How to recruit the right person for your business

Most businesses struggle with recruitment at some point. It can be a time consuming and nerve wracking process. From working out the skills and experience you need, to writing the advert, then trawling through dozens of resumes and completing interviews to find that perfect needle in a haystack. It can be stressful for everyone.

We’ve found that the majority of recruitment in small and medium businesses is reactive. Someone hands in their resignation, gives a few weeks’ notice and the race to find, hire and train a replacement begins!  Given this pressure cooker situation, it’s no wonder than many businesses report procrastinating for fear of getting it wrong or choosing a less than ideal candidate in the rush to fill the vacancy.

But it doesn’t have to be this way! There is a huge array of tools, expert advice and technology available to get you closer to welcoming that fantastic new employee into your business. The workforce dynamic is changing rapidly and this means that the way we recruit is changing too.

If you’ve ever found it difficult to find the right candidate, you’re not alone!

  • 86% of recruiters and 62% of employers felt the 2016 labour market was candidate-driven. (Source: MRINetwork)
  • The 3 main barriers to hiring are; finding suitable candidates (46%), compensation (43%) and competition (39%). (Source: LinkedIn)
  • 60% of candidates have quit a recruitment process because it was too lengthy. (Source: Officevibe)
  • The average cost per new hire is now at $4,000. (Source: Officevibe)
  • 58% of small businesses reported “hiring or trying to hire” and 52% reported “lack of qualified applicants” as reasonsfor open positions in 2016. (Source: NFIB)

With this in mind, organisations need to regularly review the way they recruit in order to stay ahead. Often businesses baulk at the terms ‘recruitment strategy’ or ‘talent management’. They see these as HR functions designed only for big corporates, but the truth is that these jargon-heavy activities are just as applicable for small and medium organisations. In fact, it could be what gives them the edge in a crowded, candidate-driven labour market.

Here are a few practical pointers when approaching your next recruitment process:

  • Consider the real business need with fresh eyes

Before you drag out an old position description and job advert from 2010 to slap up on a job board, STOP! Think carefully about what has changed in your business and what is likely to change in future so that you can focus on the genuine requirements of the role. Question old habits or beliefs which have been accepted for years, for example: is this an opportunity to redistribute responsibility amongst the team? Could this be a part time role? What emerging skills does the business need? What behaviours and values align to your business growth?

  • What’s in it for the candidate?

Once you’ve determined the role requirements, think about the ideal candidate. What’s in it for them? If you want to attract the best people, you need to consider their needs and interests so that you can stand out from the hundreds of other advertisements. Just like you need to understand your value proposition when speaking with your customers, the same goes for candidates. In a competitive job market, you need to articulate what’s different about your workplace and how that might suit a great candidate.

A few things that candidates find attractive:

  • Flexible working hours or ability to work from home
  • Commitment to ongoing training or career development
  • Friendly or relaxed work environment
  • Generous bonus or incentive schemes
  • Proximity to transport, schools or childcare facilities
  • Free and convenient car parking
  • Job security

It’s often a worthwhile exercise to talk to your existing employees and ask them what they value most so that you can ensure that you’re painting a realistic picture to potential new employees.

  • Write a simple, honest advert and communicate promptly

Firstly, write in plain English and be succinct about the requirements of the role. Candidates are scanning your advert and dozens of others. If you’ve filled the page with long waffly sentences and confusing jargon, people will move on. Also consider the way that you write and ensure that it reflects the culture of your business. For example, if you’re a relaxed, laid back workplace that values having fun and working as a team, don’t write an advert that’s formal, stuffy and reinforces individualistic goals. Make sure the message is consistent with your business and you’ll attract more suitable candidates.

Secondly, the simplest way to impress a candidate is to run a prompt and professional recruitment process. If you demonstrate that you are a professional and trustworthy business who is on top their processes and keeps to their timeframes, then you’re ahead of the pack. Good candidates will be snapped up quickly so ensure that you’re resourced to get the job done in a reasonable time frame.

Recruitment is an important activity with the potential for great return on investment if done well, take the time and put in the effort to get the most out of the opportunity.

New Employee Onboarding – How to ensure they hit the ground running

Induction. On-boarding. Orientation. They’re all commonly used but awkwardly cold terms used to describe the initial experience of a new starter.

We’re talking about the moment they accept your job offer, to their start date, right through to the completion of their probation period.

While these terms won’t disappear any time soon, the team at Davis Bibby & Co have a view that it’s a useful mindset shift to think about this process as being more about how you welcome a new person to your team. Why? This period of time is really make or break for new employees. Having a welcoming mindset when planning out their first few months can make all the difference in their first impressions of your organisation and improve their experience for the long term.

Perhaps you’re thinking that a structured and thoughtful plan for every new starter is a lot of hard work for very little reward? While it certainly takes effort, we believe that the return on investment is worth it.

Consider these statistics:

  • 22% of turnover happens within the first 45 days of employment (The Wynhurst Group)
  • It can cost 33% of an employee’s salary to replace him/her (HR Dive)
  • 90% of executives said keeping new hires is an issue in their business (Korn Ferry)
  • New employees who had a structured onboarding program were 58% more likely to be with the organization in 3 years (The Wynhurst Group)

The impact of not having a plan to welcome your new team member into the organisation can be very significant. Not only negatively impacting your new hire, but also colleagues, the manager and of course the broader business.

The good news is, a fantastic new hire experience is achievable with a bit of forward planning and effort.

Top tips:

  • Be organised

Before your new team member starts, create a plan that covers the things you need to organise before they start (example: training, equipment, IT access, desk space, safety inductions. Then plan their first day, week, month and even broaden that out to 3 to 6 months. Consider what information you can provide them ahead of time so that they arrive feeling prepared.

  • Keep in touch

Give your new staff member a call in the lead up to their start date and let them know what to expect when they arrive. Send them important information about upcoming events, perhaps offer to connect them to their team mates ahead of time so that they have a chance to get to know who they’ll be working with.

  • Be thoughtful

It’s often the small things that have the most impact and can make people feel genuinely welcome. Send out an email to the rest of the business letting them know you’ve got a new team member starting and encourage people to say hello. Make sure their desk space is clean and there isn’t a drawer full of old filing from their predecessor. Organise a coffee break or lunch with the team on their first day so they have a chance to relax and get to know each other properly. Is your business big on acronyms? It might be helpful to provide a list of explanations ahead of time so they don’t feel they’re speaking another language.

It’s so important to take the time to make sure new team members have a positive first impression of your business and that you ensure they have everything they need to be successful. If you’d like more in depth suggestions about what to include in your plan, Roy Maurer has a great article which you can read here .

Employee Entitlements – Getting it right for your business

One of the most simple, but important decisions that business owners face is how to pay their staff.

While there is much more to rewarding and motivating employees than money, you still need to get it right.  An employee’s minimum pay rate can come from an award[1], enterprise agreement[2] or other registered agreement[3].  Employees have to be paid the right pay for all hours they work, including time spent training, in team meetings, opening and closing the business or working unreasonable trial shifts.

If paying by the award is right for your business, you need to keep up to date each year. The Fair Work Commission reviews the national minimum wage and pay rates under awards. Any changes that are made begin on the first full pay period on or after 1 July and these need to be passed on.

There are over 120 awards that cover the wide variety of jobs in Australia and apply to businesses and employees depending on the industry they work in and the type of job worked. Every award has information about who it covers, in the “coverage” clause and the job classifications. Single businesses can be covered by multiple awards depending on what jobs employees do.

A great resource for calculating minimum pay rates is the Fair Work Ombudsman website,  Here you will find tools to calculate minimum pay rates, penalties and allowances under an award.  You will also find calculators, pay guides and lots of other useful resources.

It’s also important to be aware that certain employees may have different pay entitlements depending on whether they have a reduced work capacity because of disability, if they’re under the age of 21 or if they are an apprentice or trainee.

While it might seem onerous to find the right award and become familiar with it, it’s an important part of understanding your business.  After all, wages are a big cost and all businesses should be confident that they are paying staff correctly.  If you get it wrong, not only are you risking the relationship that you have with your employees but you put yourself at risk of prosecution.

Where a breach of the NES or a modern award involves a monetary amount, such as underpayment of wages or leave entitlements, an employee or a workplace inspector on their behalf, may sue for recovery of the payment in an eligible court. The employer may not only have to pay the underpaid wages but may also be fined for the underpayment. The maximum penalty under the Act is $63,000 for each breach.

[1] Awards (modern awards) are legal documents that outline the minimum pay rates and conditions of employment.  There are 122 industry or occupation awards that cover most people who work in Australia.

[2] An enterprise agreement sets out minimum employment conditions and can apply to one business or a group of businesses

[3] A document between an employer and their employees regarding employment conditions. An agreement must be approved by and registered with the Fair Work Commission.

Is your recruitment process damaging your reputation?

Recruiting new staff recently can be a daunting task. Even if you know exactly what you’re looking for and have a great track record for assessing and selecting them.

Recruitment consists of multiple important steps with the end goal being to find and hire the best person for the job who will fit your culture. At each point, you’re collecting insights which help you progress the best candidates to the next stage and identify those who aren’t suitable. Usually, hiring managers do a good job communicating with successful candidates. But what about those who aren’t successful?

If you’re fortunate enough to have a superstar recruiter managing every hire, you might be comfortable that all your applicants are being handled appropriately. These days however, resources are scarce and it’s often the supervisor managing the recruitment process.

In a crowded marketplace where the competition for talent is fierce and businesses struggle to hire fast enough to meet demand, it’s understandable that hiring managers are focussed on the successful candidates. It’s also easier and more rewarding to be making the phone call to offer someone the job. However, actively communicating with people who aren’t right for your vacancy is just as critical if you want to keep attracting great talent in the future.

We’ve all had a bad recruitment experience.

Whether it was the 3 week delay between interview and the ‘unsuccessful call’, vague rejection feedback or failing to get back to you at all. These situations are completely unnecessary and more importantly, they tarnish the reputation of the business by disrespecting people who’ve taken the time to apply.

So how do you tell someone they didn’t get the job without it being unpleasant? The simplest answer is to treat each and every applicant, successful or not, as if they were your customer. Using this approach you can focus on delivering what they want i.e. prompt, respectful and relevant information about their enquiry.

Once you’ve assessed a candidate as not being suitable, let them know! People don’t appreciate being kept waiting. If you’ve not interviewed them, it’s fine to send an email thanking them for their interest and explain that they don’t yet have the necessary skills or experience. While they may be disappointed in the outcome, it’s a better experience than waiting and hoping. If you’ve interviewed them, either in person or on the phone, you need to call them and provide relevant feedback as to why they weren’t successful.

You might not like giving feedback that you see as being negative, but this phone call is not about you.

It’s about making sure the people who’ve taken the time to apply to work with you feel that they’ve been treated fairly and that their time hasn’t been wasted. Use this as an opportunity to provide respectful, thoughtful feedback which they can use to improve in the future.

By using common courtesy and a customer focused approach, you can mitigate risk of damage to your business’ reputation or brand. It’s also a great way to show that you’re a professional business and an opportunity to demonstrate the fantastic culture of your workplace, because you never know if the next person they talk to about their experience could be your next new hire!

Simple and low cost ways to retain staff

Chances are that attracting and retaining great people is a challenge you find yourself considering often. If you’ve already got a superstar team, then you’ll definitely be thinking about how to keep them.

In the modern world, the demand for talented staff is higher than ever, people are more mobile and new opportunities bombard them incessantly via their smart phone. If you want to keep ahead of the game, you need to be investing considerable effort into smart and cost effective strategies to keep those important people.

While a competitive remuneration package is a critical starting point, we’ve discovered that some of the best ways to retain staff are actually easy to implement and relatively low cost.

1. Encourage flexible work arrangements

Don’t merely offer flexible arrangements if someone asks, proactively encourage these for everyone, in every role! Flexible work arrangements are frequently ranked as one of the most valuable employee benefits in Australia. The best thing is that they can be easily implemented in almost any business.

Recognising the complexities of modern life and the various circumstances of your people means that flexibility is a great way to keep employees for the long term. Flexibility is different for everyone. You may have an employee with caring responsibilities, another who plays sport, someone with a long commute to the new office or someone keen to study. There are a myriad of reasons why people enjoy accessing flexibility at work and there are numerous ways that businesses can support this balance.

Encouraging flexible work arrangements is an important of demonstrating that you value people as individuals and their contribution to the workplace. It’s important to understand what matters to each person and to ensure that it’s of benefit to the company as well.

2. Recognise employee contributions

When people feel valued by their employer, they’re more likely to deliver above expectations and they’re more likely to stay with the company for longer. It’s never been easier to recognise people’s’ contributions in the workplace in a meaningful way, no matter what size business you work in.

We often hear people say, ‘employees are paid a wage, that’s their recognition’. While this may be true, the difference between staff who do the bare minimum versus those who contribute above and beyond, is significant. Recognition doesn’t have to mean paying a higher salary or a bonus. It could be as simple as a personal thank you to an individual for helping out or a team lunch to celebrate an achievement.

Being thoughtful about recognising your employees is easy and the benefits are often far greater than the time or cost invested.

3. Communicate clearly and honestly

It’s one of those fundamentals that companies often neglect. Everyone is so busy getting the work done that we sometimes forget to check that we’re communicating as well as we should be.

People want to be kept in the loop about what’s happening in the organisation. They typically don’t like surprises and they want to understand how they are expected to contribute. Ensure that you’re engaging with staff on regularly, both on an individual and team level. Involve them in upcoming plans, ask for their feedback, get them involved in solving problems so that they feel connected. Most importantly, take a proactive approach to difficult conversations.

If something isn’t quite right, be honest about it so that people have the opportunity to fix it. In our experience, nothing good ever comes from ignoring that difficult conversation.

People are the lifeblood of your business and a high performing, engaged team is your single most valuable asset. Just like other assets, you need to protect it and continue to maintain it’s value. Having a retention plan is a smart business strategy. It will allow you to build motivation and loyalty which will reduce your recruitment and training costs. In securing your experienced and talented team, your business can continue to achieve it’s goals.