Archive for May, 2013

Methods of recruiting – how do you select staff?

The information in this article came from comments at a Business Exposure Group meeting

Recruitment is a two way process for both parties – the employer and the candidate.

So that they can make good decisions, selection becomes a matter of matching and fitting individuals to a business in which they can thrive.

In terms of the application process, there are various processes applicants can go through including:

–          Interviews

Structured interviews – Some questions with a predetermined marking scheme.  Panel interviews can also be useful.

–          Application forms

–          References

–          CVs

–          Personality tests

But these must be able evaluated correctly.

–          Literacy and numeracy tests

–          Aptitude tests

Also, look at physical and mental ability:

–     Assessment centres – (used by 30% of businesses we spoke to)

–          Tests to simulate work such as an in tray exercise, putting the candidate under real life business pressure

–          Group problem solving

–          Presentations on related topics

–          Role plays

–          Writing reports

In times of recession recruitment and selection tends to be about filtering of large numbers of candidates.  In times of prosperity, it is a marketing exercise, hunting out good applicants.  Online applications are there to sift out the volume, and make the selection process manageable.

Most employers recruit for attitude and train for skills.  However the reality of today’s market often points to poor recruitment practices damaging brand and bottom line.  Many candidates are left with a negative view of a business following an unsuccessful job application.

For example, figures from Personnel Today show that 28% of candidates have an experience so bad that it had stopped them doing business in the future with the company as a result.

Some examples of poor recruitment practices:

46% weren’t told they had been unsuccessful

39% said they had a lack of feedback – both of these are because companies receive too many applications which a small business cannot handle.

So think your business could lose significant income over the lifetime of a disgruntled candidate. Therefore treat people in the same way that you would wish to be treated.

And what about the young?  A radical shift is needed in the way young people are viewed by employers as young people are frequently under employed.

– 1 in 5 want to work more hours, but never get the opportunity and

– 1 in 4 employers actually offer ‘work experience’ to young people, with the majority being left on their own without direction.

Contemporary businesses need to embrace some fairly sophisticated ways of selecting talented employees.  No longer should you rely on interview gut feeling.  An experienced interviewee will have all the right answers, so you should dig deeper to get past the interview veneer.

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Employee benefits – how important are they?

Benefits are a delicate balancing act for employers, ensuring employee well being versus cost control.

There is a need for businesses to focus on benefits that support a high performance culture as employees who aren’t worried about hospital bills or affording to retire are more focused on their jobs and productive.

Many small business owners mistakenly believe they cannot afford to offer benefits, and perhaps you should value benefits as an investment rather than a cost.

Employee benefits include:

–          pensions

–          life insurance

–          private medical

–          health screening

–          gym membership

–          eye sight testing

–          income protectors

–          critical illness

–          dental plans

–          personal accident insurance.

Soft perks like gym membership are valued least by employees yet employers communicate most about them.  Some commentators state that health benefits are nearly as important as salary in determining staff feelings of loyalty.

An individual is three times more likely to be ill for six months plus, than to die during their working life. So why give critical illness?

So what is the best way to communicate benefits to employees?  Here are some tips:

–          The most common method is via new joiner packs, but this is not always the right timing – on that date they have too many other things to consider

–          Core financial and health benefits are hardly ever discussed and not on a regular basis

–          Have a periodic benefits review

–          Should employees contribute and should the benefits cover the family?

–          You should tell employees what their benefits cost – staff have a mis-conception

–          A workforce of young single people do need life assurance – do a survey to find out what they want, and tailor your package.

–          A big mistake is to exclude some employees, which makes them feel less valued, and creates problems.

Employees look to their work place benefits to help them establish financial security.

So when attracting new starters, don’t tell the applicants that no benefits are offered as this may deter the best candidates.

Implement some basic benefits as a good starting point, because retention of quality staff will be key as the economy improves.

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Business round table looks at ‘anywhere working’ and asks, does it work?

UK businesses are increasingly trusting their staff and empowering them by allowing them to work anywhere, meaning that work is no longer a place we go to, but an activity we do.

Anywhere working was one of the topics for discussion at a meeting held by the Business Exposure Group.  It looked at how the office in the future will be a place for occasional use, and sparked some interesting comments.

One attendee, Simon Thornton, commented: “When you consider that employees spend 200 hours a year travelling to and from work, this could be an extra five weeks’ productivity from an employee, if they didn’t have to commute.

“Not only would this make an employee happier and more engaged because they haven’t been sat in traffic, this also alleviates the need for extra staff.”

With employees preferring to commute just 20 minutes from home, remote working doesn’t just mean operating from home, it could be operating at a customer or supplier site.  With video conferencing being widely and easily available now, businesses can cut out business travel and give an employee a better work/life balance.

Bruce Gilchrist, who attended the event said: “There are a number of measures that companies can put into place to make sure that anywhere working works for them, such as ensuring that remote employees spend some time, for example a day a week, in the office to build rapport and interaction.  Businesses can also have back up laptops that can be deployed, so that no one can say that they can’t work because their laptop isn’t working”

However a lot of businesses remain skeptical about remote working.  71% have not adopted anywhere working or citing the fear of isolation and the need to be seen in the office.

David Barraclough who also attended said: “Business remains a human enterprise.  For an owner, seeing operations up close and in person are critical to success.”

If you are a Director or business owner and would like to attend one of their informative round-table discussions, please contact

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