The days of hiring and firing at will are long gone. The sooner the entrepreneur realizes the fact that people are equally, if not more important then money, the better they’ll be able to run their business. Investing in getting and retaining the right people is an art in itself. It will serve you well to familiarize yourself with the following very critical information.
Startups have an inherent challenge of attracting, hiring and retaining quality employees. Unfortunately this comes with the territory if you do not have a large budget to spend on reasonably, remunerating your employees.
The following are to be considered before hiring:
WORK FORCE PLANNING
This is a must for any business, be it a large organization or a start-up. The purpose of workforce planning is to identify future human resources requirements. The best way to do this for start-ups is to consider the following:
- How many personnel will be needed
- What will the functions be of the personnel
- What should the age profile be of the prospective personnel
- What skills should they possess
- Is there enough funds in the budget to sustain the personnel
These can easily be addressed in a job description, which is vital BEFORE embarking on the recruitment “drive”.
ADVERTISING VACANT POSITIONS
I’m sure we all agree that start-ups just don’t have the money to embark on a large advertising campaign. The easiest way to address this issue is to use the following methods:
- Word-of-mouth – spreading the word through your networks, social circles and referrals
- Local community newspapers – these would normally offer free advertising or charge a nominal fee in comparison with larger print media
- Social Networks – it would serve any entrepreneur well to familiarize themselves with social media: Facebook; Twitter; Linked-In, etc. these applications can be utilized to full capacity and have a larger impact in terms of reaching prospective candidates
The recruitment process is the most important process in the employment flow. This is where the decision to hire a candidate can either pay off in the long run or be detrimental to your business.
Too many entrepreneurs consider this very lightly and sometimes add the burden of “carrying” the employee due to lack of skills or not carrying their weight.
Another pitfall is employing family members or friends who do not have the same desire to see the business succeed and are basically around for a “free ride”.
This is where hard decisions need to be taken and problems addressed sooner rather then later. The sooner you realize everyone’s vision does not necessarily align with yours, even if it is a family member or friend, the better it will be for your business growth and reputation of excellence.
Any person who does not have the same values, vision and mission as the business, has no business being there.
It is advisable to source people who live within reasonable distance of the workplace in order to eliminate absenteeism or late comings.
THE INTERVIEW PROCESS
Being a small business does not exclude you from conducting proper interviews. The following are ways to prepare and ensure you ask the right questions.
4.1 Competency based questions – these are questions that derive from the job description about the actual duties to be performed and whether the person is competent enough to perform the tasks.
4.2 Skills questions – these will give a clear indication if the information on the CV matches. The only way to authenticate information on a CV is to ask relevant questions pertaining to education and experience.
4.3 Value based questions – these are questions which give an indication of the inherent qualities on the candidate and is equally important as point 4.1 and 4.2
Questions should be well structured and each question should carry a score. The candidate who scores the highest will be the candidate of choice.
The only way to cover your bases is to make sure that each candidate is subjected to the same questions and method of interview. Being a small
business owner does not exempt your from being accused of prejudice
The following questions should be avoided:
- Age related
- Sexual orientation
- Political affiliation
- Family related questions that appear intrusive
CHECKING OF REFERENCE
Most job seekers are aware that their CVs should contain at least three references with contactable numbers and or email addresses. Since most small business owners do not have the luxury of administrative staff, the onus will be on the owner to contact these references, telephonically to save cost and to ask relevant questions such as:
- Work ethics (conduct)
- Confirm experience
- Period employed
- Whether he/she would be hired, again if given the opportunity.
For reference on educational background, the relevant institution can be contacted to ensure the certificate/Diploma/Degree is authentic.
- APPOINTING CANDIDATES
A telephonic offer can be made to the candidate, followed up with a formal letter of offer which includes the following:
- Name and address of candidate
- Starting date
- Benefits (leave, etc)
- Deductions (UIF, PAYE, etc.)
- Terms and conditions of employment
- RETAINING YOUR EMPLOYEES
Retaining your employees is definitely an art in itself, especially for small businesses who cannot compete with high salaries and elaborate benefits.
There are however various ways one can compensate or reward your staff for good work or for going the extra mile. These can be in the form of an afternoon or day off, or gift vouchers for employee of the month, etc.
Recognising your star performers is very important, but equally important is recognizing those who lag behind and address the situation sooner rather then later.
Having gone through the recruitment process and appointing “good” people, are never enough to guarantee quality output all the time[N1] , in other words, good staff does not guarantee quality output. A good attitude together with expertise may contribute towards a successful outcome.
Staff may get demoralized when the business takes a dip or when facing a job or family related challenge. Here it is advisable to have a one-on-one with the relevant staff member and get to the bottom of the problem. These underperformers may turn out to be your next stars with the right guidance and support. This is where leadership, credibility and trust from the owner can assist in changing attitudes.
It cannot be emphasized enough, ensure that people on board have the same values and buy into the vision and mission of the company, anyone who lacks this, will do your business more harm then good.
In the next issue we will be addressing the importance of company policies, legal compliance, staff relations, training and development and organizational behavior.