Attract, select, retain and motivate great staff

The easiest way to deliver success is to have great staff who know what do to and  how to do it well; who have a positive attitude and forward thinking approach; who are reliable, flexible and committed.  Are these your people? 

7 Top Tips for attracting, selecting, retaining and motivating great staff:

number 1

Be positive about your people

  • Being realistic, a lot of your staff will never have the same passion for your business that you do.  However, most people want to feel part of something that has purpose and momentum, where they can make a tangible contribution.  Most also take pride in their work and will give their best if the conditions are right.
  • You will make a mistake if you lead your business on the basis that staff can’t be trusted, have no interest and are just trying to take advantage of you.  This will produce a negative culture.  Granted, we all know some people who behave like this – but you should see them as the exception not the rule.
  • Work out how to inspire your best employees and deal with your worst. 

number 2

Understand why some staff don’t have these positive attributes

  • If you don’t know why some staff are negative and holding you back, why not find out?  One of the biggest obstacles to managing staff issues is a reticence to talk about problems openly and ask why they are occurring.  Our main observations are that a) managers can find it hard to give honest, personal feedback about what isn’t right and b) they may also struggle to ask the right questions and really listen to the answers.  Mastery of these simple skills can transform your management and leadership by connecting with and understanding your employees.
  • Employee surveys are often used to find out how staff in general feel about working in your company.  From this you can work out what broad issues you need to address in order to increase motivation and therefore the quality and efficiency of what is produced.  We confidently predict that the most negative comments will be about ‘communication’ – but try to ascertain what lies beneath! 

number 3

Work out what would attract ideal candidates to your business.

  • Getting the best staff on board from the beginning makes life so much easier.  But attracting the best candidates means you need to have an appealing proposition that isn’t just ‘smoke and mirrors’.  Don’t sell an Audi and deliver a Lada!
  • Good candidates will look for a well described role where there’s an opportunity to make their mark, use their key skills, have some autonomy and learn from new experiences.  They will be attracted to somewhere that has a clear sense of purpose and ambition and where they will feel valued and respected. The impressions they gain from your communication, website and initial meetings will be key.   
number 4

Use cost effective ways of sourcing candidates and learn how to assess them properly.

  • The internet has revolutionised the way in which companies find candidates.  This opens up possibilities to find your ideal employees without going straight to traditional advertising or agency routes.  Navigating all the on line options can be very confusing however – and simply posting a job on to an online job board is not cutting the mustard anymore!  You need a digital media strategy that broadcasts your employer brand and the job opportunities available to both active and passive job seekers.  This means harnessing the potential of search engines, job boards and social media in a joined up strategy.  Most SMEs need help with this, but if you are able to increase your direct hires and reduce your agency spend by just a little bit, it can be very cost effective.
    • If you were going to buy a piece of equipment for £20,000 and then spend £20,000 each year to maintain it, how thoroughly would you check it out prior to purchase?   Is your ‘gut reaction’ really enough to go on?  When it comes to hiring people, it’s surprising how often it’s the only basis for a decision.  Do you know what to do with candidates when you have found them?    The skills involved in interviewing help you to make good investment decisions.  Plus, the skills involved have multiple applications for interacting with customers and staff.  Are you and your managers trained?  There are other ways to test candidates’ abilities and backgrounds too through testing and checking their credentials.  Here again, the internet has made these processes much cheaper and more accessible. 
number 5

Take positive steps to motivate your people to excel – and stay with the company.

  • Companies that do this best, work to a set of positive values that influence all the ways in which they organise and manage their staff.  It is therefore important that you do things ‘your way’.  However, some basics to consider include:
    • Provide regular information about the business and allow for 2 way communication so that staff can have a say, contribute ideas and be listened to.
    • Design job roles to give staff some autonomy and help them to see how it is important to overall success. 
    • Train your managers in how to treat their staff with respect, help their staff to develop skills and get the best out of them.
    • Use an appraisal process as an opportunity to spend time on staff members’ performance, future plans and development
    • Provide a decent working environment
    • Celebrate the success of individuals and teams
    • Offer fair pay and benefits
    • Find out what motivates key employees and address relevant issues  
number 6

Make sure your pay and benefits arrangements are competitive.

  • You need to pay the right amount to ‘be in the game’ and be able to attract the right candidates.  Are you aware of where you stand in your sector?  The web provides some easy and inexpensive ways of checking.   For example, the website pulls together all vacancy postings from across different job sites and you can use the search functionality to get an idea of what employers are paying in your area.
  • Consider also the competitiveness of your other key benefits such as holiday entitlements.  Can you offer flexible hours?
  • You can offer some attractive staff benefits inexpensively.  For example; advertising corporate discount schemes; using salary sacrifice to offer employees a choice of additional benefits; an Employee Assistance Programme that can offer a wealth of practical support on work, health, family and domestic issues for employees.  This can help minimise the impact of personal problems on work and help protect the employer from the effects and risks associated with, e.g. work place stress issues.  These things also add to your ‘employer brand’ that you can use to attract good candidates.
  • Now that you are obliged to have Pension arrangements in place, what is your approach?  If you do the bare minimum, what does this say about you?  Pensions are one of the few remaining tax efficient ways of providing employee benefits, so think carefully how you want to approach it and the message you want your employees (and potential employees) to receive about how much you look after them.
number 7

Reward (financially or otherwise) the right results / skills / behaviours

  • Think back to your vision, objectives and values.  Do you reward excellent examples?  For example, if you have a bonus payment do you base it on the main measures of success for your business?  On a smaller scale, how do you reward an excellent example of, say, customer service when someone has ‘gone the extra mile?  Some retail vouchers are low cost but send out powerful signals about how much you value your staff and what are the main drivers of success.
  • Employee shares can be used as an effective way of incentivising key employees, giving them a stake in the business and linking their reward to the long term success of the company.  This can help to retain them and provides the opportunity for rewarding them in a tax efficient manner.

Are you maximising the return on your investment in staff?

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