arrangements or a birthday day off, can help convince workers that their employer cares. . Whilst offering your best workers something that means a lot to them, like a family ticket to a theme park or a spa day, could provide an alternative to performance-based bonuses that are often unaffordable to smaller businesses.
Finding the right people
Once the right working environment has been created, employers need to find the right people to work for them.
Before starting the recruitment process, it’s a good idea to make a list of attributes that the dream candidate should have. Otherwise how will an employer know who their ideal applicant is? But, rather than obsess over qualifications or whether the candidate knows how to use a particular computer program, it would be better to decide which characteristics are required for the role. Research shows that how well someone does a job is more to do with their personality than their education, experience and skills. So, do they need to be bright, friendly, enthusiastic, hardworking or able to work well under pressure? Then, to make life easier when selecting which candidates to interview, employers should ask them to provide covering letters describing how they’ve shown the desired traits.
People returning from career breaks combine lots of experience and transferrable skills that could also be ideal for the job. Who better to deal with an irate customer than someone who’s spent the past year talking down a fiery-tempered toddler?
Doing it right
Once the right person for the job has been found, it’s important to get the paperwork right, even if the intention is to hire just one person to begin with who happens to be a friend or relative. Both the employee and employer are vulnerable if there isn’t a written agreement in place that sets out clearly what the employer wants from the employee, and what they can expect from the employer in terms of pay, working hours, holiday entitlement, benefits, and so on. A contract protects employers just as much as it does employees. The government website, www.gov.uk, provides a lot of essential information on hiring. For businesses to be firing on all cylinders, so too do employees. Communicating with staff is a fundamental part of ensuring they’re raring to come into work each morning.
It’s important to be very clear with employees with regards to what is expected of them.
If someone’s doing a great job then make sure the rest of the team know, so they can become a role model for them. Equally, if a worker isn’t living up to expectations then employers shouldn’t just ignore it and hope they’ll improve. If an employee isn’t realising their full potential, then neither is the business.
Keeping them safe and sound
Part of taking care of employees is making sure they’re safe at work through regular health and safety assessments, regardless of whether they operate a sewing machine, a till or a computer. Also, every company needs to have employers’ liability insurance as soon as it makes its first hire, just in case it needs to pay for compensation claims resulting from workplace injury – whether that’s job-related stress or tripping over an electrical lead. Having the right insurance provides employers with peace of mind so that even as the business grows, the risks are also under control.
Our preferred partner of business insurance, Hiscox, understand how important client reputations are and tailor their cover and claims procedures to ensure that relationships can be protected and preserved where possible. Hiscox are experts in small business insurance and understand the various risks your small business faces. This means should the unexpected happen, their comprehensive cover will help to keep your business reputation intact.
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