The SMEs guide to hiring well

South Africa’s SMEs are indispensable in driving economic growth and development across our nation. Given their smaller size, employees in SMEs typically work in hands-on, hybrid roles – collaborating closely with colleagues across various departments. It offers fertile ground for employees to develop vital skills and gain diverse experience.

Illustrations of a team of business people in a boardroom

However, SMEs in South Africa face significant hiring challenges. In growing firms, hiring tends to be reactionary, essentially filling skill gaps only when the need becomes critical. It puts unnecessary pressure on an organisation to find a candidate. Hiring is rushed, and candidates are chosen because they are ‘okay’ or ‘will do’ compared to the other applicants. 

In a market like South Africa, with strict labour regulations, reactionary hiring is not sustainable. Taking on the wrong people is an expensive mistake, especially considering that the true cost of recruitment is often vastly underestimated. In addition to any hiring fees, it also includes onboarding and training costs plus lost productivity during the settling-in period, which can last up to 12 months.

Don’t hire for the role. Hire the person

However, to scale a business, entrepreneurs need good people. The key is to adopt a proactive hiring stance and a robust hiring strategy that protects your business as far as possible. 

The first rule is to hire the person. Don’t hire for the role. This means always being open to adding new talent because you never know when the right person will cross your path. This mindset empowers businesses to anticipate staffing needs and move the best people into crucial roles. It also gives business owners the time and space to engage impressive candidates. Adding a new person can take months, so removing the pressure makes for a clearer, more concise hiring process.

Create a value proposition

A thorough value proposition is the bedrock of a good recruitment strategy. Ask yourself, why would talented people want to work for my business? This is your opportunity to really sell your business and the value you add for employees. Far from industry jargon, be realistic and honest. Talk about your company culture and opportunities for career progression. Include any additional perks, including flexible working arrangements, financial incentives, and other benefits that vary from the industry norm. The best talent has many options to choose from – this is your opportunity to convince them to work for you.

Robust recruitment at work

It is essential to hire according to a set recruitment process with actionable steps. This assures you are following the correct procedures to hire the right person for the right reasons. It also standardises operating procedures, which equips your business to scale.

The first step is identifying the benefits of a new hire. Ask yourself, do I really need this person? If the answer is yes, set your expectations via the following questions

  • What do I need the person to do?
  • Is the type of person I need available in South Africa?
  • What can I afford? This question pertains not just to the person’s salary but also to onboarding fees plus a six to 12-month lag before you see a return on investment.

The second step is creating a 360° view of the ideal candidate, commonly referred to as a ‘candidate avatar’. Who is this person? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What characteristics make them a good cultural fit? Where did they study? Where have they worked? What soft skills do they have? 

Thirdly, write a job advert that both promotes your company and sets very clear requirements and expectations to attract the right people. Touch on your company culture, working environment, and company values. Use your value proposition and candidate avatar to help shape your writing. 

Finally – and most importantly – put any potential candidates through a multi-level vetting and interview process to render your recruitment process as close to foolproof as possible. It goes without saying that the first step is checking references and verifying qualifications. Following that, conduct no less than three in-person and video interviews. Ask the candidate to complete reputable psychometric and skills testing exercises. And always trust your gut. If, at any point, something does not feel right, chances are it’s not. Cut your losses and start again. It is much easier to let down a candidate than to let go of an employee who’s not the right fit. 

Of course, business waits for no one. When your need for support is urgent, consider tapping into the gig economy and bringing on an external consultant for a few months to bridge any skill or capacity gaps.

Let us help you get it done

Adding new employees is costly but 100% manageable if the cost is spread over a number of months. Genfin’s flexible financing solutions empower your business to invest in great people without jeopardising cash flow. We don’t believe in hidden fees, fixed costs, or early settlement penalties. We believe in growth. With Genfin, you are always in safe hands.

Opportunity Bridge Loan

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