As an employer, it’s inevitable that you might often find yourself wondering whether you risk losing a member of staff to a larger, wealthier, trendier or more conveniently located competitor.
But is such paranoia simply looking at that fear the wrong way around?
Instead of wondering whether you might lose employees – usually just when you’ve invested your time and trust in getting them well trained and equipped for your sector – should you instead be questioning ‘Why would anyone want to work for you and your business?’
Perhaps one of the most important things to remember if you own and run an SME, is that, believe it or not, you’ve got an awful lot which makes you attractive – even if you can’t always pay the higher salaries, and if you lack the globally recognised brand name above the door.
There’s an array of evidence which suggest that many people love to work for SMEs and will actively seek these out when they begin the trawl for career opportunities.
Indeed, often an SME is seen as exactly the kind of environment where you’ll find the opportunity to progress further, to have your opinions heard with greater attention, to be so much more than a mere ‘number’ on the staff tally, and to enjoy a broader array of work activity.
Time and again, we see employers tying themselves up in knots, worrying about retention of valued staff, and fearing that they might not be able to match a salary proposed by an alternative company, but trust us – the reason people stay and succeed within your business is much more varied…and with plenty of scope for you to become the employer of choice.
YOU HELP THEM LEARN AND DEVELOP
Time spent on creating in-house training, or a commitment to allowing staff to attend learning opportunities or to network for the purpose of knowledge-share, is invaluable.
SMEs have the flexibility to create their own training and to do so in a way which is ‘tailored’ and answers the needs of your own staff.
YOU PROVIDE AMPLE CHANCES FOR PROMOTION AND PROGRESSION
Although there’s always an argument that a larger scale company has many layers, and therefore many new roles and levels of salary and responsibility to reach, it can be argued that an SME has even more of an effective model for spotting and enabling progression and promotion opportunity.
The SME environment allows for an individual’s unique qualities and expertise to be recognised more swiftly, and for an agile business to create opportunities for that person to continue to grow and excel.
YOU SEE THEM AS AN INDIVIDUAL
While there may be a number of perks to being in a ‘bigger business’, most of us want to be valued for who we are, what we bring, and to have our voice and perspective heard. Many who opt to work for an SME do so because they say they get to play an integral part in a team and to generate influence and impact.
YOU PROVIDE THEM WITH AGILITY OF WORKING PRACTICES
SMEs are often very good at embracing flexible working behaviours, and enabling their staff to operate from locations and at a time which meets their needs as well as the business’ needs.
Building this into your internal culture buys a lot of loyalty and gratitude from employees because they feel understood, and able to maintain a work-life balance.
YOU HAVE VALUES AND CAUSES AND EVIDENCE THAT IN WHAT YOU DO
A business which has strong values or supports particular causes is likely to be very attractive to employees.
SMEs often sit in the heart of a community and can therefore be very proactive in shaping what those causal activities and initiatives might be, taking into account the thoughts and feelings of staff.
Adopting something like Employer Supported Volunteering (ESV) takes this a stage further and helps your staff to spend time with causes or charities they care for, during time in which they are ‘employed’ by you.
YOU CARE FOR THEIR HEALTH AND WELLBEING
We hear so much more open conversation about health and wellbeing in the workplace these days, and any business which reflects a genuine desire to help staff in this area, will be more widely favoured.
SMEs have the ability to work with their staff to come up with appropriate policies, to implement practices which support the mental health of colleagues, or to introduce initiatives which ensure wellbeing is a central focus in the daily working structure.
YOU MAKE THEM FEEL SECURE AND APPRECIATED
It used to be the case that people felt a huge and long-established business was more ‘secure’ for an employee.
That’s certainly not the case today. In fact, some employees will say they feel more secure in an SME structure, as a result of having closer understanding of how the organisation works and on what the current commercial activity is.
It’s worth saying that it’s your job to ensure staff feel both secure and appreciated, and that this will help your retention rate significantly. Communication and gratitude go a long way.
YOU BUILD A COMMUNITY
Yes, big companies talk about having a culture of community and of collective friendship, but you can be sure that’s more easily built – and maintained – in an SME.
As an employer of an SME, you can shape the way in which your staff get to feel part of one another’s lives, how supported they feel, and how considered they are in times of strain.
You can build a ‘one for all’ ethos which resonates throughout all you do, and you can embed it through your HR practices in such a way that your staff truly feel that their working world provides them with a sense of ‘family’ and togetherness, in the pursuit of commercial success.
While these are just a few aspects to consider when it comes to ensuring ‘attractiveness’ to your future and existing staff, we at MAD HR certainly think these are the important ones.
By taking time to carefully shape your HR strategy and consider each of these elements, we feel sure you’ll swiftly gain reassurance that your business is of the kind that will continue to be attractive as a long-term place to work.
If you’d like our help in building these elements into your strategy for the year ahead, please contact us.