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BusinessDesk x Prospa: 4 ways small business owners can recruit and retain staff

Jane Kennelly and Dr Jarrod Haar joined our recent webinar in partnership with BusinessDesk to share their top tips for small businesses looking to improve their HR, and recruit and retain staff.

At a glance

Here’s a snapshot of the advice from our interviewees:

  • A good conversation is worth a hundred fruit bowls. Don’t assume you know what your employees want – ask them.
  • A good conversation is worth a hundred fruit bowls. Don’t assume you know what your employees want – ask them.
  • Your staff are your best resource – consider using their expertise for training and development opportunities, and for recruiting.

With talent shortages and pressure on wages, recruiting and retaining qualified and experienced staff is challenging. In our recent webinar, in partnership with BusinessDesk, we heard that while staffing issues are keeping business owners up at night, there are steps that help small business owners hold on to the people they’ve got and, when needed, find qualified help.

1. Make employee wellbeing a top priority

Jane Kennelly points out that employee wellbeing is now less about gym memberships and fruit bowls, and more about understanding what truly matters to your staff. That could be  money, flexibility, access to an employee assistance program, the opportunity to learn or train more, or just to have their voice heard and included in discussions about the business.

She recommends avoiding one-size-fits-all wellbeing solutions in favour of treating employees like individuals. While one staff member might love free yoga sessions, another might just like to use that time to attend their child’s school concert – assume less and listen more.

Meaningful conversations with your employees are the best way to gauge how they are doing and what matters to them. These conversations need to demonstrate that you genuinely care about their wellbeing and their success in your business. So don’t be late and do be prepared – the quality of that conversation could be the difference between a valuable employee deciding to stick around instead of looking elsewhere for a culture that suits them better.

2. Embrace the superpower you already have

Dr Haar believes most small businesses have a huge advantage they might not be aware of – fewer employees. This means they can do something most big companies can never achieve – get to know every one of their staff members. This gives the business owner a valuable opportunity to be transparent and authentic with their staff, and to understand what matters to them.

“There might be someone on the team who’d be willing to take on the role of mentor or to share their expertise and experience one afternoon a week.”

Again, one-on-one conversations can really count when it comes to preventing staff turnover. It could be a matter of finding out that for one employee, a raise is critical to their decision to stay or go. For another employee, the key to their satisfaction at work might be less time spent on a commute and more time spent working at home.

Or it might be that, after two years of COVID ups and downs, your whole team needs some clarity about where the business stands so they can feel confident enough to skip the job ads and concentrate on the job they have.

3. Showcase your culture and make everyone a recruiter

Ask yourself this question, says Jane: why would someone want to leave their comfortable, secure job and come work for me?

Yes, sometimes it will just be about the money. But most of the time culture is also influential. Is your business’s culture family-friendly? Is it social? How are people treated? Is it community-minded? Is it flexible?

Figure out what it is about your business that’s attractive to a potential employee and work with that. Find stories that demonstrate those qualities so people can understand what their future with you might look like, and tell those stories in your recruitment.

And Dr Haar’s tip? Get your staff to recruit for you. Sometimes they know better than anyone who will be a good fit and a successful employee.

4. Turn your experts into mentors

The opportunity for more training and development is great motivation for staying in a job but the cost to the employer can be an issue. If that’s the case, says Dr Haar, look to your existing resources. There might be someone on the team who’d be willing to take on the role of mentor or to share their expertise and experience one afternoon a week.

And on the subject of costs, be mindful that a training course or pay rise now could save you considerably in the future. Weigh up the cost of keeping a skilled employee against the cost of a position you can’t fill or money wasted on the wrong people.

5. Act now

Dr Haar and Jane Kennelly agree: you can’t sit around waiting for things to get better. These challenges aren’t going to disappear overnight and it’s small business owners who act now to improve their HR strategies who will make it through these tough times.

Talking with and listening to your employees is critical to reducing staff turnover and maximising your chances of recruiting the right people.

Watch the full Prospa Small Business Series episode below.

Need flexible funding to cover unexpected cash flow gaps? Find out about Prospa’s new Line of Credit.

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