Do you need to recruit?

Who you recruit can be one of the most important decisions that you make as a small business owner.  In the first of a series of articles designed to help small businesses with their recruitment strategies and processes, Keeping HR Simple’s Katherine Connolly looks at the reasons why businesses need to recruit in the first place.

Here’s some facts

According to a recent Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) survey, 63% of small businesses are planning to keep their employment levels on hold over the next 3 months because they feel the economy is just too fragile.  Small businesses are often referred to as “the job creators of the UK” so you’d be forgiven for wondering what’s the point in learning how to recruit the best person for the non-existent job.  The point is this – 37% of small businesses are planning to recruit over the next 3 months and if you’re one of them, you’ll want to know exactly how to maximise the opportunities presented by your need to recruit.  Getting the right person is only part of the story.  Even if you’re one of the more cautious 63%, this information is still relevant to you – unless you’re never going to recruit, of course!

Two reasons why companies recruit

There are generally two reasons why companies recruit.  The first is because one or more of the members of the team decide to leave.  The second is because work picks up or requirements change and that means a new skill set or an additional pair of hands is required.

When someone is leaving

Let’s look at the first scenario.  If someone is leaving the company, you need to establish their reasons for leaving.  It needn’t be as formal as an exit interview but you do need to understand why they are going.  It may be for personal reasons which have nothing to do with your business.  However, it may just be that things have changed within the job itself – things you may not even be aware of.  If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.  Oh, and try not to take it personally.  They are leaving the company, not you.

Once you know why the person is leaving, it’s time to ask some more questions.  Do you need to replace them should be the first question to ask yourself.  It may be that someone else within your team could do the job and in fact, is dying to do the job!  That way, you’d keep their experience and expertise instead of risking them deciding to leave too because you’ve given their “dream job” to someone from outside the company.  It’s true that employees can often assume their employers will know all about their hopes and dreams for the future without being told.  However, simply by asking questions, you can find out exactly what they’d like to be doing and that may be filling that vacant post!

Assuming that no one wants to apply for the role internally, you can still save yourself some serious recruitment costs by implementing a staff referral scheme.  Your employees all know people and, with a little bit of incentive, they could be recommending your company to the very people you want to hire!  It doesn’t have to be huge sums of money, in fact, it doesn’t have to be money at all.  Find out what reward your staff would like in return for recommending a new recruit and implement a simple referral scheme accordingly.

Increasing workload

In the second scenario, workload has increased which means that your business needs a new skill set or indeed simply another pair of hands to cope with the additional work.  Again, look inside your business first.  Encouraging an existing member of staff to improve their skill set by arranging training for them will do wonders for their career development, make them more inclined to stay with you over the longer term and will fill that skills gap as well.  The staff referral scheme could also work well by incentivising your employees to recommend a friend or acquaintance with exactly the skill set you need.

Next steps

Once you’ve exhausted these options, it’s time to start recruiting externally.  Before you do, you need to go back to asking questions to establish the exact requirements for the job in question.

Next week: telling it like it is – writing the job analysis, job description and person specification.

Visit our website for more information and a free guide on employing people.


About the author: Katherine Connolly  is the founder of Keeping HR Simple ( and is on a mission to simplify HR policies and procedures for small business owners everywhere.  Katherine doesn’t believe that HR has to be complicated and expensive and aims to help small businesses to implement straightforward HR which not only protects them but helps them to develop their staff and make them the best employers they can possibly be.

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