20/06/2014

By Simon Conington, MD of recruitment specialists BPS and Chair of the Engineering and Technical Group at REC,

The number one priority on any business owner’s agenda should be to build a strong and loyal team. The businesses who do this most effectively are those that become successful. But it is also one of the most challenging things to get right. How do you recruit and retain the best?

Business owners often make the mistake of thinking that salary is the number one thing that will attract good employees. But if that’s all you offer, you will only attract a certain sort of person, one for whom money is the strongest motivation, and who will therefore be less likely to be loyal and will remain open to a better financial offer. For the same reason I advise employers against poaching staff with high salary offers. Bribing people to join will drive up salaries across the industry and creates high staff turnover.

The salary you offer has to be competitive for the job, the industry and the region you’re in but it should also be tailored to the experience of the individual. You then need to ensure that your salary levels stay competitive and you reward the skills and experience gained, or others will poach your best employees.

Good people have their pick of employers and, just as you will look beyond CVs when recruiting, they will check you out to see just what sort of employer you’re likely to be and what impact you’re likely to have on their career. The best candidates will actively look for an employer with a good brand.

Candidates often start their research by looking you up online. What will they find when they Google you? What do your social media channels say about you? Sometimes the media can be very unfair, but if you do nothing to manage your reputation, those misrepresentations will be the first thing that good candidates will discover about you and it will act as a huge deterrent from them even considering you as an employer.

In both these searches candidates will also be looking for clues about your company culture. One of the things that will tell potential employees the most is your office. Have a look around with fresh eyes; what would your office tell an intelligent, ambitious new recruit about you? Why would they choose to work in your office? Why would someone want to stay working in your office?

The key to retaining good people is to ensure that they feel valued. An important aspect of that is helping them to develop their skills. If they can’t with you they’ll go elsewhere, or worse they’ll stay with you and their skills will go out of date. An effective training strategy requires a regular review process that identifies developmental needs and how they’ll be met.

It is also worth bringing in skills through recruitment. The companies that only promote from within don’t benefit from any challenges to their culture. They don’t get the chance to learn how others do things and they only have the experience of their own work. A recruit from a company with a prestigious brand will bring with them some of that credibility.

The secret to recruiting and retaining the right people for your business is to put as much thought into it as you do to winning and retaining customers. Having a good brand is the key to both.

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