Can you give employees what they really want? Latest hiring tips for small businesses

- January 19, 2023 4 MIN READ
diverse group of people with hands in a circle

If you’re a sole trader or micro-business owner ready to recruit a new staff member but feel as though you can’t compete with bigger businesses for the best talent, think again. There are three key things employees are looking for from their employer, and small businesses are well-placed to provide them, writes Lensa CEO, Gergo Vari.

It could be argued that a company’s greatest resource is its employees. In today’s labour environment, which consists of quiet quitting and a global labour shortage, the challenge for employers and HR managers (regardless of the size of the company) to meet their hiring requirements has never been greater.

Top 3 hiring tips for small business owners

When hiring, it’s important to be smart, establish well-defined criteria, and avoid the ever-present pitfalls that can send recruiters into a spiral of unintended (yet perfectly predictable) consequences.

In this short article, we’ll give you three tips for how you, as a small business owner, can maximise your chances of getting the most out of your recruitment strategy.

happy team in office

Tip 1: Prioritise soft skills

Soft skills, otherwise known as transferable skills or human skills, describe how employees work, as opposed to technical skills, which describe what they are capable of working on or with.

Some of the more frequently talked about soft skills include:

  • Communication skills (oral and written)
  • Adaptability (adjusting to new tools, processes and environments)
  • Teamwork (including leadership and integration)
  • Presentation skills (drafting and giving presentations)
  • Time management (which consists of organisational skills and prioritisation)
  • Problem-solving
  • Critical thinking

In a business environment that is constantly changing and evolving (in large part due to advancements in technology and the subsequent modification of consumer habits and expectations), technical skills have a much shorter lifespan than soft skills. This is especially true for small businesses, as there is a greater likelihood that the company will experience quick growth that will bring about major changes to internal processes and procedures.

For small business owners, hiring employees that have demonstrated excellent soft skills is a must. It also pays to nurture soft skills as that will serve to strengthen company culture and improve an employer’s employee retention rate.

Young woman with prosthetic arm working at desk on laptop

Tip 2: Embrace diversity

A diverse workforce can be understood as having employees from a variety of different backgrounds. This includes, of course, diversity in gender and ethnicity, but it should extend well beyond those two factors. Diversity in regional and economic backgrounds, as well as age groups, physical ability and social affiliations, also matters.

Embracing diversity in the workforce brings about many benefits:

  • A better understanding of a company’s diverse customer base
  • An increased likelihood of customers identifying with a company and/or its brand
  • An increase in innovation with more diverse perspectives and diversity in approaches to problem-solving
  • A better company reputation
  • An increase in employee retention

These benefits all translate to more profits and a healthier business going forward.

However, a more diverse workforce also comes with its unique set of challenges. But with attention and a concerted effort, they are easily overcome (and it’s well worth it to do so). Embracing diversity consists of embracing good communication practices and transparency. Prepare for a multi-generational workforce, prepare for employee diversity, and reap the rewards of a healthier company culture.

Listen to the Flying Solo podcast for tips on retaining the best staff:

Tip 3: Offer your employees flexibility

Flexibility in the workplace can mean different things to different people, and may include:

  • Flexible working hours
  • Hybrid work – a mix of working from home versus from the office
  • Shifting roles
  • A wider choice of work tools and reporting requirements

There are two main reasons why, as a small business owner, you will want to make sure you offer your employees flexibility (in many forms).

Offering flexibility will greatly improve your chances of attracting and retaining top talent:

Today’s recruitment environment is highly competitive. This leverage has largely shifted away from the employer in favour of the employee. The reality of this new dynamic is that whenever it is reasonable, employers need to make a concerted effort to make their open positions appealing to prospective employees. This goes beyond simply offering high compensation (although that remains a significant selling point for top talent).

Offering flexibility allows employees to work in the way that is best suited to take advantage of their unique talents:

Not everyone works or learns in the same way. For example, some people work best from home. Others work best when surrounded by people. Some people thrive under pressure, whereas others crumble and fail. We could go on citing the differences in work styles. What’s important is to allow people to work in the environment and in the context that best suits them. This is a crucial way to increase the likelihood that you have happy and productive employees. It will also go a long way to increasing your employee retention rate.

In a nutshell

Getting your recruitment right is key to the health and long-term success of your small business.

It’s important to make the job appealing to top talent (this means embracing diversity and offering flexibility). And it’s also important to increase your chances of recruiting talent that will stay and thrive with your business. Embracing diversity and offering flexibility will help in this regard, as will prioritising soft skills over technical skills.

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Now read this:

Roxanne Calder’s top tips on retaining the best team

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