In order for small and medium enterprise (SME) owners to grow their businesses, they will eventually need to increase their staff complement.
Industry Opinions

How to attract and retain quality staff

In order for small and medium enterprise (SME) owners to grow their businesses, they will eventually need to increase their staff complement.

However, if this process is not managed effectively, it can become a serious burden to the business owner.

This is according to Vincent Kiyingi, Country Manager at Business Partners Uganda, who emphasizes the importance of a good HR management system in a small business.

“Many small business owners often believe that they do not have the time or resources available to manage their company’s HR needs, and as a result, run into problems when hiring new staff or managing employees’ needs.”

First and foremost, business owners need to find the right talent, says Kiyingi. “While this is easier said than done, there are various measures that business owners can put in place to assist with the recruitment process.

“Start with a clear job description and advertise this brief on all relevant platforms that are available to the business. When interviewing potential candidates, it is important to pose the same questions to all interviewees so that an accurate comparison can be made.”

He adds that the HR process does not end once a staff member is appointed to a particular position.

“Business owners need to pay attention to employees’ needs on an ongoing basis. At least two formal performance reviews should take place annually – both to determine if the employer is happy with the level and quality of work being performed, and whether the employee is satisfied with his or her working conditions, job description and role, as well as training and development opportunities.”

In terms of retaining good staff, Kiyingi says that for many employees, reasons to stay in any particular job are not only limited to the amount of money deposited into their bank accounts at the end of each month.

“Staff need more than a monthly salary – they need to feel valued for their contribution to their company and its bottom line.”

He adds that this is where small businesses have the upper hand on larger organisations.

“While such organisations can perhaps offer larger salary packages, which appear more attractive, a small business can craft and implement its own unique employee value proposition, both with tangible and non-tangible aspects.”

Kiyingi further explains that tangible aspects typically entail monthly remuneration and bonuses. “Considerations when formulating the non-tangible aspects include the so-called ‘fringe benefits’ such as free parking, flexi-hours, training opportunities or the occasional lunch from the business.”

However, he notes that the biggest advantage that small businesses have is their ability to involve staff in a wider range of responsibilities, which is necessitated by the size of the business.

“In larger organisations, one finds that the ability to be exposed to a wider range of duties is limited, as work is compartmentalised. Another big selling point for small businesses is their smaller team size, which can create a welcoming environment and close-knit culture.”

Kiyingi concludes that ultimately, if SMEs want to attract and retain good staff they need to fully understand what is important to the business’s employees.

“Methods of retention can come in many forms, from professional and personal development, time off, reward and recognition, to pay and working hours.

“Ultimately, retaining quality employees requires that periodical discussions are held, whereby the focus is on the employee’s engagement levels and what is important to them.”