How to find good employees without breaking the bank

Having difficulty attracting talented employees? You’re not alone.

In fact, 37% of New Zealand small business owners rate on-the-job experience and lacklustre work ethic in potential employees as an obstacle to the growth of their business.

In order to get an edge over the competition, several professional services businesses are offering innovative – even radical – employee perks, in order to help attract and retain quality staff.

Allow employees to work remotely

Over the past decade, technologies such as cloud computing have revolutionised how we work.

Indeed, one in six New Zealand employees now have an arrangement with their employer allowing them to work from home, according to the Stats NZ Survey of working life: 2018.

Karly Boast is the People & Culture Manager at BCD Group, a Hamilton-based engineering firm that allows its staff to work remotely.

“We researched the idea and wanted to change the current way we work to better suit the 21st century,” she says.

She says the firm now has employees who work remotely from the South Island and Australia, while other employees have the option to work from their homes, some as a default, while others regularly or on an ad hoc basis.

“This initiative has had a positive impact on attracting talent in a market that has a real talent shortage,” Boast says.

“We’ve had talent directly approach us for jobs, as well as other business owners wanting to learn more about how they can implement remote working in their own business.”

The four-day work week

BCD is also trialing a much bolder strategy – a four-day work week. The idea of paying employees the same amount for 20% less time on the clock shot to international prominence in 2018 when local New Zealand business Perpetual Guardian trialed the concept with its staff.

Charlotte Lockhart, who owns Perpetual Guardian with partner Andrew Barnes, says the three-month trial was such a success that the company rolled it out as part of their permanent employment strategy last November.

“We’ve basically been running it for a year now. And the talent of people applying for jobs with us has increased enormously,” says Lockhart, who has since launched and become CEO of the not-for-profit community 4 Day Week Global.

Not only that, adds Lockhart, but staff retention rates have also improved, although she admits a small number of staff didn’t enjoy being measured on their productivity and initially left.

Lockhart says one of the unexpected benefits has been that employees now better understand how the business works, which in turn has led changes to streamline processes.

“When you say to staff, ‘We need to develop productivity measures across the whole business so that I can give you time off’, they’ll sit down with their teams and look at ways to make it happen,” she says.

More ways to attract talented staff

  1. Annual leave – offer employees more than the minimum four weeks’ annual leave each year.
  2. Acknowledge out of office work – if employees regularly answer emails or take calls outside of work hours, reward them with paid time off.
  3. Employee referrals – your best employees know what it takes to nail their job. Incentivise them to refer strong candidates from their network by setting up employee referral programs.
  4. Move to a more ideal location – no one wants to work in a dreary office setting. Consider relocating to an area that’s easily accessible via public transport and close to nice parks and cafes where your staff can enjoy their breaks.
  5. Advertise jobs on social media – the talented staff you want might often not be actively looking for a new position and frequenting online jobs boards. Instead, try going to where they are by advertising job openings on social media platforms.
  6. Highlight the ‘career opportunity’ – the number one reason people change jobs is ‘career opportunity’, according to LinkedIn hiring research. So make sure you clearly outline what career path your job can provide applicants in both the online ad and when you meet with them.

Need to hire more staff to grow and make the most of big opportunities? Talk to a Prospa business finance specialist about whether a small business loan can help get you there.

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