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The challenge of attracting and retaining talent in SMEs

Generating a good work environment, providing development opportunities, having a motivated team and offering flexibility are conditions highly valued by the new generations.

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Published by ConnectAmericas

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In all companies, talent is the foundation to building an ideal team that is capable of facing new challenges and ensure growth. That is why it is essential to have the best employees possible. For small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) having to compete with big firms with large budgets, better visibility and consolidated labels, at first, seems very difficult. The good news is that it is possible.

SMEs can make use of their smaller size, more flexible nature and closer contact with workers 

Trainee programs, performance bonuses, six-month wage increases, financing postgraduate studies, internships and training programs are some of the benefits that help attract new generations to big corporations. However, do not despair; SMEs can also make use of their smaller size, more flexible nature and closer contact with workers.

Before going into how to attract talent, first it is essential to understand what workers mostly value in a job. Currently, surveys such as “best places to work” reveal that money is no longer a decisive factor. The company’s success in the market, innovation, team unity, work environment and work-life balance are some of the variables that prospective employees take into account before making a decision.

This is why SMEs can generate strategies within their grasp to get a hold of good professionals. On the one hand, they possess more freedom to change or optimize their internal processes than multinational companies. On the other hand, since supervisors have fewer workers under their direction they get to know their aspirations and needs better in order to try to satisfy them.

In Chile, María Eugenia Miranda, founder and general manager of Alfa Consulting, affirms that company leaders must focus their labor supply on the life quality offered to employees. A flexible work schedule and work geared towards achievement of goals should be the starting point. Other non-monetary factors such as shorter work hours on Fridays, lunch time workouts or an extra week of vacation also play a role.

Another aspect that can also mark a big difference with larger companies is the possibility of making decisions and working independently. Employees- especially the younger ones – strive to be key players within their teams, which can be achieved easier in small groups where the structural organization is horizontal and it is possible to quickly acquire greater responsibilities.

Due to the lack of a human resources department it is generally the owner who takes on the task of attracting workers but that does not mean that the hiring process should be improvised. The first step in organizing this this process is to create a document containing the job description, including individual profile, objectives, scope and limits. It is necessary to define knowledge, capacity, experience and type of personality required for each vacant position. Once a talented worker is hired it is advisable to implement a way of retaining him or her. Below you will find five tips to put into practice at your company:

  1. Create a unified team: generate a good and attractive work environment and make that one of your biggest assets. Encourage a joint vision and have a diverse and efficient team, fostering the development of new ideas and collaboration.
  2. Propose projects that generate expectations: set out challenges that are not overly ambitious and that are fully realistic, which motivate and require effort. Emotional aspects should be considered upon assigning important missions that generate commitment.
  3. Commit to their development: professionals like to picture the horizon, know their possibilities of promotion and continue their professional development.
  4. Recognize their value to the company: make them feel that their presence is decisive in achieving objectives and recognize a job well done.
  5. Make your company a happy place: this increases motivation and productivity, retains talent, reduces absenteeism and generates more ideas.
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