5 Ways to drive business growth through your people

There’s no doubt the Covid-19 pandemic has put business owners under unprecedented pressure. It’s been a long year of uncertainty. But, thanks to the heroic efforts of NHS staff, the vaccine rollout has been a huge success. We’re all now looking forward to returning to our lives. We’re also excited for business to be booming once again and for entrepreneurs to get back to doing what they do best, without limitations.

In the business world, everyone is ready to get back on track as we find ways to drive revenue and increase profit. You will probably also be looking at how you can cut costs to give your organisation the best fighting chance.

Cutting costs and driving growth is a long game. Sure, there are quick fixes you can make to save money. You could sell off stock and reduce overtime, but if you want to secure your long-term future, the biggest gains can be made through your people.

Recruiting the best talent

Even though businesses have become better at coping with lockdowns, most economists expect unemployment to continue to rise. This means there will be more people competing for vacancies.

Now, you’d be forgiven for thinking this makes your life a lot easier when it comes to recruitment. But that isn’t necessarily the case. Yes, you might have more candidates to choose from, but the volume of applications makes the task of selecting the best talent even harder.

A successful recruitment strategy takes time and specific expertise to develop. So, how can you make this task easier?

• The first thing you need to do is to understand your business needs. Each time a vacancy opens up, take time to analyse what you need before you rush out a job advert. You don’t want to be left under-capacity, but taking care to define what you need will pay off in the long term.
• Once you have separated your essentials from your nice-to-haves, you can then create a comprehensive job description that really nails the skills and experience you need for your business.
• You could also consider proactively sourcing qualified candidates rather than waiting for them to come to you.
• Once you have your applications in, you can screen CVs against your job description and candidate specification. You can also incorporate psychometric testing to further pin down a candidate’s suitability.
• You will then use what you have learnt from the above steps to define your interview strategy. For example, more junior roles might need only one interview. But more senior roles might require a multi-round process complete with skills tests and presentations.

If you can get this phase right, you will earn serious brownie points from your future self. Nailing the recruitment process means you’re more likely to hire the right people for the job. This will help to reduce staff turnover, saving you a whole heap of money.

Retaining top talent

So, once you’ve put all that effort into hiring the right people, how do you hang onto them?

We’ve got a bit of good news for you – retaining top talent starts at the recruitment phase. So, you’re already more than halfway there.

But, what else can you do to make sure that your best staff stay with you? With high turnover comes high costs, and nobody wants that. So, get this right and you’re golden.

1. Rewards and recognition. A well-timed ‘thank you’ can mean a lot. It might not sound like much, but you’d be amazed at the impact a bit of appreciation can have. But don’t fall into the trap of giving blanket and generic praise. It’s shouldn’t be just another task ticked off your to-do list. It should be personal and tailored to the individual. You also need tangible rewards for good performance. You might want to introduce a bonus or incentive scheme, or an annual awards ceremony.

2. Flexibility. This has very much been the name of the game over the past year. Employers have had no choice but to be more flexible with working arrangements. Although we’re all keen to get back to the office, it might be worth thinking about a more hybrid way of working. Employees may welcome the opportunity to reduce their travel time by choosing to work from home for part of the week.

3. Work-life balance. This speaks to recognising that your employees are whole people with lives outside of work. Give them time and flexibility to pursue their passions and they’ll thank you for it. If they have families, recognise that sometimes they might want time off for school functions. Offer them ways to work around this.

4. Open up communication. Clear and consistent communication is key to a happy work environment. If you don’t share your key messages and vision with them, how will they know what you need? You might also want to get regular feedback from your employees about what is and isn’t working in the organisation. Don’t leave it until an exit interview. Prevent it from even getting to that stage by finding out why they stay. Get their suggestions about what could be improved.

Employee training

This is bound up with regular appraisals and identifying targets for improvement. Staff want to feel that you are meeting their personal development needs. Don’t let them have their heads turned by competitors who offer better CPD.

Again, personal development is just that – personal. It needs to be tailored to individual needs and strengths. This will be supported by regular appraisals where you can set objectives and review performance. It should always be led by the employee. Nothing should be a surprise to them, as regular feedback and support should be ingrained within your culture.

Wherever possible, you should be looking to promote internally, so you will need a robust succession strategy in place.

Companies who invest in training and development will be rewarded by staff with high levels of morale, efficiency and performance. It will also work wonders for the company image and will have a knock-on effect in terms of reduced staff turnover.

Develop effective leaders

So, we all know what a bad manager looks like. They can’t delegate, get stressed, things don’t get done, and they take it out on their team. It’s not hard to imagine what that can do to productivity.

What do good managers look like?

• They give their employees space to have a sense of autonomy over their work. Staff like having choice and control over some elements of their workload, their environment and their schedule. It allows them to be more proactive and efficient. They will also have much more satisfaction in their work.

• They set realistic expectations and they check in with staff. Specific, clear and achievable goals help employees measure their success and know that they’re doing a good job. Following up on those objectives and regularly checking in with employees will also help boost productivity.

• They communicate clearly and regularly. This is a key area for managers to get right. If inconsistent and confusing messaging characterise the culture of your business, you’ve got a problem.

• They care about the happiness and well-being of their staff, both of which have been proven to increase productivity and profitability.

We could bang on all day about what makes a good manager. You need to make sure that you have something in place to develop and train staff in this area. Good managers are worth the investment many times over. Don’t know where to start? We can help you with that.

Stay out of the courtroom!

If you have done everything else on this list, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever have to worry about this. Litigation is something that you definitely want to avoid.

Employment tribunals are a nightmare for all concerned. It’s just a lose-lose, whatever the outcome. Since fees were abolished, tribunals have increased by 90%, which is going to be a concern for any business owner. Not only does litigation cost a bomb, but the repercussions of reputational damage can also go on and on. And that’s even if you win. Word of mouth counts for a lot.

For an employee to take a grievance to this stage, something has gone drastically wrong. If you get your HR house in order, you’ll have done everything you can to shield yourself. And this needs to be in place right from the recruitment stage.

So, this takes us full circle. How will you attract top talent if you have a reputation characterised by employee grievances?

It’s an indisputable fact that investing in your people will pay dividends in the future. We appreciate that not every business knows exactly where to start with this. If HR isn’t your thing, and you want to save yourself time, money and the inevitable countless headaches, we might just know someone who can help you out.