The decision by any small-to-medium enterprise (SME) to go for growth is a bold step. In times of growth one obvious focus should fall on the greatest asset of any small business – it’s employees. Two of the most common ways of achieving SME growth are by recruitment of additional talented staff or by upskilling existing employees.
There were over 5.5 million SMEs operating in the UK at the beginning of 2016. They employed 15.7% workers between them and accounted for 47% of all private sector turnover in the UK (BIS, 2016). Clearly SMEs are an important part of the UK economy. They have had a crucial role in the post-2008 crash recovery and will do so now pre- and post-Brexit. That’s why any hopes for improving the lagging UK economy must include an upturn in the development and profitability of our vital SMEs.
Businesses looking to expand need to pay attention to recruiting talent and upskilling their existing workforce.
Recruitment of new staff
More than any other step, recruiting the right people can be the key to a thriving business.
- Hire the right people – one in four firms have pointed to problems hiring talented staff as a barrier to growth (FSB, 2014). At a time of rapid growth don’t rush to take on people quickly – take the time to ensure they fit the culture and needs of your organisation, as well as offering the right technical skills – it will cost you time and money if they leave early or if you are burdened with the wrong staff who are not right for the job.
- Seek out creative approaches – it can be difficult for SMEs to compete with big firms for the best talent. Try to be creative to make the best of your resources e.g. boost your social media presence and engagement; update your website about what your organisation has to offer; include videos from existing employees; take advantage of your presence in the local community and make links with local colleges and universities.
- Adopt the best recruitment process – it’s important to find the right way to recruit employees, one which works best for your business. When hiring decisions may be made by different people across the business, it’s useful to have a consistent approach and ensure that all line managers are aware of your firm’s best practice. It’s also more efficient to have common streamlined processes across the business.
Upskilling existing employees
Call it training, development or upskilling, it’s vital if you are to achieve your business’s growth goals.
- Identify training needs – take time to identify where skills may need updating – it may be due to growth, adoption of new technology, a change in business direction or a combination of these factors. Be sure to look across the firm to include different types of roles. A TUC poll of more than 3,000 adults has found that only a third of workers are offered regular training opportunities, with white-collar workers twice as likely to receive training than those in blue collar roles (40% versus 21%).
- Invest in training – once the need for upskilling has been identified, commit to investing in training staff whether in-house or through external learning. The TUC poll found that employers in other EU countries spend double the amount UK employers do on improving workplace skills. Build training expenditure into the annual budget. Seek out any training funds on offer, for example from local councils, business organisations and educational outlets.
- Be creative in deploying upskilled staff – many SMEs can’t always offer promotional opportunities to upskilled staff. When this happens, consider other opportunities you can offer good staff to keep them engaged e.g. increasing their autonomy within their role; enlisting their help with training; arranging secondments or job-swaps within the business to increase experience and transfer good practice.
Chronologic’s Workforce Management System meets the need of businesses to organise their employees with efficiency, speed and accuracy. The HR Module enables you to keep training and other records quickly to-hand and set reminders for staff requiring ongoing training.