How SMEs can source the right people in the face of talent shortage

staff, talent acquisition, recruitment

In the current economic landscape, SMEs face a daunting challenge: navigating a pervasive talent shortage with inherently limited resources. If SMEs are to stay competitive, they need to be thinking about how they can attract and retain the right talent without blowing their budgets. Here’s how you do it.

Embracing non-traditional talent pools

The first step is broadening the net SMEs cast upon potential candidates. This means looking beyond the conventional job market to include interns, older candidates, people with disabilities and other groups that are traditionally overlooked. Leaders and hiring teams should focus on identifying people with the right attitude and values then training them in specific skills as needed, rather than holding out for the elusive ‘perfect’ candidate.

SMEs should also consider hiring candidates who are primarily motivated by workplace flexibility, such as parents, students or those interested in job-sharing arrangements. Supported by flexible work arrangements, such as hybrid and remote working or flexitime, these candidates can become diligent and dedicated team members. Remember, recruitment isn’t just about filling positions, it’s about building a diverse and dynamic team that can drive your business forward.

Building a magnetic employer brand

Attracting the right talent also hinges on how businesses present themselves to the world. I believe small businesses need to focus on how they can attract talent, rather than relying solely on job advertisements, which can be costly and often ineffective.

SMEs must focus on building a strong employer brand, a brand that resonates with their values and culture, so they can build a pool of talent that wants to work with them because they have great leaders and an awesome culture. This can be achieved by actively engaging on platforms like LinkedIn, sharing stories that highlight their unique culture and participating in leadership awards and culture certifications.

At Leadership HQ, our Outstanding Leadership Awards and Outstanding Culture Certifications are platforms designed to recognise and amplify businesses that are making significant strides in these areas.

Investing in leadership and culture

A critical component of attracting and retaining top talent is the investment in leadership development and training. For SMEs, this means not just appointing leaders, but continuously supporting their growth through tailored training programs and workshops. By doing so, businesses not only enhance their operational efficiency, but also cultivate authentic, courageous and inclusive leadership that inspires and attracts employees who are seeking workplaces where they can grow personally and professionally.

Marketing the intangible

The intangibles of a workplace, such as a sense of belonging, a shared mission or the opportunity for professional growth, often carry more weight than the tangible benefits. SMEs need to emphasise these intangibles in their recruitment materials and interviews, highlighting real stories of employee success, leadership responsiveness and career progression within the company. For some candidates, this is more compelling than traditional job benefits packages.

By valuing diversity, enhancing employer brand, investing in leadership and marketing your unique culture, small businesses can transform the talent shortage into an opportunity for growth and innovation, while creating more inclusive and attractive workplace environments.