Report: Addressing Hiring Challenges for Small Businesses

Two people engaging in interview

One of the advantages of small businesses is that they can be swift and agile, making it possible for them to respond to changes in the market quicker than larger corporations. Working for a small business also offers other benefits. Employees have the opportunity to take on more responsibilities, get to know the majority of their colleagues personally and see the nuts and bolts of a business up close. But small businesses also face challenges.

With unemployment at record lows, recruitment in the current environment is a challenge for employers of all sizes. However, according to our recent survey of 1006 decision makers in companies with fewer than ten employees in the UK, the vast majority of Britain’s small business owners feel it is harder for them to hire staff than it is for bigger companies.

Let’s take a look at the results—and how small businesses can respond.

The battle for talent

According to our survey, 81% of bosses at small businesses — those with fewer than ten employees — believe recruitment is more difficult for them than it is for their larger, more established rivals.

A third of our respondents (34%) say they struggle to find suitable candidates for roles, with nearly half (42%) feeling frustrated if it takes them longer than a month to fill a vacancy.

Perception: a key challenge in hiring

Table - difficulties in hiring for small businesses

However, they are not alone in this challenge. Even successful, fast-growing firms with a higher headcount can find recruitment tough.

So what lies behind this?

Three in five (59%) respondents cite a perceived lack of job security as the principal reason they struggle to attract applicants, while half (49%) think it is due to their lack of name recognition when pitted against bigger, better-known brands.

Other reasons for hiring difficulties include candidates’ perception that small firms offer fewer opportunities for career progression than larger ones (43%), an inability to offer the same perks as larger companies (42%), assumptions that salaries will be lower (26%) and a relative lack of prestige (18%).

Bringing out the best that small businesses have to offer

Clearly, many small businesses feel the odds are stacked against them in the battle for talent. While larger firms will always have a head start in terms of brand recognition, anxieties about smaller companies offering less job security or fewer prospects for career progression are also taking their toll.

The good news is that smaller employers can take steps to address candidate concerns right through the hiring process. This includes writing effective job ads that are well structured, including appealing job titles and accurately outlining the roles and responsibilities.

It also means effectively showcasing their company culture whether that be through social media, video, blogs and third-party sites such as Indeed Company Pages. These channels offer an opportunity to communicate and advertise the unique aspects of the company—which might include the office design and setup, employee backgrounds,  team traditions and off-site activities amongst other things.

Lastly, be sure to spotlight the benefits that working in a smaller company can offer employees, including

  • Being a part of a close-knit team. Every project, decision and action requires everybody to work together. Employees at small businesses get to know their fellow co-workers and the “C-suite” on a personal level.
  • A greater sense of autonomy. Small businesses are great for workers who love to roll up their sleeves and take ownership of tasks, allowing them to diversify their skill set by participating in a variety of projects.
  • Flexible working environment. Many small businesses allow employees to work flexibly, customising their working week to support both business goals and personal needs/preferences.

Hiring for small businesses doesn’t need to be a frustrating process.  Take these steps and you’ll be significantly closer to finding the ideal employees to help your company grow.

Report notes:

Researchers interviewed 1,006 decision makers in companies with fewer than ten employees in the UK. The research was carried out by Censuswide on behalf of Indeed in May 2018. UK employment figures referenced are from the ONS’s labour market statistics for May 2018

*Redshift Research on behalf of Indeed