Recruitment wars: How small businesses can outshine corporates

How can SMEs hire exceptional talent in a fiercely competitive market?

Recruitment wars: How small businesses can outshine corporates

Sunday October 29, 2023,

6 min Read

Establishing a foothold amidst the big business can be a formidable objective for small businesses. One potential catalyst for this is the strategic recruitment of the best talent.

According to a survey conducted by the NFIB Research Foundation, 44% of small business owners reported a shortage of qualified applicants for their job openings. However, attracting top talent can often be an uphill battle for small businesses as they are pitted against larger corporations with deeper financial resources and greater perks.

Nonetheless, enticing star employees from bigger corporations is possible. Smaller enterprises often possess unique advantages that larger counterparts cannot replicate. So, how can they hire exceptional talent in a fiercely competitive market? Here's a comprehensive roadmap for small business recruitment to both attract new hires and retain their existing workforce.

Improve Coordination in a Business Organization

Emphasise career growth opportunities

Every candidate seeks a job that fosters their professional development, and showcasing how your company can facilitate this growth is the key to making your organisation more appealing to prospective hires.

In larger corporations, an individual's promotion often hinges on someone else vacating their position. This can be frustrating for ambitious employees who find themselves waiting for their turn. However, this is not the case in smaller companies.

While smaller firms may lack the prominent branding of larger counterparts, they provide unparalleled opportunities for hands-on learning and empower employees to innovate independently, bypassing the intricacies of internal corporate politics. As the organisation evolves, new responsibilities naturally arise, enabling diligent employees to swiftly expand their roles and lead teams, climbing the ladder of leadership and management.

According to Chron, the implementation of professional development programs is known to attract highly talented employees. Furthermore, offering career training and development initiatives can retain as many as 86% of Millennials in their current roles. Be sure to communicate this advantage to potential candidates, particularly those self-driven individuals who aim to steer their career trajectories.

Strive to achieve a work-life balance

As an employer, it’s your duty to equip your employees with the power to enhance their overall job satisfaction. The concept of work-life balance can prove to be constantly evolving.

Educate your team on work-life balance

Consider educating your team about the true meaning of work-life balance. There are numerous organisations and coaches offering online courses, as well as webinars and lectures at business centres.

You can even take on the role of an instructor yourself by acquiring knowledge from the internet or attending a class, and then organising informative sessions for your employees. Before commencing these sessions, distribute a questionnaire to learn about your employees' expectations and requirements regarding work-life balance.

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Promote efficiency over overwork

While extra shifts and extended work hours may yield short-term results, they often come at the expense of work quality, employee health, and overall job satisfaction. Encourage your workforce to focus on maximum productivity during their proposed work hours and leave the office on time.

To enhance efficiency, foster effective communication among team members, arrange office resources for optimal accessibility, develop well-structured schedules, and break down projects into manageable steps, thereby preparing in advance to minimise the need for mid-course adjustments.

Offer greater flexibility

The ADP Research Institute conducted a survey revealing that 67% of employees feel more empowered to work in flexible arrangements. Successful companies, such as American Express, have embraced this trend by providing flexible hours and contract options.

While compensation is undeniably important, flexibility is sought the most by job seekers. The primary objective is to complete tasks effectively while remaining responsive to customer needs.

As employers of small businesses, consider adopting a greater flexible stance towards policies and practices that impact work-life balance. This approach underscores your commitment to the overall well-being of your employees and attracts talent who may require non-traditional schedules or work arrangements.

Provide tangible benefits

According to a survey by Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM), nearly half of employees cited health insurance as a pivotal factor in their job decisions, with 29% emphasising an attractive benefits package. 

While the law doesn't mandate health insurance or paid leave for small businesses (those with 50 or fewer employees), crafting a comprehensive benefits package remains a critical element of an effective recruitment strategy. Remember, employee benefits matter to your workforce, so they should matter to you too.

To enhance your benefits package's appeal, consider looking beyond health plans. If your organisation primarily targets freshers, who often remain on their parent's health plans, you'll need to offer something extra to entice them. 

Even for candidates beyond this demographic, a standard health plan may not suffice as a unique selling point.

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You can also be creative with perks

Gene Caballero, owner of GreenPal, a Nashville-based company known as the 'Uber for lawn mowing,' provides his employees with a music room. Caballero points out that many of his employees are musicians or music enthusiasts, and this creative perk adds a unique touch to their work experience.

Make your employees feel heard

With recruitment focussing on hiring freshers, the expectations too have changed immensely. 

Younger employees seek active participation in decision-making processes, a voice in shaping their roles, and opportunities to innovate. As an employer, you should definitely consider encouraging their involvement in key aspects of the organisation:

1. Hiring Process: Involve them in the hiring process, allowing them to collaborate with potential team members. This not only fosters their mutual relationships but also invests them in the success of new hires.

2. Product and Service Development: Engage employees in decisions about equipment purchases and the development of new products and services. Their insights can lead to innovative solutions and a sense of ownership.

Emphasise job stability

Contrary to popular belief, job security isn't guaranteed by a company's size. 

While some may perceive larger corporations as more secure, emphasise the stability your small business offers. Share that layoffs are infrequent or non-existent in your organisation, citing examples of your company's long-standing stability. 

This can debunk misconceptions and highlight the security your small business can provide, even in comparison to larger, seemingly more stable corporations.