How to hire the right staff


A 2014 market survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development indicated that small businesses are five times more likely than larger businesses to employ more staff. This fact is true now as it was three years ago. However, while larger organisations can commit more resources to the recruitment of new staffers, small businesses are encumbered by many constraints.

No doubt, employing the right people into your workforce is one of the most essential steps to building a successful business. On the other hand, employing the wrong people could come with some dire repercussions, including loss of money, time and staff motivation. According to another study, it could cost 20% of an annual salary to replace a mid-level employee and more than 200% to replace a senior executive. In some cases, a “mistake” hiring eventually climaxed in the demise of the business.
Therefore, if hiring a single person into your organisation can come with such implications, it is important to pay close attention to the process that brings on board new employees.

The following steps can serve as a guide.

Define your vision
Everything will be determined by your vision – the direction and achievements you aspire for your business. You should also consider your culture – what it is now and what you would like it to be. This should be crystallised in the policies that guide how you recruit individuals that join your team – the kind of employees you require, where they are and how you can get them. Make budgetary preparations to attract quality staff at every level of competence.

Keep the future in sight
As attributed to Heraclitus, the Greek Philosopher, “The only thing that is constant is change”. Because the world is fast evolving, you should employ based on how they can advance your business in line with current realities. However, you should also look out for skilled people that can help you remain relevant in the future. This will largely influence the goals you have envisioned for the business. Would he/she fit into the big picture? Will he/she help accelerate your goals? Does this person have the potential to contribute and grow with your company and develop their career with you? These are the questions you should reflect on.

Be clear about job descriptions
The last impression you want your potential employee to have of your organisation is that you are not clear on the exact responsibilities and duties expected of the vacant role. So, before you put out the announcement, you must define exactly what you want and need the role to accomplish, the team the role will interact with on the job, to whom would the person report, the required skills, experience and educational background, and the form of employment – full-time or a part-time role.

Get hands-on
It is one thing for candidates’ competencies to read and look well on paper, it is yet another for the possessors of these competences to be able to perform at par with what they have expressed in their CVs. There is no rule against giving the candidate an on-the-job assessment – a chance to confirm their professionalism and capability. When recruiting, consider simulating real life situations and access candidates based on how they manage them. For instance, you are looking to fill a role that requires quick thinking on one’s feet and smart networking skills. You should ask questions such as, “what would the person do if he/she walked into an event where he/she had no contacts, but the room is crawling with decision makers the company could sell its latest products to?”

Focus on soft skills
Possessing the skills you require is important, but you must look into what should be a higher requirement – soft skills such as the quality of the candidate’s problem-solving skills, verbal and written communications, social etiquette, time management, a positive attitude, amongst others. Soft skills demonstrate high emotional intelligence, which is important as a small business, because a lot depends on the relationships you cultivate. Hence, hiring staff that are technically savvy, but emotionally immature could ruin your hard-earned relationships and business culture.

Be clear on remuneration and benefits
Be clear about the company’s offerings and benefits. Let candidates know your company’s position and policies on important issues such as maternity leave, insurance etc. Your clarity will help curb high turnovers. Employees appreciate a leader who calls a spade, a spade. For instance, a candidate accepted an offer for a business analyst role in a small business, and the company offered the statutory perks: salary, pension and health insurance. After being hired, and on receiving his first pay check, he noticed a huge deduction in his pay check as the company did not contribute towards pension, but deducted the entire 18% from the employee’s remuneration rather than 10% by company and 8% by employee based on the country’s pension laws. The employee was devastated and left after a few months.

In summary, building a competent team that performs takes continuous effort. Many employees do not come ready made, so businesses have to put in the work to shape them. A competent team can be a rewarding one. Small businesses may not be able to match the perks offered by big companies, but they can offer quick learning and personal development experiences.



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