December 6, 2016

How Innovation Can Help Your Business Attract and Retain Talent


For many successful SMEs, skills shortages present a frustrating and significant barrier to their growth ambitions.

It’s an issue affecting an increasing proportion of businesses. Two-thirds of firms struggling with skills shortages told the UK Commission for Employment & Skills (UKCES) that they have suffered a direct financial impact through the loss of business to competitors and higher operating costs.

Plugging into Talent Networks

The limited availability of talent makes stepping into the recruitment market a daunting experience for SMEs, particularly as job hunters now have so many ways of connecting with employers beyond the traditional job advert. While it’s easy to be intimidated by the salaries, perks and profile on offer at bigger firms, the use of creative recruitment and retention strategies can offset these factors.

Online job search and networking tools such as LinkedIn increase the chances of meeting potential recruits who fit your profile, including those not actively looking for a new job. But making the most of social media requires a strong and engaging presence by your senior staff, as well as a company website that is up to date and with application forms enabled for smartphone use.

Innovating Your Talent Strategy

Modern talent recruitment channels are certainly opening more doors, but to close the skills gap, businesses also need to be innovative in a broader sense.

Organisations struggling to attract the skilled individuals they need should take a hard look at the way they operate and consider whether they’re doing enough to keep their brightest and best employees engaged.

The digital revolution is about so much more than social networking tools. Talent retention depends more and more on automation. By digitising information and automating routine processes, your business will no longer have to snarl its valued employees up in unwieldy and cumbersome ways of working.

Rather than having them waste time on chasing paper trails, the automation of business processes should create more time for the talented individuals in your organisation to reach their full potential. According to McKinsey & Co, 45% of the activities individuals are paid to perform could be automated by adapting current technologies.

Businesses that put in place modern IT infrastructure that works well and looks good also stand a better chance of meeting the expectations of current and prospective employees. It’s not just millennials who are spending increasing amounts of their free time on the pristine interfaces of social networking tools designed by some of the world’s leading technology companies. By investing in innovative technologies, you’re signalling that you’re part of the future, and this will help both attract and retain the people you really want on board.

Flexible Ways of Working

Storing more of your data and information in the cloud will make it easier to adopt more flexible ways of working. This could be pivotal in attracting talent in what is increasingly a globalised job market. Migrating both customer-facing and back-office applications to the cloud, and making them available on the employee’s choice of device will make it easier for everyone to go the extra mile for your business.

A 2016 global survey by the CIPD reported that 83% of employers and employees said “adopting flexible working had resulted in improvements in productivity”. And 58% believed that it had an impact on their organisation’s reputation.

Towards a More Talented Workforce

The talent problem isn’t just a matter of scarcity of skills; employee loyalty seems to be on the decline. 25% of millennial employees surveyed by Deloitte in 2016 expected to leave their current employer by the following year.  

Only by innovating your business will you be able to attract and hold on to the skilled individuals you need. Innovation starts with recruitment - using platforms such as LinkedIn to reach out to the people you’re targeting - but is more fundamentally about the conditions in which your staff are working and how you harness technology to bring out their talents.

Are You Struggling to Attract and Retain SME Talent? Download: The Business Leader’s Library. Volume 4: Talent Management

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