More than 61 million people are employed by small businesses, representing almost half of the total United States workforce. Small-business owners often struggle to properly staff their companies, and they face several unique challenges that larger corporations and nonprofits don't have to deal with. For example, a small business might not have a dedicated human resources staff or hiring manager. They might also not have formal hiring procedures. Replacing an employee can cost a business between 30% and 150% of the departing employee's annual wages. Hiring and keeping the best possible employees is key for a small business to succeed, and by establishing good hiring and retention practices, businesses can improve their bottom line.
Creating a Hiring Plan
Every business needs a hiring plan, which should be part of the business's larger strategic plan. Businesses must know what employees they need, what the job responsibilities will be, and how much compensation the business can offer. Next, the company should set a hiring budget to cover advertising the job and any travel expenses that may be needed. Finally, it's time to craft a timeline that states how long the job will be advertised, how long the company will collect applications, when the interviews will take place, and when they want the new employee to start work.
Employers should target their search to advertise where candidates who are qualified for the job they are offering tend to look, but they also should plan on using multiple different resources. Job boards are an obvious place to start gathering applications from interested candidates. Social networks, particularly business-focused networks like LinkedIn, are also a great place to find good candidates. Reaching out to alumni career offices at universities can also end up turning up great candidates. Some businesses chose to hire recruiters for particularly crucial job openings.
The Interview Process
Most businesses choose to interview candidates multiple times before offering anyone a job. The first interview is often conducted over the phone by the person managing the hiring process for this position. In larger companies, human resources often handles the phone screening interview. Candidates chosen to move forward are then interviewed in person or in a video call. Often, a panel interview is conducted in which the candidate is interviewed by multiple people who will work with them daily.
Choosing the Best Candidate
It's easy to get attached to one candidate during the hiring process, but ensuring that the right candidate is being chosen requires applying the same standards to all candidates who have made it this far in the hiring process. The first step is vetting the candidates' histories and checking their references. Next, it's important to consider what career path the candidate wants and how that lines up with what the company expects from someone holding this position. Think about how the candidate will fit into the larger culture of the company. Soft skills are just as important as concrete skills in most jobs.
Sending an Offer Letter and Welcoming New Staff
A small business that has spent money and time on the hiring process will want to make sure that its investment pays off. One reason why it's important to have a hiring timeline and share that with candidates is that candidates are often applying and interviewing with multiple businesses, but if they know when your offer might come, they may be willing to hold out for your position rather than taking a job with another business. A job offer letter sent to the chosen candidate should be absolutely clear about the job title, start date, employment status (full-time, part-time, or contract), office address, name of the position's immediate supervisor, and duties and responsibilities. There also should be a deadline for the candidate's response, as the company will need to move on if the first candidate doesn't respond or rejects the offer. Companies also need to make an onboarding plan for the new employee's first weeks. There are few things more miserable than spending the first days at a new job floundering because the company wasn't prepared to get the new employee started in their position.
Incentives and Benefits
Keeping valuable employees is key to any successful business. One way companies can do this is by offering incentives and benefits that employees care about. Financial incentives are always welcomed by employees, but employee recognition also helps improves job satisfaction ratings. Professional development opportunities are also valued by most employees. Good benefits, including health insurance, are also a great way to retain employees.