How can SMEs attract and retail talent 2023 ?

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How can SMEs attract and retail talent 2023 ?

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SMEs undoubtedly have the advantages of flexibility and quickly pivoting their business operations as compared to large MNCs. But when it comes to attracting and retaining employees, most SMEs lack. As per the national survey done by Singapore Business Federation, 20% of the SMEs face the problem of limited local human resources and hiring highly skilled staff. The giant players in the market are able to attract and retain a robust workforce. The reasons are the following:

  • Attractive perks offered by large companies
  • Brand name under the candidate’s CV
  • Opportunities to explore within the different segments of the business
  • Innovative programs for learning and enhancement of skills

Any business that wants to scale, needs the best talent besides capital and loan financing. Without talented people, an organization cannot sustain itself for the long term. Millennials are the future of the economy and industrial growth. Therefore, it’s important to understand their expectations and needs which are way different in today’s era in comparison to the old.

It is high time for SMEs to develop strategies for attracting skilled staff to continue growing in Singapore’s highly competitive market. Here’s how can SMEs attract and retain young professionals.

Exhibit a strong career development plan for employees

If you show your employees that you care about their professional growth, it becomes a motivation for them to work hard for your company. Showcase an attractive career development plan before them which works as a win-win game for you as well as your staff.

What is a great development plan?

How SMEs attract and retain talent

An ideal career development plan focuses on employees’ both personal and professional growth. If the plan only targets the professional area, your staff might consider it as a company specific goal. Each departmental head should meet and discuss strategies on how to build better career plans. For instance, you can create a plan where an employee can see his/her career growth along with tools to acquire such growth such as training, mentoring, any particular skill learning, etc.

The most important factor in any plan is to mark the timing of achieving milestones. For example, you can list dates by which the targets should be achieved by the employee. The plan should be signed by both you and your employee and should be handed over to the HR department for review and appraisal. The review period can be set as per your company’s policy.

With a career development plan, employees find themselves charged to work the extra mile and achieve their true potential. Once you successfully launch this plan in your small or medium organization, the staff will admire your efforts and stay with you for the long term. 

Hold a strong track record of employees

Employees who want to secure themselves financially, desire permanent roles. If you have a high employee retention rate year after year, don’t forget to highlight this to your potential employee. Such employees love to know the company they are applying for is not only capable to provide a long-term job but also a thriving secure future.

As an SME, it’s hard to spend huge money on corporate seminars and meet-ups. As an alternative to this, you should continuously hold internal and department-wise meet-ups where the brightest employees are awarded and appreciated for their hard work over the last years. Show them they are your assets and not an expense.

Give access to remote work

How SMEs attract and retain talent

After the hit of Covid-19, almost every large company found itself in a position to shift its work online. And now, it is the most popular work culture that most employees want for them. SMEs who do not adapt themselves to the changes in business cultures, lose their talent. It is advised that you must embrace and experiment with the ‘work from home’ practice to provide your staff with work comfort.

A great advantage of remote work is you can attract talent from anywhere around the world. Top companies follow this practice and sustain talent for a longer duration. Digital technologies have enabled companies to reduce their cost of acquiring talent. Therefore, you must also take advantage of it and implement remote work culture in your small and medium business.

Besides remote work practice, a hybrid work option is also in trend. Under the hybrid work model, employees are required to work from the office for specific days in a week and rest from home. This is a culture many companies and employees find useful. You can also consider this option for your workforce.

Promote your corporate brand

One of the reasons we discussed above why large can retain and attract more talent is simply the brand name. The big companies ensure that their brand is promoted by conveying the company’s vision and mission. However, small companies lack in this area and as a result, it becomes difficult for an employee to stay.

If you fail to tell what your USP (unique selling product) is to your internal people then how can you expect external people to buy your product/service? What you need to do is convey what your brand stands for.

While hiring, you must be clear with JDs (job description) that it’s specific, cater to the exact segment of talent you are trying to hire and is professionally written. In addition, your company’s work culture must be well articulated to create a brand image.

Advertise what comforts you give to your workforce such as bonuses, travel incentives, family holiday leaves, paid leaves, etc.

Make sure you are attracting talent by being honest, straightforward and real in your job openings.

Communicate your company’s expectations clearly

While conducting interviews with your prospective employees, be very honest and straightforward regarding what you expect and what your requirements are. This does not mean holding a strict attitude during the interview.

A candidate expects the interviewer to introduce the company’s policies and work environment along with his/her skills assessment.

You should let them know how valuable their skill set is. Also, convey to them you like them to use those skills to achieve your organization’s goals as well for their professional and personal development.

If you want to assess the candidate’s personality and whether he/she is a fit person for your company, ask them to introduce themselves and put them at ease to talk honestly.

Many SMEs lack in providing feedback to candidates which is a major turn-off for today’s working professionals. Thus, make sure you give the necessary feedback after the interview.

Promote work-life balance and create a lively work culture

How SMEs attract and retain talent

SMEs have the advantage of being flexible with work and their operations. Professionals who tend to grind themselves by working beyond required hours do not remain productive for a longer period. Also, they sacrifice their social and personal life for work.

But the upcoming generation knows the importance of balancing work and personal life. Moreover, they do not want to work for a company that does not give them time to look after themselves. To overcome this, you can arrange a take-out weekend for your workforce. Through this, all employees can bond with each other and work together in harmony. Be noted that if you give over work to employees, it may benefit the company for a short duration but later they may leave your organization because of low or no balance between work time and personal time.

In addition to this, you can encourage your employees to think outside of the box and express their ideas without being hesitant. This approach gives the benefit of working effectively and efficiently. Through this approach, employees get to know that their opinions and ideas are counted and valued. Giving a sense of belonging, this attitude towards employees helps them stay loyal in any organization.

Appreciate your employees

Human beings tend to work more happily and productively when their efforts are appreciated. An SME has a great scope for appreciating the employees on a personal level because the manpower number is comparatively lesser. Thus, you must take this advantage of empowering and encouraging your workforce by showing them how well they are progressing in their career and how much close they are to promotion.

Do not leave a chance to praise your employees whenever they perform exceptionally to complete the given tasks. In addition, any employee who is lacking in his/her work should be given a constructive criticism in private. This helps them find out their mistakes and work more passionately towards perfection.

Introduce Internship programs

Big companies offer a variety of training and internship programs from time to time on their websites to attract young professionals. You can also introduce volunteering, apprenticeships, internships, and part-time job options for them to choose from.

For your existing employees, you can put a training or retraining program in place to give your staff chances to learn new skills. You can also introduce an in-house course exclusively for the organization’s employees to keep them motivated in working for you.

Additionally, a great way to keep your employees engaged with you is monthly internal training by senior staff and management personnel. This does not require a high budget like MNCs who hire consultants and industry experts from outside.

The Singapore government has launched funding programs such as the SkillsFuture program to help employees understand their best potential and tools to sharpen their skills.

Put an employee benefits scheme in place

A big number of worker injuries are reported every year at the workplace. The common ones are- poor workplace efficiency, overexertion and slips.

To protect your employees from such tragedies, you can introduce on-site physiotherapy services for them. This is a cost-effective technique to stop workplace injuries among the workforce. You do not need high investment in space and equipment to contract a physiotherapist on board. Some basic services can be performed using only a private room and a treatment bed.

With this, you can show your employees how valuable they are to you. Allowing them to get on-site physiotherapy gives them relief from the stress of applying for medical leaves or for scheduling their appointment with doctors during work hours.

Companies that can give medical benefits to employees have high staff retention rates and also experience lower incidents of injuries and absenteeism.

Invite freelancers to apply

How SMEs attract and retain talent

The millennials are going towards freelancing work culture because of the flexibility and newness. The gig economy is growing fast and SMEs can take benefit of it by inviting freelancers to apply. Freelancing not only helps in the prevention of overstaffing but also creates a pool to hire the appropriate candidates as and when required.

This is a cost-saving approach because you don’t have to release fixed salaries every month. You can pay and book expenses whenever you are in need of hiring a professional.

Companies who are engaged in seasonal business can get immense benefits from this approach because they can hire a professional when the demand for production increases in its season. And, when you have low or no demand in the market, you have no obligation to pay a fixed amount.

It has been seen that SMEs often take short-term loans to meet their current liabilities including payroll expenses. You can abstain from taking loans by hiring only when required.

Allot work and rotate according to employees’ skills

This is one of the biggest factors why an employee leaves an organization. Most SMEs struggle to retain staff because they do not allocate work which is under their skills. MNCs are the masters when it comes to allocating a variety of projects to a single person. Since they have a huge amount of work and projects going on at once, an employee working under them never gets bored and feels satisfied in doing different types of projects. As a result, he/she stays to learn and work in different areas of business for a longer period.

The similarly happens in rotation, if you rotate your employees in different business operations and departments, it creates engagement and more productivity among them.

Big companies can retain and attract talent because they offer multiple opportunities to learn. Being an SME, you should also adopt the same practice of allocating suitable work and rotating employees within the organization.

The Takeaway

The employees in any company are its asset and hence need continuous nurturing and opportunities to showcase their capabilities. If you don’t let your employees realize their best and true potential, your company will not be able to sustain itself in the long run. Where there is a high staff attrition ratio, people tend to trust that company less as compared to a company that has low staff attrition and high retention.

The HR department of small and medium enterprises can apply these tips and tricks in their policy as a whole. In times of layoffs by big organizations, SMEs have a good opportunity to attract talent and retain them using these proven techniques.

As an SME, if you have business expansion and require more workforce in operations, you may require working capital to keep going. You may consider taking a temporary bridging loan facilitated by the Singapore government to have a positive cash flow during this time. This loan can help you pay the recruitment costs and salary expenses before the new employees are at their full productivity.

New staff on average takes between 1 to 4 months in adopting the company’s culture and workflow. During this period, you can focus on attaining more clarity on HR policies and make decisions accordingly.

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