By Marcus Leach

Research carried out on behalf of SHL has found that UK businesses employing up to 250 people are potentially wasting thousands of pounds and valuable management time each year on their recruitment process.

With more than two thirds of respondents (68%) planning to recruit in the next 12 months, optimism is there. The survey suggests, however, that 88% have regretted hiring a particular individual in the last year, due mainly to a combination of the individual being ‘not up to what was required’ (33%), a ‘lack of skills’ (47%) or ‘subsequent poor performance’ (35%).

Small businesses cannot afford to get these decisions wrong - 61% of those surveyed intend to use a recruitment consultant this year and nearly half (46%) think it is acceptable to pay a fee of up to 15% of the employee’s salary. With a UK average salary of £25,900 (Annual Survey of Hours & Earnings, December 2010), this could mean a bill of up to £4,000.

The CV and interview have always been mainstays of recruitment, but the research found that 95% of small businesses would like to speed up this process, and that more than half (52%) claimed interviewing unsuitable candidates wastes valuable business time. So what is the solution?

The use of objective assessment of individuals can help on both counts, by providing a valuable sifting of potential job candidates and assessment of their competencies through online assessment. With 87% of respondents saying that cultural fit and attitude are equally as important (52%) or more important (35%) than qualifications when recruiting a new employee, objective assessment also offers a highly valuable means of measuring whether an individual will be an appropriate fit for a job and the organisation.

But there is an apparent perception issue when it comes to objective assessment. 87% of small businesses think it is too expensive, unnecessary or exclusively for use by large businesses.

Julian Wenban, SME Business Manager from SHL recognises this common misconception and counters: “Arguably the use of objective assessment when recruiting is even more important for a smaller organisation, where management has less time and is more concerned with controlling cost.”

“Assessment can provide any business, small or large, with invaluable insight as to whether an individual will thrive in that particular environment - this reduces the risk of a bad hire and ultimately saves the business money with increased productivity and reduced staff turnover.”

The research also showed that more than a third of respondents do not have any process in place for staff retention. “Given the cost and time it takes to bring in new staff, it is vital that even the smallest business takes time to consider how to keep their valuable individuals engaged and motivated,” concluded Wenban.