Size Doesn’t Matter, Talent Does

Julian Wenban, Head of Online Portals at SHL explains why talent management is no longer out of reach of small businesses.

Never before has the role of the entrepreneur, the small business and the start-up been so high on the national agenda. Just recently, the Government set out a series of measures intended to help inspire, support and grow business start-ups – it’s all part of what David Cameron is calling an “enterprise-led recovery.”

But what does the future hold for those start-ups which have established themselves already? Perhaps they already have premises, a small but talented team and a modest turnover, but how can these small businesses continue to grow and compete in a pond sometimes dominated by very big fish?

In particular, how can smaller firms ensure they are getting the best value from what should be their most treasured asset – their people? After all, failure to retain a key salesperson or to make the right hire could be disastrous.

Making the right choice

The ability to accurately identify the best candidate for a job, or “talent management” as it’s often referred to, is usually the remit of the larger firms who typically have a budget to invest in the tools and expertise to facilitate it. However, in the current climate of cuts, increased VAT and unemployment, it’s more vital than ever that SMEs have the tools to make correct hiring decisions.

For example, tools like psychometric assessments and personality tests provide much more data on a person than is ever visible in an interview alone. According to the Spencer and Spencer Iceberg model, hiring decisions that rely on interviews generally only see between ten and 30 per cent of a person, meaning in a worst case scenario, the candidate you end up hiring could still be 70 per cent unsuitable for the role.

Assessment for everyone

At SHL, we already deliver around 15 million assessments annually, working with some of the world’s biggest brands. However, we believe that smaller firms should have exactly the same access to robust, objective people management tools as larger organisations. So, whether you are an HR manager needing to recruit a new team member very quickly or a general manager needing to evaluate potential recruits or assess the development needs of your team, the tools should be there for you to do so. After all, we all face the same or similar issues at work, regardless of the size of our turnover. The one big difference is whether we have the dedicated HR resources to deal with them.

That’s why we launched the SHL Central website last year, giving self-service online access to our assessment range. We decided to make packaged solutions available that are quick, easy to use by anyone (not just HR) and offer value for money while not compromising on quality. The aim was to help SMEs by opening up affordable, world class assessment to them – give them big business quality at small business cost.

Spotting the risk-takers

It isn’t just all about recruitment either. While having the necessary tools in place will save SMEs time and money when it comes to recruiting, solutions are available to deal with the majority of people management issues.

Take, for example, health and safety in the workplace. It is estimated that about 70% of accidents in industrial environments can be attributed to people making mistakes – so it is vital to have some way of being able to avoid hiring employees who are not appropriately safety conscious. Large companies like Nissan have long been able to use assessments to identify which of their workforce and candidates pose a safety risk, but this might not have been previously available to their smaller parts suppliers.

Similarly, the retention of top performers is critical for any business, regardless of size. Their loss can pose a major threat. Therefore it is vital to recognise and understand key individuals’ needs and motivators to ensure they remain productive and engaged. Assessment tools can provide this information, giving small businesses with the best possible chance of holding onto that top talent – something that they will need if they are to lead Cameron’s economic recovery.

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