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: The quick guide to attracting and retaining the best talent

The quick guide to attracting and retaining the best talent


The article The quick guide to attracting and retaining the best talent originally appeared in Business Zone

As an SME owner, I know the importance of having great people, in the right roles and what a hassle it can be to recruit and train new employees, especially if they then leave three months later.

Sadly, though, employees will always come and go and businesses will always need talented people; especially when they are attempting to grow rapidly. Therefore, attracting, engaging, developing and retaining great people is an imperative which has become particularly prominent in recent years. 

The good news is that these individuals are out there – you just need to attract the right ones, bring them in and keep them there

Where to start

Today’s talent is looking for a workplace with meaning, where they can contribute and progress.  They want to be proud to work for their employer. They want to have their voices heard and be treated with respect. 

And to find these organisations, job seekers do their research. In fact, a survey by CareerBuilder found that prospective candidates are consulting an average of 18 sources before they apply for a job. So if you’re not up-to-scratch as an employer, they will know.

Culture and values play a major part in getting this right and presenting to the world what a great place to work you are. While SMEs are more likely to have distinctive cultures – handed down from the entrepreneurs who founded them – as they grow, often this becomes diluted along the way.

So start here – what does your company stand for – think ‘how do we do things around here’? This needs a consistent approach from all leaders so they know exactly what this ‘looks like’ and can commit wholly to it. They can then ensure everyone’s on board with this and really does ‘sing the company song’.  Once you’re doing it, like you would a new product or service, market the hell out of it. Revise the people section on your website, make sure you’re talking it up on social media and your advocates are sharing it too. The greater your employer brand presence, the easier it will be to attract passive jobseekers to you and your organisation.

Have a people plan

As with any other key component of your business, leaders of SMEs must prioritise the people agenda in the boardroom. Those at the top (and this includes investors, NEDs and owners) must understand the vital importance of getting this right and get on board with the benefits of investing in the people stuff.

Yet, in a study conducted by engagement experts, Purple Cubed, while 100 percent of leaders stated that having a clear people strategy was critical to growth; 86% admitted that they didn’t have one or deliver on this which just isn’t good enough.

Putting a people plan in place is not about having an HR department - I’ve seen very successful SMEs that employ no internal HR resource at all, turning millions and winning prestigious people awards along the way.

This is about leaders taking responsibility for the attraction, engagement, development and retention of their people.  Setting a clear direction and tone for the people stuff and both leaders – and their employees - all knowing the part they have to play.

Once you prioritise the people agenda, retaining talent becomes a much easier challenge. There are, of course, countless ‘initiatives’ which support the engagement, motivation and loyalty of your people; however, they all start with strong culture and values and a focus on placing people strategy at the heart of the organisation.

And once you start to become recognised on those things, you will naturally become a ‘great place to work’, which attracts talented individuals that retains them longer than you do now and will boost not only productivity but innovation, profit and save on attrition costs.

So in summary, to attract and retain the best:

All business leaders need to understand and accept accountability for the ‘people stuff’

Put a simple yet robust plan in place – a blueprint for ‘how we do HR around here’. For an example see here

Deliver it, refine it, review it, feed it - remember this is a marathon not a sprint.

Jane's latest title ‘The People Formula: 12 Steps to Productive, Profitable, Performing Business’ is available online and in all good bookshops RRP £12.99

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