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Small businesses and large organisations can definitely learn from one another when reviewing their talent pool. talent-badgeHow do you go about retaining it and keeping everyone engaged along the way? And how do small businesses manage it without large budgets and HR teams in place to make it happen?

In a small organisation, the accessibility colleagues share with management is often rarely achieved when there are many levels of hierarchy in a larger business. Smaller business can use this strategically to give them a competitive edge as having a pool of talent working in close proximity to management helps culture a better understanding of where the business is going, and where it wants to be in the coming years. In turn, this develops a strong sense of engagement and allows small business leaders to gauge when and if engagement levels drop.

A clear vision

While the accessibility colleagues and management share at SME’s is a great opportunity, this competitive edge can be lost if not harnessed in the right way and it can be difficult to engage your taskforce if there is a not a clear vision for individuals to work with. If you have a group of colleagues on-board with a company ethos, they are more likely to develop within the framework of that ‘philosophy’ and operate as better brand ambassadors for their respective employer. By acknowledging differences within the workforce, and becoming familiar with personalities, management can nurture talent to help create a more agile team that understand their role, and how it fits within the rest of an operation. Familiarity can breed a type of ‘brand DNA’ that flows through the entire business structure with everyone working collectively towards the same goal – an invaluable asset to have when you work with limited resources. The question is how this potential can be realised.

Immediate engagement

One company where talent is honed and managed right from the outset so the rising stars can be identified is Building Transformation, a Bedford-based ‘urban skins’ specialist. Their philosophy centres around protecting 21st century façade’s and urban landscapes. They have an ethos of fundamentally changing the way in which façades are regarded to enable companies who own and manage buildings to understand the creative possibilities façades can have for cities. The business embraces innovation, and aims to place its values firmly at the forefront of everyone’s minds; customers and employees. They make a point of communicating with new starters immediately via indoor skydiving sessions to test their mettle against gravity and give them a new perspective on what their role could be.

“It’s critical to make that ever important first day as memorable as possible, all for the right reasons… commented Emma Walden, brand compliance manager at Building Transformation. By providing new colleagues with such different experience we firmly establish Building Transformation as a company with something unique to offer and engage them in what we’re trying to achieve as a business.

The strategy works for Building Transformation as the company continues to grow and develop with a high employee retention rate. “It’s our goal to feel that a company brand and philosophy is an everyday part of what we do, rather than a logo or quote that is on a board, or in a book somewhere and not lived and breathed by the employee.” Added Reece Wood, founder, Business Transformation.

Keeping who you’ve got

For Business Moves Group (BMG), a commercial relocation company, engaging talent is a matter of communicating the importance of each individual within a large collective operation. With a national portfolio of clients, BMG have expert knowledge on how to move businesses successfully, but as Rachel Walton, managing director of BMG, points out, none of this is possible without staff that are happy to develop their own individual role in the sometimes complex process of commercial relocation.

“The nature of our industry means you have to be on top of your game, both physically and mentally. We move a lot of businesses but we find our staff like to stay put. To grow successfully and keep motivation high, we knew that we had to keep experienced and loyal employees at the company, and by doing so, we had a better business offering to the marketplace. Our staff have seen a lot of the management team rise up the ranks, myself included and we’d like to continue that pattern. There is a concentrated effort in looking for internal opportunities to fulfil a wide number of skill sets from accounts, project mangers, CAD designers and sales people to keep them challenged by offering them different and exciting opportunities.”

So, with the small business growth trend moving in the right direction with total employment in SMEs at 15.6 million and contributing to 60% of all private sector employment in the UK according to the FSB, small business owners need to stay ahead of their game in retention and engagement of staff. Make retention and engagement the new normal.