Small Business Saturday Blog

Hiring tips for start-ups

Wednesday, March 01 at 15:24HR

A new business is nothing without a talented and skilled workforce that can shape its culture, achieve its short-term goals and build a foundation for future growth. Hiring the right candidates is a top priority for start-ups, but many struggle to source the right employees for respective roles as they lack experience and are constrained by budgetary requirements and other demands.

Data shows that 10 per cent of new hires do not work out. While large organisations can usually absorb the blow, micro and small businesses are often left reeling as just a single employee can represent a large percentage of the workforce. A strong hiring strategy will mitigate some of the risks associated with new hires and help you to bring in the talent you need to make your start-up a success.

Be proactive

Starting from scratch for each new hire can really limit your ability to source suitable candidates quickly, so be on the lookout all year, even when you don’t have any open spots. According to Bas Kohnke, the co-founder of performance software enterprise Impraise, creating and saving a watch list for talent and keeping in touch with potential candidates can pay dividends. He adds: “Send them an email, invite them to a party. Just keep them in the loop.”

Talent management 

Hiring managers can now use platforms to streamline the applicant tracking and hiring process. Cloud software can be used to aggregate, update and maintain information about candidates and facilitate simple and intuitive communications with the candidate pool. Leveraging the wealth of new technology that is available in the digital age can really level the playing field for start-ups as they can access tools that were previously only available to the largest corporations. Bringing in a CRM Recruitment specialist to oversee this area of hiring is recommended.

Optimise the process 

A Leadership IQ study found that a flawed interview procedure can have a detrimental impact on candidate selection, so it is important to optimise this so you can process prospective new hires efficiently. You could start with a survey and an automated email response to filter candidates, and then use video interviews as a second stage. While technical competence is important, try to ask questions that help determine a candidate’s drive, ambition, temperament, motivation, emotional intelligence and coachability, as these factors are often overlooked.

Diversity and problem solvers 

Hiring people who are experts in specific areas of business and complement other employees is the best way to build a start-up team. AOL co-founder Steve Case believes that new enterprises must “strike the right balance between having a team of people who work well together and having distinct and diverse perspectives.” You might also want to favour problem solvers during the formative stages of business as you will most likely need employees who can overcome adversity and get things done quickly.

The importance of building a strategy that will enable you to hire employees who are technically capable and an ideal fit for your company and culture cannot be overstated. Taking the time to define what you need and implementing a robust procedure can go a long way toward helping you source the right candidates at the right time.

Recruiting for your small business

Wednesday, May 18 at 12:18HR | Recruitment | Top Tips

In this day and age of evolving technology, it’s understandable that many small business owners may feel overwhelmed when they need to hire someone. There’s hundreds, maybe thousands of websites all seemingly offering a similar solution. Whether you’re a small deli looking for a barista to make a marvellous macchiato, or a growing marketing agency delving into digital, understanding how job seekers behave is the first step to success.

Tip 1 - Put yourself in the jobseekers shoes (and put your job ad in their sightline)
Whether it’s browsing shop windows or searching online, job seekers with different skills behave differently when they look for a job. Take a step back, think about where the person you want to hire would go to search for a job, and make sure your jobs are seen there.  

Tip 2 - The growth of “specialist search engines” 
Take a look at this graph below using Google data. You can see in red how searches for Cheap Flights has declined over time. More people now search for specialist travel search engines such as “Kayak", than search for “Cheap Flights” on Google.
Searches for cheap flights  Searches for Kayak

This trend is also happening in the search for jobs. People are now using specialist search engines for jobs, like Adzuna, to begin their search. Ensuring your jobs are on the most relevant platforms to job seekers is the best way to make sure your vacancies reach the right job seekers.

Tip 3 - Advertise for Free! 
The first advertising you should do for any job should be free. Whether it’s sticking an ad in the window or posting the job on your website, always look to free sources first. You can even advertise your job on sites like Adzuna for free.  There’s no commitment, no contract and no credit cards needed, just a great job description and a website or email address to receive your applications.

Tip 4 - Job search is everywhere - be there. 
The constant evolution of the internet and ability to take sophisticated technology on the move has changed the way people search for jobs. Job seekers no longer need to spend hours visiting recruitment agencies, or trawling through newspaper ads, they can search at any time, virtually anywhere, through their smartphone or tablet. Ensuring your jobs are visible on mobile is critical, especially when trying to find people who aren’t currently “desk based” workers.

Adzuna is a search engine for job ads used by over 9 million visitors per month that aims to list every job, everywhere. We search thousands of websites so our users don't have to, bringing together millions of ads in one place. By providing smarter search options and powerful data about the job market, we give jobseekers the information they need to take control of their careers.  

Click here to request your free job advertising account.

Adzuna’s mission is to be the best place to start looking for a job.  We love using the awesome power of technology to help match people to better, more fulfilling jobs and keep Britain working.

How to write the perfect job advert

Thursday, March 10 at 10:23How To | HR | Recruitment

This week, we hear from Small Business Saturday champion Parker Sourcing about how to write a brilliant job description for your small business vacancy

Every company wants to land the best workers to help drive their business forward, which is why creating an efficient and extremely attractive job advert is very important.  On too many occasions, businesses fail to articulate the ethos of the company and specific responsibilities of the post, meaning many potential and talented candidates slip through their hands.

To lure in the most creative, innovative and cutting-edge individuals, your job advertisement must be packed with reasons for candidates to contact you. But saying that, you probably won’t want Scooby Doo and the gang showing up for an interview and wasting valuable time either, so it’s all about striking the right balance to attract the people you want to hire.
For example, you’re looking for someone to come in and head up your marketing team. You want them to take the bull by the horns from day one and create some great, catchy and viral advertising campaigns to really drive your business forward. However, you’re also a very flexible and team-orientated company who loves to get staff helping out across multiple departments. Would you really want to employ a marketing guru who had a less-than-positive attitude towards customer services?

It’s essential that you make your job requirements clear to the reader in order to attract the right people for the job and to whittle out anyone who probably won’t fit the bill. If you’re on the lookout for a technically savvy developer for your I.T department, who can also provide the rest of the company with computer training, then you’ll need that person to be a confident communicator and not just a heads-down coding wizard.

Is your company a fun, challenging or rewarding place to work? Let people know about it upfront, so they can picture themselves in the role. Be positive about the culture of the organization to have people really wanting to work for you. Put yourselves in their situation; they’re looking for a place where they can connect with the people around them; an environment they can look forward to working in every day when they wake up in the morning. Capture the personality of your company, and you’re well on your way to attracting the right candidates for your post.

It’s not always easy to remember what information to include in when you post a job online, so to make sure you have everything covered, work your way through this list before you click ‘submit’:
1. Have you included a clear job title for the position?
2. Have you supplied a definite list of educational requirements and experience required to take on the job?
3. Have you outlined a salary range for the position?
4. Have you included the amount of working hours required per week?
5. Have you listed a transparent set of duties that
 the role involves?






For more hiring advice, read Lee Parker's previous blog post: Why Job Descriptions Matter

Successful HR for Small Businesses

Tuesday, April 14 at 11:12HR

Approaching human resources correctly is essential for all successful businesses. While larger companies are able to employ a whole HR department to handle company policies, employee data and hiring, small businesses face more challenges in this area. For small businesses to ensure that their HR is done successfully, they need to consider their needs and put strategies in place to meet them.

In-House HR

New and small businesses often find that an in-house HR professional is not necessary for their company. However, businesses should not ignore HR priorities. In this instance, many small businesses who have less than 50 or so employees allocate HR tasks among other members of the team. For example, an admin worker may be involved in the hiring process and another worker may be responsible for managing staff holidays. Some small businesses may opt for one-off consultations with HR professionals, especially regarding legal policies, to ensure that they are on track.

HR Software

As a small business grows, managing all of the day-to-day HR tasks between other team members can become a challenge. In this instance, HR software can lighten the load. HR software for monitoring absences from work, planning staff leave, recording salary history, keeping health and safety records, as well as providing online training where needed, can easily reduce the time spent on these tasks. For businesses who employ remote workers, there are HR software options for time tracking, task management, online calls, meetings, invoicing and so on.

Outsourcing HR

Another option for growing businesses to consider is outsourcing their HR tasks. Outsourcing can give businesses access to skills and knowledge that they might not otherwise have and allow managers to focus on their core business. For businesses who do not require an in-house HR professional but are finding that allocating tasks to other team members is negatively affecting productivity, outsourcing can still keep costs low while ensuring all the necessary HR work is taken care of. There are a variety of HR responsibilities which can be outsourced, the most common of which are legal services, payroll, recruitment and pensions.


Author Bio: Stuart Hearn has 20 years experience in the HR sector. He co-founded plusHR, a leading UK HR consultancy, and previously worked as International HR Director for Sony Music Publishing. Stuart is currently CEO of OneTouchTeam, an online staff leave planner and HR system for small businesses. 

Choosing Health and Safety Consultants

Friday, March 13 at 09:23HR

Unless you have the resources, experience and knowledge to focus on all aspects of workplace health and safety on your own, then eliciting help from expert consultants is likely to be extremely important. For most smaller companies, the cost of training individuals up to take on the mantle of health and safety officer, or the financial implications associated with hiring a specific member of staff simply to carry out such tasks, is likely to seem excessive and in turn most will find that paying for consultancy whenever processes need refining is the most sensible approach.

There will be many different companies offering consultancy services for those needing a more focused insight into health and safety and choosing the right company could make a huge difference to both your overheads and how effectively you can mitigate dangers within your premises. So how should you go about making such a choice?

What they should offer

The best consultants won’t suggest that they can manage all of your risks for you. Instead, the management of risks will have to come from your own staff (unless of course you decide to hire in a full time health and safety officer). Instead, consultancy firms will help you to identify the risks present in your workplace and offer you help and advice on how to deal with such hazards. In some cases, this may mean removing the risk altogether whilst in others this may just mean highlighting dangers and ensuring employees are equipped to deal with them.

The right firm should help you implement processes to manage the risks within your workplace, making certain that you are fully aware of the best procedures for your own business to help your staff remain as protected as possible from all potential health and safety issues.

It is also important that the services you receive are bespoke for your own needs. The company you choose should work with you to highlight risks based on your own unique workplace and your own unique procedures rather than offering a generic package that pays no attention to the way in which you work. In other words, health and safety assessments are not a processes that will be the same for every business and instead each specific company will need very specific consultancy.

Do your research

As well as checking to see what a consultant offers, make sure that you check their track record. Not only should they be reputable and have consistently good feedback from previous customers, but they should also have a vast experience of offering their services to businesses in your industry. They may be cheap and trustworthy but if they have never set foot in a warehouse, they might still not be right for you if that is exactly where you need to mitigate risk.

Choose a name that is synonymous with quality, such as Phoenix Health and Safety rather than a company that is only appealing due to its low prices. After all, the cost of getting things wrong will be far higher in the long run.

Before you make a final decision, talk with the company themselves. Not only should they be knowledgeable, flexible and accommodating, but the consultants should also be people you can feel comfortable talking to. If you cannot feel at ease when they are around, you may find that you do not get the best results or that you feel awkward asking for important points to be clarified.

Author bio: Andrew Freeman, on behalf of Phoenix HSC, is a blogger specialising in the fields of business and employment. He writes regularly about risk management in the workplace.

Getting All Employees Interested In Team Building

Tuesday, February 17 at 13:37HR

Getting the whole team on board with a new initiative at work can be a mixed adventure… some will be up for it and enthusiastic to get started, others will be cautious and want more information, whilst a tiny few would rather stick to the usual routine and maintain their comfort zone.

The trouble is, this mixed response is likely to be what you face if you’ve got the task of getting your team involved in a team-building activity… and is possibly the whole reason why team-building is on the agenda in the first place! So how can you garner enthusiasm for participating in team activities from your most reluctant team players? It’s an important question that we at Team Tactics address in the following ways:

Anticipate the “do we have to?” element

As an opportunity to do fun and exciting things with your colleagues, team building activities can be fun for everyone, but presenting such activities as mandatory smacks of a “done to”, rather than “done with” management agenda. Savvy managers will understand this and pre-empt such problems by:

Inviting suggestions as to what type of team activities individuals prefer.
Identifying who are the most hard-to-reach members of the team and making an effort to find out what makes them tick (not so that you can pander to their preferences at the cost of those of other team members, but to enable you to make sure all personalities are taken into consideration).
Exchanging a “same-old” working day for the activities rather than expecting your team to give up their own time to participate. Being on-the clock for an activity which is slightly more fun than the day job is a good way of getting everyone on board and, in terms of team morale and productivity, can be more cost-effective than a normal workday.

Address the “what’s the point?” question

A team always has a resident cynic and anticipating the “what’s the point?” question when announcing a team event can be the quickest way to shut down negative vibes which could undermine the whole event. Be careful to:

Communicate the value of the event, being careful not only to highlight how it might help the company as a whole (improved communication, productivity etc) but also support individuals both professionally and personally.
Asking yourself the “what’s in it for me?” question from the viewpoint of members of your team – and presenting this to them before they even get to ask the question demonstrates that their needs, as well as the company’s, are being considered.

Anticipate alternatives

If your usual work methods require your team to work in a certain way, consider team activities which allow individuals to explore and develop other skills, as a way to get everyone doing something a little different:

If your team usually has to be highly analytical, try team building activities which require them to think and work creatively for a change. This will add to the depth of their thinking later on and increase the chances of some creative thinking once normal work resumes.
If promotion opportunities are coming up, run an activity day which allows team members to develop and demonstrate their leadership skills in an informal way.

Make it about others

Although ultimately your company will benefit from running employee and team activities through increased morale, productivity and even reducing absenteeism, you could also make sure the day is recognised as being for someone else’s benefit.

Finally, don’t forget to record the event with photographs and video and gain feedback from your team and any other participants as soon as possible afterwards, to help stimulate those “next time…” rather than “never again…” reflections on team building activities!

By Alex Murray, Community Coordinator for Team Tactics

Having the right HR system is crucial for your business

Monday, January 12 at 10:16HR

Whether you employ 1 employee or 1000, having the right system in place is vital for you to get the best out of your employees, and for your employees to get the best out of their employment.

Where should you start?
The starting point is very simple – make sure you have all the correct documents and systems in place to comply with employment law. Employers usually find it much easier to get the documents drawn up for them as this saves a lot of time, hassle and cost. As long as the correct procedures are followed, you will protect the business.

What HR documents should you give to employees? 
We would always recommend issuing the following documents as a minimum for your HR system:

Contract of Employment
Company Handbook
Health & Safety Manual
Confidentiality Agreement
Holiday Policy
Email and Internet Use Policy
Social Networking Policy
Equality and Diversity Policy
Training Policy
Sickness Absence Policy
Bradford Factor Procedure
Company Vehicle Policy

There are many more HR documents, but these would usually be used as and when required (e.g. maternity documents, disciplinary documents etc.).

However, HR is not all about formal documents and policies. The difference between a great HR system and an adequate HR system is how you treat your employees over and above the legal requirements. Remember, we’re all human and everyone likes to be treated fairly and respectfully.

How can employers build a great relationship with employees? 
The key to a great relationship between an employer and employee is communication. Most problems within businesses occur because of poor communication. Strong communication should be built on all layers of the business, from general staff through to the Managing Director.

The best companies have open communication policies where staff and management share ideas, problems and solutions. This kind of company culture leads to happy employees, happy employers, happy customers, happy suppliers… you get the idea!

What’s the best way to handle HR in a small business? 
Once a business has handled the compliancy side of HR (by having correct documents and procedures in place), it should look at how it wants to interact with employees. In a small business, it’s vital that every employee is efficient, productive and capable.

All employees should buy-in to the company culture so everyone is working to the same end goal. Having a strong team is crucial to the success of the business – any disharmony will be felt to a much greater degree in a small business than it would in a larger business.

Management should set the right procedures from day one, with all employees being treated equally and with respect. HR is the same as any other function in a business – you get out what you put in! If you put in no effort, that’s what your employees will put out.

A good HR system should add profit to the bottom line - if it doesn’t then you’re not doing it right!

By Liz Strama of HR Protected - www.hrprotected.co.uk

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