Talent Management in Smaller Businesses

Talent management in smaller businesses – a crucial factor in stimulating growth in the economy and restoring confidence

Business expert Julian Wenban of SHLJulian Wenban, head of online business at SHL, discusses today’s talent challenges, the importance of job-matching, and what the smaller business can do to find, hire and retain the right staff

The role of SMEs in the economy is often underestimated, when the reality is that they form its backbone and will play a fundamental role in driving its recovery. With so much riding on their success, SMEs must be as careful with business decisions as their larger counterparts – in particular their hiring and employee development decisions.

The issue of talent is high on the business agenda this year. Talent mobility, the movement of people between roles at all levels in an organisation, was one of the four themes discussed at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January. One aspect of its report stressed the importance of efficient job ‘matching’ – the need for businesses take on candidates who are the right fit for the job.

If new hires turn out to be incompatible with an organisation, it can have devastating effects, especially for a smaller company where each member of staff has more of a personal impact. Moreover, a 2010 PwC study found that staff turnover, in part due to mismatched hiring, was costing UK businesses £42bn a year!

With growing unemployment, recruiters are becoming increasingly challenged by the significant increase in speculative applications, with no corresponding increase in volume of candidates with the right skills applying for jobs. Sourcing high quality talent with the appropriate skills to drive the business forward is an acute challenge, especially when you need to act quickly.

According to a survey carried out by The Chemistry Group, 68% of HR Directors in the FTSE 250 admitted that they would not choose to take on existing personnel again – pretty damning. But a study commissioned by SHL in 2011 suggests this problem is not limited to large enterprise. Of the 250 small businesses polled, 88% had regretted hiring a particular individual in the previous 12 months.

This can’t all be down to bad luck, so what measures can small businesses take to ensure the right hiring and placement decisions are made first time, and to secure the best talent that is appropriate for them?

The CV and interview may be mainstays of the recruitment process, but affordable, proven online tools available to SMEs, such as SHL’s JobMatch, enable organisations to match a candidate’s potential to job-specific requirements, quickly and effectively. A manager can assess candidates online for their degree of fit to a job, before selecting a shortlist for interview – saving them time and reducing risk.

But there is an apparent misconception about talent assessment. Our research discovered that 87% of small businesses think it is too expensive, unnecessary or exclusively for use by large organisations. The reality couldn’t be more different. It’s true that talent assessment has been mainly used by larger enterprises, but that trend is changing as world class assessment solutions become more accessible to all sizes of business. 2012 is a year to restore confidence in small business to stimulate growth – finding, hiring and retaining the right talent will be an important part of this success.

Here are four considerations to take away:

  • Have a good look at your ‘employer brand’ – how do your employees, website and premises reflect the business and what it’s like to work there? This has a direct bearing on whether you attract the right job candidates in the first place. Adopting an objective recruitment process will also ensure that those you don’t hire at least go away with a positive perception of your organisation.

  • Pay real attention to properly defining a job you want to recruit for, by being clear about what a successful person will look like in that role and in your organisation – their skills, behaviour, competencies and cultural fit. Make sure you follow this through by selecting an individual with a good match to what is required. Online tools such as SHL JobMatch can help you through this process.

  • Use the information you capture during the recruitment process to ‘onboard’ new staff – this is critical to ensuring the person you’ve just hired doesn’t slip through your fingers within six months, and you get the absolute best from them. Each employee should have clear objectives and a personal development plan, based on a firm understanding of their personal motivators. Again, online assessment can play a key role in exploring the motivations of a new starter.

  • And finally, remember that your employees are your most valuable assets – small businesses that understand and realise the potential of their people achieve outstanding results. Making the right hiring and placement decisions first time is the key to increased productivity and reduced cost, so treat them as among your most important business decisions.

We’re offering a free trial of SHL JobMatch to is4profit readers. Just click here and follow the instructions to get started.

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