Middle-market businesses face several unique challenges in finding employees with the skills needed to help a company grow. Among those challenges: less name recognition than larger companies, smaller HR departments, rapid growth and less robust internal training programs.
The struggle to find talent is very real for mid-market companies. According to a recent survey from the National Center for the Middle Market, an average of 37 percent of middle-market executives say talent shortages limit their company’s growth. In healthcare, business services and construction, 44 percent to 49 percent say their growth is stymied by problems finding enough employees with the right skills.
Is your company struggling to find enough well-qualified employees? Here are seven ways to fix your company’s talent acquisition problem.
Everyone likes to help their friends, right? That’s why your current staff can be one of the best sources of new employees who will be a good fit for your company. Someone who already works for your company knows its strengths and weaknesses, and knows which of their friends and acquaintances are likely to be a good fit for your company’s culture.
Providing an extra cash incentive may provide the added motivation employees need to open up their contact list. To make an internal referral program successful, you’ll need to determine when the payment will be delivered and offer an amount that’s appropriate for the position to be filled.
A $100 referral bonus may be right for a coffee shop worker while $1,000 may be necessary to help you find an IT professional. You may stipulate that the bonus is paid immediately upon hire, or after the referred employee has been on the job three months.
If your company seeks a specific skill set, say engineering, accounting or information technology, local colleges may be a good source of new talent. Pick up the telephone and call the dean of the local college or trade school and ask to attend a job fair or otherwise be introduced to those soon-to-graduates.
Professors can be excellent talent scouts for young people who are both skilled and motivated to find a job and start paying off their college loans right away.
You can also join a local alumni group or get involved with your college’s fundraising efforts in order to network with potential candidates and fellow alums.
Particularly for professional and technical employees, an internship program can be an excellent way to identify young talent.
Resist the urge to operate a “loosey-goosey” internship. For this to be useful to your company and the candidate, you’ll need to devote some effort to finding meaningful work for the intern, as well as offer regular feedback.
Forget thinking of an intern program as the chance for free work. These days, paid internships are the norm.
Consult this article for tips on how to build a successful internship program.
Your best bet for finding new talent may be to tap into the workforce you already have. Let employees know that you’ll pay for the training and development courses they’ll need to move into more senior roles. Such investment helps build employee loyalty and job satisfaction.
While it may sound expensive to pay for college courses or technical certification programs, consider the business cost of failing to fill key positions.
Is your office manager still juggling payroll, office supplies, janitorial services and benefits administration? Many middle-market companies fail to grow their HR department along with the rest of the company.
If you’re consistently struggling to find new talent or losing potential hires to other companies that pay more or have better benefits, it may be time to devote more company resources to human resources.
A fully staffed HR department has the strategic capacity to get ahead of workforce needs through salary surveys, workforce planning, succession planning and other functions that can help you keep current employees happy and find new ones.
Community involvement can be key in supporting your company’s talent search, so join your local chamber of commerce or Rotary Club. After all, these organizations are dedicated to helping its members succeed by nurturing the local economy. A few networking breakfasts or lunches may be all that’s needed to get the word out that you’re expanding your staff.
You also should think beyond local non-profits. Depending on your company’s size, your national industry association may be a good source for talent referrals. State-level trade associations tend to be a smaller pond and may be even more useful in helping you find potential employees who are already familiar with your business or industry.
A robust communications program can help your company combat its talent shortage, especially for mid-market companies fighting with large companies for talent. A communications program doesn’t have to be costly but it will require some planning to be successful.
Internally, all that may be needed are regular emails from the CEO and a few job posters in break rooms. Your goal is to let ambitious, lower skilled employees know that career opportunities are available or that you’ve launched a new referral bonus program.
Externally, your company’s social media pages and website should highlight open positions, as well as the tangible and intangible benefits of working for your organization. You can also try any number of ways to raise your company’s visibility, from hiring a ghostwriter to pen industry articles to donating to local causes.
And keep in mind that professional buyers will often devote a significant portion of their due-diligence work to determining how well your talent pool is growing and expanding. Having a robust and active employee recruitment and development program will only help you as you negotiate with potential buyers of your business.
To learn more, read the full survey on talent shortages from the National Center for the Middle Market.
By Jessica Johns Pool.
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