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Cast your mind back a couple of decades when searching for the next top talent to join the company meant small business owners had to sift through piles of CVs and narrow down candidates via face-to-face interviews. Local paper advertising was another go-to technique many used to successfully land new candidates.

It may sound old and dated to some, but this was the standard hiring process not long ago and many small businesses still adhere to this set of methods when employing new talent today. However, it is time to recognise that the industry has undergone tremendous changes, ultimately impacting how small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) recruit great talent and how great talent find the right employer.

Changing times

Advances in technology has led to rapid change for small businesses as it permeates daily life more than ever before. SMEs need to mirror the behaviours and demands of the millennial population, who count for a large part of today’s eager jobseekers. This demographic is highly dependent upon the smartphone and more tech-savvy than ever. What they expect the recruitment process to be is very different today to what it was 10 or more years ago.

Alongside innovation in technology, Theresa May’s recent appointment as prime minister and the uncertainty following Brexit means SMEs, and the employment industry, are facing significant change, namely around law reform.

Although there’s no doubt that a new prime minister and the reality of Brexit will affect small businesses, it is too early to determine to what extent this will be. We know that political negotiations, new trade deals and new legislation to replace some of the EU laws need to be carried through and agreed upon, and this is building up a palpable level of uncertainty amongst small businesses.

Confusion about employment regulations

According to recent official data from the Pensions Regulator, the number of employers being fined up to £10,000 a day for not complying with the new regulations on workplace pensions, has shot up by 300% in three months. This isn’t too much of a surprise as only 37% of SME owners consider themselves to have a clear understanding of all matters to do with employee rights and employer regulations – keeping up to date on continuous regulatory changes is hard and time-consuming

Recruitment is an essential task for business owners. So why, when there’s so much at stake, are small businesses in the UK still taking enormous risks when hiring and managing their staff? A few explanations may be:

  • Some small businesses sadly don’t have the HR functions or dedicated employment expertise required, so the time burden of finding new talent and the risk of non-compliance with employment regulations are both major pain points
  • 77% of SME owners are directly responsible for the entire hiring process, which ultimately takes the business owner away from other core responsibilities of running a company
  • It can often take between two and five days for SME owners to hire and ‘onboard’ a new candidate, which limits operational resources and takes business owners away from other integral responsibilities
Time is of the essence

Technological advancements have impacted how, when and where the recruitment process is carried through and SMEs need to fully embrace these to ensure they don’t miss out on connecting with the best and most qualified candidates. To be able to deliver better hiring outcomes faster and more effectively, SME owners need to embrace the latest technology. Digital tools should not be seen as a threat but rather as a smoother and more time-efficient way to operate and increase profitability.

Technology supports businesses to innovate and help them deliver better hiring outcomes. SMEs need to streamline the recruitment process by adjusting and accommodating to new requirements and the accompanying legislation. They need to reduce the administrative and HR burden of recruitment, and partner with the right technology and tools to find more time and cost efficient ways of hiring new talent.

By James Peck, UK managing director of Jobandtalent