Sage HR & Payroll Newsroom

For the best talent - how small businesses can compete

27 September 2017

By Heidi Duvenage, Head of Sage Talent Solutions

Millennials and chameleon workers are rapidly becoming the largest sector of the workforce and they're demanding change: they want to work whenever, wherever - and they don't want to be micro-managed.

A Deloitte study found that 75% of millennials want more opportunities to work remotely, which they say will increase job satisfaction and boost their productivity.

Yet, few Small & Medium Businesses buy into the importance of investing in their HR capabilities, even though finding and retaining top talent directly impacts business success.

Reasons for this include:

  • High recruitment costs and frustrating agency recruitment experiences;
  • Positioning a business as an employer of choice takes time and effort;
  • Retaining and investing in top talent, only to have them headhunted by larger organisations with bigger salary budgets, is a
  • never-ending battle.

But when it comes to recruiting top talent, small businesses have a few advantages over larger enterprises:

Better work-life integration

Traditionally, we spoke about work-life balance, which suggested clear separation between our work and personal lives. Today, with the power of connectivity, mobile technology and communication tools that allow us to work from anywhere, the focus is shifting towards work-life integration, where the two overlap and there is no structure or definite separation.

Just like the executive who responds to work emails in the evenings, some millennials might prefer to take Friday off and work on Sunday. Digital natives place more value on flexible schedules and telecommuting as important non-financial employer benefits. Small businesses who are not bogged down by traditional processes and working styles can easily implement flexibility and remote working. When clearly communicated as a job perk, you'll immediately have their attention.

Disruptive technologies

A Google search of 'artificial intelligence in the workplace' returns more than 26 million hits - and we've only started exploring its use cases. This disruptive technology will turn established industries and business models on their heads.

The promise of artificial intelligence (AI) is that businesses can deliver new, more cost-effective products and services to a global audience. While a big part of this is using machines to think for us and to automate departments, we don't yet know what the real impact AI will have on jobs.

But for the HR department, AI offers an opportunity to re-invent traditional employment models and to leverage big data and machine learning to find the best people.

Redefining performance

The continued rise of the gig economy is evidence that top talent prefer environments that reward project work, rather than hours clocked and time spent in the office, which stifles creativity and productivity.

Again, because small businesses have small HR departments, it's easier to make the shift from the traditional 8 to 5 model to one that supports project, delivery-based work and flexible working hours.

The gig economy also gives business builders instant access to top skills and high-quality services at a fraction of the cost of a full-time hire. This employment model drives agility - a key ingredient to business growth and success.

Branding

A business' brand is its differentiator: it's what makes it distinctive and defines the culture and working experience; it's what attracts clients and talent to your organisation and keeps them coming back - or staying.

It's easier than ever to communicate your brand values and offerings through engaging content - and your current team members are the perfect brand advocates. Let them share why they love working with you and tap into their network of potential top talent.

Brands like Nike, Google and Lululemon clearly communicate who they are, what their culture is like, and the kind of person who would thrive in that culture.

Be sure to continuously communicate why your business culture is different - not just when you're looking to hire someone. Soon, people will be knocking on your door with their CVs in hand.

The race for top talent is well underway, as businesses adapt their systems and processes for a changing world of work, demanded by millennials, underpinned by agility and driven by technology. Small businesses are well-positioned to move with the change by optimising their HR practices, evolving their working styles and clearly communicating their differentiator to attract top skills.

*For more insights on how to position yourself as an employer of choice, join the Sage Recruitment Seminar on 26 October 2017. Featuring special guests Dr Michael Moll, Wesley Madziva and Ryan Falkenberg, the day promises to be jam-packed with recruitment insights, cost-saving talent solutions, time-saving online recruitment strategies and tools to master employee retention.