How should SMEs attract and retain talent?

Posted in Small & Medium Businesses | by Jiehui Kwa on 12 March 2018

Last updated on 2 November 2018

In an increasingly tight labour market, how should small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) attract and retain talent?

Rising labour costs, a limited pool of local highly-skilled labour and attracting and retaining younger workers were among the top HR challenges listed by firms, according to the National Business Survey 2017/2018 by the Singapore Business Federation. Of those surveyed, about 84% of respondents were SMEs, while the rest were large firms. Yet, the challenge of hiring, training and retaining labour in a manpower-lean economy is no stranger to all.

 

Yes, there is no doubt that SMEs are held up in the array of hiring challenges with the talent market volatility. But would SMEs really have to hire from the pool of leftovers that the big boys in the industry abandoned? Definitely not!

 

A little effort begets a little result and vice versa. To stand tall in this game, SMEs would have got to do something that makes the potential talent envious of working for them. A proactive and competitive SME with the right HR system can also attract, engage and get the most appropriate talents to stay.

 

Here are five must-read tips on how to excel in the game of talent acquisition and retention:

 

  • Understand the talent you are looking for

The first mistake many SMEs make is to trek the arduous talent search journey blindly. Understanding what employees value, their needs and aspirations for the job is important.

 

While monetary perks may be a basic consideration, it is no longer a deciding factor on its own. Well, people do work to get paid but it does takes more than just that to attract and retain talent, especially bright ones.

 

With millennials comprising 50% of the workforce by 2020, it is important to understand their expectations coming into the working world. Among them, is an overwhelming support towards the need for work-life balance.

 

This is echoed by Deloitte’s 2017 Millennial Survey, which highlighted the sentiment that flexible working practices bolstered millennial’s loyalty and foundation of trust towards their employers. Hence, understanding and encouraging such practices will definitely be a step forward to attract and retain young talent in SMEs.

 

  • Up your game by looking beyond the normal talent

It seems easier to get leads for potential talents by asking around. Who do you ask? Workmates and other human resource officers whom you can connect are possible choices. By establishing such a network of connections and referrals, you can be able to gauge your potential hires based on their innovativeness, personal and company achievements.

 

Don’t forget to use social media as well! Social media platforms such as LinkedIn can be of great help in procuring diverse talent especially if you want to look beyond the normal pool of talent for tech-savvy graduates with no industry experience, for instance.

 

  • Talk of other magnetic benefits you offer

Did you know that conventional way of thinking can kill creativity and probably prejudice your process for acquiring apt talent for your team? Don’t try to emulate the MNCs with the benefits you are offering your workers.

 

Instead, have your own uniqueness and share these special benefits with the staff. They could simply be fortnightly sport challenges or active suggestion boards incentives. It’s no crime to let your employees think of long-term success – that as the company grows, so will they grow.

 

You can win this game if you can instill passion in your current and potential employees. Show them an alternative route to the top by providing continuous learning beyond the traditional learning methods or those learning methods akin to bigger corporations. This will help to explore and attract new talents, while retaining the old.

 

  • Move with the tide

Continuous innovation in HR technology has made it easier for businesses to attract and retain talent.

 

The advent of HR cloud technology has enabled increased mobility and accessibility of HR processes. No longer are employees tide down to apply for leave through their computers nor take their time attendance through punch cards. The availability of mobile applications have changed the way HR works and employee engagement.

 

In a tight labour market, where outsourcing and hiring of freelancers is increasingly popular, increased connectivity among the remote workforce is a bonus. With reduced paperwork, employees will be better able to focus on their jobs than fret over endless administrative tasks.

 

As SMEs, a key advantage to attract and retain talent is the flexibility to adapt in the ever-changing economy. Minus the red-tape and bureaucracy of larger organisations, SMEs benefit from adopting new technology to engage better with their employees.

 

  • Sell your brand

Build your brand through various marketing channels, both online and offline. This will not just increase customer sales but will help in brand recall and employee identification as well.

 

When trying to attract potential employees, it is much easier to reach out to them if you can skip the introduction of who you are and what your company does.

 

Ultimately, your employees are still the number one brand ambassadors and customers of your company. Give everyone a chance to represent your business in social gatherings or informal meet-ups. Show your employees that you trust them, and so will they show their loyalty to the company.

 

Still finding it hard to attract and retain talent? Looking for some government incentives that can help you drive productivity? JustLogin organizes frequent HR Grants Workshops to share about grants that help to tackle a variety of HR challenges. Check it out here.

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