SMEs have an edge over bigger businesses because of their flexibility and ability to pivot quickly. However, attracting talented employees and actually getting them to stay is a serious struggle for most SMEs.
It is almost impossible for SMEs to compete for talent with brand name large corporate MNCs that offer attractive perks and a nice brand name on the employee's CV.
For any business to grow and scale, it has to be able to attract and retain the best talent available. Also, millennials will make up the largest segment in the labor market. SMEs have to understand the aspirations and career expectations of millennials which could differ vastly from the generation before them.
Implementing remote work policies
Covid-19 has made remote work a necessity. Working from home is the new normal when half the world's population are undergoing some form of lock down. SMEs whom have not embraced or experimented with remote working practices before must adapt and implement the necessary infrastructure for staff to pivot to remote working.
BCP (business contingency plans) are usually not top of mind concern for most small businesses as they are busy putting our daily operational fires. However, this pandemic has forced all companies, big or small, to have BCPs in place and remote working policies for the sake or business survival. Technology today has lowered the cost of entry for remote work and small business are spoil for choice to implement tools for remote working workflow and processes within their organisation.
Promoting the corporate brand
Small businesses should also be concerned with cultivating their corporate brand. When recruiting staff, you should highlight your industry nature clearly and what the company's brand stands for.
It is important to convey our unique selling points as employer of choice to prospective hires. The job descriptions must be clear, specific, professionally written and aimed at that particular audience we are trying to attract.
Your company culture also needs to be enunciated. Many SMEs make the mistake of thinking that the only things necessary for a hiring ad are the job description, and this is wrong.
If you have perks such as family days, travel incentives etc, do advertise that. Make your company attractive to prospective staff, while still keeping it real, honest, and straightforward.
Be upfront about expectations
During interviews, be very candid with prospective employees on your requirements and expectations. This doesn’t mean adopting a stern demeanor when interviewing. Rather, let them know that you value their skill set and would like them to use those skills in specific ways, for their personal development as well contributing to the success of the organization.
Asking interviewees about themselves is a great way to put them at ease, and give you the opportunity to assess them on a more personal level and measure for culture fit.
Insist on balanced work life
Workaholics tend to tire easily, have reduced productivity, and little to no social life. This is not good for business. The major edge SMEs have over bigger companies is our flexibility. Do not over-work employees, before tired employees become former employees.
Encourage them to take time to look after themselves. In the work place, organize take-out Fridays where everyone gets takeout and have lunch bonding with each other.
You should empower your staff be creative and innovative, encouraging them to think our of the box, looking for more effective ways of operating the business. This will let them know that their opinions count, and will go a long way towards retaining staff. Empowered employees with a sense of agency are productive employees.
Show employees appreciation
Encouraging good work by showing them their career progression paths, and how much closer they are to a promotion, is a great way to show your staff that you appreciate them.
Praise them whenever they do a splendid job on a certain task and give constructive criticism when they have done something wrong, and this should be done in private.
Apprenticeships, volunteering, internships, and part-time jobs are a great way to provide value to people by training them, and at the same time giving us a wider pool of skilled labor to choose from.
Look into training and retraining among existing employees. In-house refresher courses are the best way to motivate employees. You do not need a big budget like MNCs do to hire external training vendors and consultants. In fact, senior staff or management personnel could take turns conducting monthly internal training to drill all employees on new updates and refresh existing processes.
Tap onto government funding such as SkillsFuture grants to develop your employees to their full potential and sharpen skill set.
Freelancers and the gig economy
As millennials starts getting comfortable with the emergence of freelancing and the gig economy, SMEs can stand to benefit. Hiring freelancers can help prevent overstaffing, while still maintaining a pool of resources for you to hire from when you need it.
There is also decreased fixed salary expenses for the business because you only have to hire freelancers when you have specific ad-hoc jobs for them or to meet seasonal demand peaks.
When business is slow, you can decide not to hire to minimize slack. Instead of having to source for short term SME loan in Singapore to sustain your payroll overheads during slow periods, you can keep your manpower lean.
These methods can be successfully applied to a SME’s overall HR policy and enable you to attract talented employees and retain them as well.
In uncertain times, many companies could be reorganizing their operations and freezing headcount. During such times, it is a good opportunity for SMEs to access talent or experienced industry professionals that are usually out of reach.
If you have expansion plans and require more headcount, working capital could be a concern. There is a 1 to 4 month ramp up period before new staff are assimilated to company’s workflow and culture. Positive ROI on your recruitment drive could only be realized few months to a year down the road as the company begin executing expansion plans.
To deal with this, a short term temporary bridging loan could be undertaken to help with cash flow. This fund can be deployed towards recruitment costs and payroll expenses before new hires are at full productivity.
You can compare all business loans in Singapore within our site with our free loan assessment tool. With more clarity on loan options available, you can then make informed decisions on the recruitment and HR strategy you can undertake going forward.