Many growing businesses hit a watershed moment around 100 to 150 people, where scaling your workforce goes from fairly easy to feeling impossible.
You’re spending ever more time and money on recruitment but you’re struggling to hire the right people. And naturally there are people leaving too, so the business becomes a leaky bucket.
We spoke recently to Tony Walton – formerly Head of In-house Recruitment for Compass Group and now Managing Director of Talent Genius – alongside Tribepad’s technical consultant Hayley Reeves, to get their take.
They shared four reasons your recruitment might be stalling — along with practical ways to jumpstart and take your business to the next level.
4 small business recruitment challenges (and how to solve them)
Problem #1: application tumbleweed
When recruitment first starts to feel difficult, that’s often because you’ve exhausted word-of-mouth and referrals and need to advertise properly for the first time. And at that point, organisations often come unstuck.
You’ll often find your brand as an employer isn’t strong enough to attract talent. Certainly not in a competitive talent market where jobseekers are looking at lots of different roles.
That’s an especially big problem when you need critical people to continue to help the business evolve, but you can’t hire them.
Solve it: Shout about your employer brand
For the business to keep growing, you need to strengthen your employer brand. To attract jobseekers to apply to your jobs, over the other five, ten, or twenty other positions they’re considering. Why you?
If you have bandwidth, now could be a great time to define and develop your employee value proposition. This bigger piece of strategic work is a fantastic foundation for building and growing your tribe.
But sometimes that’s not realistic, especially if you only have one or two people working on recruitment (or fewer!)
In that case, you can still strengthen your brand with a few simple tweaks. Check out this webinar from Hung Lee talking about employer branding for small businesses for some ideas.
One super simple thing you can do is look at the great stuff your business is already doing, then make sure you (or your marketing team) are promoting it.
- Share photos of onboarding swag
- Welcome new starters publicly
- Encourage employees to post pics from company events
- Share praise and recognition when your people excel
Your organisation probably has way more marketing resources (time, budget, people) than HR, so getting your marketers involved with employer branding helps you get more done. Could you create a process for sharing content from HR to marketing, so they can create and promote employer branding resources?
Stick at it though. Social media typically takes three to six months of regularly creating (value-add, not just jobs) content to build an audience, and become a meaningful recruitment channel.
Problem #2: losing great candidates
What if you’re getting plenty of people applying for your roles, but they accept offers elsewhere? This is a super common problem for growing organisations, because recruitment demand usually scales before recruitment resource does.
When that happens, the recruitment function doesn’t have the strategy, technology, people, or process to hire efficiently – so time-to-hire suffers. The problem is, today’s recruitment market is candidate-driven. AKA: the balance of power sits with candidates, who are often juggling multiple job offers.
If you take too long, you’ll take yourself off the table.
Sure, sometimes another role is genuinely a better fit for someone. You can’t do much about that. And don’t want to, really, or you’ll wind up with high turnover. But often, a candidate would’ve been a great fit for you, and vice versa. But you ruled yourself out because you were too slow. You snooze you lose.
Solve it: hire faster
In today’s recruitment landscape, you need to make job offers within two to three weeks. Do you have the right people, processes, and technology to recruit that fast?
You might run all your recruitment right now through spreadsheets – and below a certain size, spreadsheets can work well. But eventually, they become a bottleneck.
How much time do you spend on repetitive manual work and admin? On collecting and checking compliance documentation? How much time spent recruiting is actually recruiting, versus administrating and chasing?
If those are pains, it might be time to research recruitment software designed for growing businesses like yours and build a business case for investment. If you’re hiring more than about 50 people a year, that’s usually a good point to systematise.
Problem #3: poor hiring manager practice
As organisations start to scale past 100 towards, say, 1000 people, hiring manager practice becomes an increasingly enormous issue. You lose control over recruitment and hiring managers are the ultimate gatekeepers for who comes into the business.
You might face several issues:
- Managers contributing to an unfair process
- Managers not doing a great job of selling your brand
- Managers being slow or inconsistent
Those things can mean you hire the wrong people, or you don’t hire the right people. Neither are good for growth.
Solve it: educate and engage managers
Managers are make-or-break for hiring success as you scale. To make sure your managers are an asset not a liability, they’ll need training about what the recruitment process should (and shouldn’t) look like.
There’s also a big engagement piece here. Managers are often disengaged and disgruntled by recruitment, especially if they’ve never had a set process before. They’re also busy, so anything that’s seen to add to their plate won’t go down a storm.
(Ultimately, that’s another big reason you might decide to consider recruitment software – it makes managers lives a whole lot easier.)
Recruiters need to build trust with managers, with great communication and consultative listening skills. Here’s ten things managers typically dislike about recruiters, to get you in the mood.
Problem #4: high early turnover
Tony’s analysis shows that most growing businesses are spending somewhere between £12,000 and £20,000 per hire. So it’s a big kick in the teeth if your newest recruit leaves before they start adding value.
But that’s pretty common. Depending who you listen to and your industry, 90-day turnover sits anywhere from 10% to 50%.
That throws you into a hire-rehire cycle where you’re haemorrhaging time and money on recruitment but the business isn’t growing. In fact, often you’re shrinking, because turnover begets turnover.
Solve it: improve onboarding
Onboarding is often the missing puzzle piece for growing organisations. In many cases, you’ve invested in building your brand, you’ve started to invest in the systems and processes to reliably bring better people into the business… and then, nothing.
New hires have a great recruitment experience and then the second they sign the contract, they’re forgotten about. And eventually, they leave because the job doesn’t meet expectations.
Onboarding isn’t just about compliance. Think about how you’re welcoming your newest people into the business.
- Do they have everything they need?
- Do they feel valued and excited?
- Are you setting them up for success?
- Is the transition from candidate to employee seamless?
Have you built the foundations for growth?
In every growing organisation’s life, there’s a point where recruitment needs to shift gear. You can’t just do more of what you always did. What worked to get you from 10 to 100 people won’t work from 100 to 1000, or 1000 to 10,000.
Sometimes, that takes a real mindset shift. Recruitment is as critical as any formative business function. Without the right people, the business can’t deliver on its revenue goals. And without the right strategy, systems, people, and processes, recruitment can’t deliver the right people.
If your organisation has serious growth ambitions, are you investing in the right places to meet them?
Tribepad Gro is ready built, ready-to-go recruitment software for growing teams. Take your recruitment to the next level.