Clare Parkes, principal, Clarion Human Resources, on recruitment for SMEs who want to use corporate-style HR policies.

At its core, recruitment is the same for corporates and SMEs, it's the rigour and aligning the stars that's the tricky bit. Because of resources available, it is often misconstrued that corporates have a greater ability to attract the best talent in the market. However, with both undertaking the same process, SMEs can have as much success by applying the same thinking to each step along the way. Whilst some talent might be out of reach due to their aspirations, if you are creative enough, there is the opportunity to convert them to an advocate of the smaller enterprise.

Defining the job

The process is simple and the rigour should increase as you go from stage to stage:
Unfortunately, most SME's spend around 80 per cent of their time on the selection phase, and not enough time on making sure they have defined the job well and sourced from the right pool of talent.

It's a bit like when a business invests in an asset, for example, machinery, plant, property, the definition of the need is critical to ensure that the right asset can be sourced. Once the specification has been laid out, the rest of the process can be simple: you explore the market for options, you visit reference sites, you see the asset in play, you review costs against a return on investment, you gain a clear understanding of the true capabilities, and you ensure the transition process and ongoing maintenance have your full attention. This way you will have a better chance of realising the return.


Finding the best talent

• Define your needs, but flex your muscles.

In The Great New Zealand Employment Survey 2012, employers suggested that 'fit' was the most important consideration when selecting a candidate. In order to understand if there is a match, you need to define what characteristics 'fit' in your business. Be it casual/formal, quiet/loud, considered/flamboyant etc. Allow for differences within reason however, that way your business will continue to grow and develop - without challenge, you will never achieve change.

• Be creative, show your true colours and think about your audience.

Your audience might not be the group that immediately comes to mind. You might find a budding logistics manager from the events industry, a star operations manager from within a group of IT professionals. Seek out the absolute necessities, and not necessarily from the traditional pool of labour you've relied on in the past.

• Understand what will make them successful and engage them quickly.

Connection, progression and recognition are key for employees when seeking out a place to work. So, as well as providing them with the tools to do their job, the parameters by which they can operate (authority, policies and KPIs), and the support they need to transition, it's just as important to provide them with the opportunity to connect with the culture and their colleagues. To have them understand how they can contribute to the future of the business, and feel like they can make a difference.

HR challenges as your business grows


As businesses move from a small to medium sized enterprise, there are additional challenges; not least of which is ensuring the 'fit' is retained in securing the right people. The other most often experienced challenge is on-boarding staff. The challenges here are:

• Consistency: making sure all staff have the same experience, and it reflects what has been promised as part of the process

• Time: allowing enough time for the process to take place, but also for them to absorb the information and for your expectations to be achieved; remember, Rome wasn't built in a day!

• Effectiveness: how can you make sure they will 'make it through'? Make the information and training relevant to their job, give them a goal that they can achieve quickly, and connect regularly.

• Control: as you grow, the control of this process will probably be shared amongst others; if this starts to happen, make sure those who support the process are given the right tools to do it justice; then give it up - it needs to evolve.

Next week we hear from NZ's SMEs involved in manufacturing. What are your challenges and achievements, what are the benefits of manufacturing in NZ? Email me, Gill South, at the link below: