Take 10: 5 top tips for hiring and retaining talent

Quick and simple ways to boost your business in just 10 minutes

For the latest in our Take 10 series, we’re looking at how to hire and retain the best employees to help progress your business in 2017.

Talent

We all know that staff turnover costs business owners time and productivity. However, most businesses don’t regularly calculate the cost of losing good staff. ‘The Cost of Brain Drain’ report by Oxford Economics concluded that the loss of an employee earning £25,000 a year or more costs a business on average £30,000. This significant figure includes all the logistic costs of finding a new worker and the impact of getting them up to speed.

It may seem obvious, but a key way to retain good staff is making sure you find the right person for a particular role when hiring. This should be someone who’s technically capable, but is also a good cultural fit for your business. It’s said to be particularly important to have employees with social intelligence in a small business; people who are able to navigate social situations and work well with others, remembering that lots of practical skills required for a job can be learnt.

Once you’ve found the best candidates, however, there are simple measures you can take to ensure your workforce remain happy and productive. Below, we’ve set out just some of the ways you could make this happen for your business:

1)    Having a clear business mission can help foster loyalty

Having a clear business mission and making sure your employees know their part in achieving this goal is a good way to keep people mentally and emotionally tied to your company. For example, if you run a chocolate factory, your overall mission might be producing top quality chocolate but you need your workforce to collaborate and produce an extra 500 boxes a month in 2017 to increase turnover.

Small business employees, in particular, tend to have a breadth of responsibilities so it’s important to communicate exactly what a job entails and what you need or expect from your staff. Setting achievable goals can help employees feel satisfied whilst keeping your business on track to reaching your overarching goal.

These goals will also help you reward employees who do a good job either by recognising their achievements publicly or in terms of a monetary reward, for example a bonus scheme or salary increase, to keep staff motivated. Many businesses also reward staff loyalty by giving those who meet performance goals and work for a number of years at the business extra holiday for example.

2)    Finding out why your employees like working for you can help you focus

You may think that your workforce is happy, but unless you ask them you can’t be certain you know exactly why they like working for you – it may not be exactly what you expect! Conducting employee surveys, or simply asking employees what motivates them at work and what they like or dislike, is a good way to understand what makes your business a good place to work. It can also help you cultivate a good working environment, and make simple changes which could have a big impact. It’s important to remember, however, that some employees may feel happy giving feedback in person whereas others might prefer filling in a short survey.

Contributing to the future of the business by taking part in a feedback initiative will give your employees a sense of ownership and responsibility, and will help foster loyalty. Talking to your employees on a regular basis can also help make sure your business is adaptable should circumstances change and will ensure you can all work to the same new goal.

3)    Clear career development structures can help boost morale and productivity

Are your employees aware of the development opportunities and training you are willing to offer to further their careers? Outlining your approach to career development and giving employees a clear path to advancement is a good way to help boost morale and productivity.

This could be making sure your managers spend time coaching employees, which will help good performers while minimising poor performance, or sending employees on external training courses which could benefit both you and them. For example, if you run a cafe and your top employee wants to go on a nutrition course think about how you might be able to use this new skill set to benefit your business.

Promoting from within is also a good way to boost morale and reward your best workers. Although in some circumstances you may need certain skills or a fresh approach to a particular project which can come with an external hire, where possible giving your staff opportunities to progress internally can help motivate all your employees. The challenge will be ensuring you build up a pipeline of employees suitable for promotion.

4)    Offering competitive benefits can help show you care about your employees

Following the Pensions Act 2008, businesses must now have a pension scheme and contribute to employees pensions. However, offering additional benefits such as health insurance, for example, can help give you the edge when hiring employees and research shows it will also result in reducing the time your workers are off sick.

Other perks you could consider include offering flextime or allowing your staff to work from home if appropriate. These types of benefits can go a long way to showing you’re willing to accommodate your employees outside lives and will empower them.

5)    Everyone loves a freebie!

Whether it’s free fruit in the office, breakfast on your boss once a month, a couple of beers on a Friday afternoon or being able to have their online shopping parcels delivered to the office, small gestures, which don’t necessarily have to be a significant financial expense to your business, show that you care and want to help your employees manage their lives. Your employees will appreciate the gesture and these small acts could help keep them happy and healthy, which will ultimately benefit your bottom line.

These are just 5 ways you could motivate and maintain your workforce. As mentioned however, small business employees and their owners often have lots of responsibilities, so once your business reaches a certain size it’s worth considering hiring a human-resources specialist to oversee and streamline your employee structure and processes. This could take a load off of you and will ensure your employees are treated fairly.

We hope you found this post useful. In the next instalment of Take 10, we’ll be looking at reputation management.

The Funding Circle team

Rob McCorquodale