The hr & recruitment challenges smes face and how to overcome them

By Ketan Dettani 3 years ago . 3 minute read

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are the lifeblood of the UK economy accounting for 99.3% of the private sector and providing 60% of all employment. When it comes to growing your business, investing in your staff is a core ingredient to making it successful. And yet many SMEs struggle to recruit the very best people in to their business.

In the early stages of business, SMEs come up against a lot of different challenges. Some are harder than others to overcome and recruiting staff is often one of the biggest challenges for SMEs. Recruiting the right people is crucial for any business, but this is even more in focus for smaller businesses.

Attracting and securing new employees can be a costly and time-consuming process, and with much of this often coming directly from cash flow, it’s easy to see why smaller business owners experience challenges. Especially since small business executives tend to feel under-resourced to begin with and if you don’t hire well, employee turnover can be very, very expensive. The selection of the “right” people is not an easy task and for SMEs and it becomes even more difficult due to limited resources and break-even pressure. Because of the high costs of hiring right, it’s important to invest a significant amount of time in the hiring process. A more strategic approach to hiring can ensure that any organisational workforce challenges can be addressed – whether that be because the eventual hires have the right skills, are a strong cultural fit, have long-term potential, or, ideally, all three. It is these employees that will help your company get to the next level.

Although there are challenges for recruiting in small businesses most are relatively simple to fix.

5 primary recruitment challenges

  • A vacancy arises within your company and after advertising it, you receive hundreds of CVs from completely unsuitable candidates. Whilst this might seem like the perfect solution, you can become disheartened very quickly as you sift through each CV and cover letter, only to find each one relatively useless. Writing a Job Description is a skill. Why not get someone else give you some pointers or proofread what you have written therefore maximising the chance of attracting the right candidates.
  • You get a vacancy within your company, advertise it and you receive very few or no applications. Recruiting new staff should be a time where you assess how your company is seen by job seekers. After all, they are the people you are trying to attract. If they don’t see potential in your company, they’re not going to apply for your vacancies and you could be missing out on the best talent. Other methods you may wish to consider using include head-hunting via social media and promoting your brand by telling others what it’s like to work there. If you want to recruit the right people, you need the right strategy. Your social media channels should be populated with interesting and relevant content so that you look ‘alive’ and give people a sense of what your company stands for. Ultimately, you want a candidate to look at your on-line presence and think ‘this looks like somewhere they would want to work.
  • How to get your hands on the best talent out there when there are so many other companies out there trying to chase down the same staff you are. Owners of SMEs very often feel that it seems impossible to get their jobs known in the market. Even when they do, some small businesses fear that they are not as desirable a place to work or they simply don’t think they can communicate that they are a great place to work as easily as the big companies who have deeper pockets for marketing and advertising. Instead of hiring the cheapest candidates you can find, try to hire people who have experience or show signs of being independent self-starters. When you do this, you’ll discover that you’ve created an organisation of people who don’t need to be micromanaged in order to be successful. This benefits everyone and allows the company to maximise its resources. Small businesses have advantages. An SME is much less bureaucratic than those organisations. This allows employees to work quicker and more efficiently. As a small company, employees have the chance to make a big difference, from the moment they start. They are at the forefront of the organisation and they have the opportunity to have a say in which direction it goes in. This is something they won’t necessarily get from a larger organisation.
  • How to retain the talent once you’ve got it. Traditionally, SMEs have faced bigger challenges with staff retention because there is sometimes limited room for growth. However, SMEs can adopt strategies to make sure their staff stick around. Making staff feel like a valued part of the company is a great way to make sure they stay around for longer. Ensure you have a long term plan in place so you can reward and therefore retain skilled staff. If you have in house training and opportunities for more responsibility within the company, involve your staff in this. Training should form part of the personal development plan which is set out for each member of staff.
  • Employee morale. Beyond good monetary rewards against their services, employees expect respect, recognition, professional growth, and promotions from their organisations. How do you keep staff morale high so that they enjoy coming into work every day? The culture and atmosphere of your workplace is likely to be the determining factor that affects staff morale. One way to do this is by offering employee perks to boost staff morale and staff well-being and these are all great not just for staff retention but also for attracting staff to apply for your vacancy in the first place. Offer a bonus or incentive schemes which are relevant, achievable, accessible and motivational. Ultimately the best people can have a significant, positive impact on how the business performs, so, therefore, you must acknowledge that it is important to make an effort to attract and talented people by offering a good work-life balance, flexible working, and valuable training.

About Ketan Dettani

Founder and CEO, Buckingham Futures

Ketan is the founder and CEO of Buckingham Futures, a specialist Recruitment Business that provides bespoke permanent and temporary recruitment and consultancy solutions to public and private sector employers. Ketan has a high profile within the Recruitment sector and is widely recognised as an expert on Employment Law, Employee rights, CV writing and for providing Careers Advice.