Our business celebrates 30 successful years this year. I’ve been part of the team for 15 years and another colleague 13. People always seem to be impressed with that, but the reason I am here, and now the company MD, is because I’ve been supported with my development every step of the way! Now it’s my turn to develop our team to be the leaders of the business for the future.
Businesses have been finding it increasingly more difficult to recruit, and when you work in a small business, it can be hard to discover new talent or “grow your own talent” with the idea of producing a future leader for your business. Our perm consultant Sophie joined us two years ago after registering with us when looking for a move from the interior design industry where she has started working since leaving University. She just had the right attitude, energy, and enthusiasm to fit perfectly into our team and learn “on the job” as such. We also recruited our very first apprentice last year; a fabulous experience for all of us and we are delighted to say that Loren has now accepted a permanent position with us.
Employing an apprentice isn’t an option for everyone and your business may not yet be at the stage of expanding its workforce. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t get there, and being influential in other ways and helping develop our future leaders and possibly your future clients can lead to finding people that will ultimately help to grow your business, whether that’s through directly employing someone, or not. Sometimes those people are not always in the places you expect them to be.
Supporting a local school or college.
I’ve recently taken on a new role as a Volunteer Enterprise Adviser. The purpose of the National Enterprise Adviser Network is to “create strong and lasting connections between local businesses and schools/colleges to help further develop and support careers and enterprise activities”.
Teachers don’t necessarily make good careers advisors. Getting involved in a project like this not only identifies candidates that could ultimately join your business but gives you a great opportunity to help shape the career choices of young people, giving them a realistic idea of the job opportunities in the area. The students need to know about the real world and what really happens in business, and by sharing your experience, ideas, and own aspirations you create inspired young people who are more focused and knowledgeable about what it’s really going to be like when they leave education and move into the world of work.
One of the businesses we support with their recruitment is involved with the local technical college to help shape their future engineering courses and provide hands-on support and work experience opportunities for the students within their industry. When the times comes, they will have helped create their potential future workforce and will be able to fill the roles they currently struggle to fill with virtually the perfect candidate!
Many 6th form schools and colleges run careers days. Yes, this can mean a day out of the workplace, but these are free opportunities to get your name out there and talk about your business as well as getting to meet your potential future employees, their teachers and their parents – who are potential customers of your business.
Many schools and college run mock interview sessions which involve a group of employers spending a morning interviewing students and then feeding back on their performance with advice and tips to help them improve. Again, another great networking opportunity and a chance to spot potential new talent! We found Loren, our Apprentice, following an interview morning at the local college, working with the Business Studies students.
Having a young person with no real work experience arrive to spend a week with you can seem like an interruption and possibly a hindrance when it comes to running your business. The secret is to plan ahead, be flexible and really well organised, making sure the tasks you give the person are relevant and challenging. The young person needs to be supervised and you need to make clear what is expected of them, reviewing and feeding back on their performance. The rest of your staff can be involved in this process so it doesn’t all have to be down to you. There’s no question that it will take up time, but it’s a great way not only to give the young person an opportunity to think about their career goals and realise what behaviours are expected within a workplace but also for your existing staff to get involved and take on the responsibility of managing a young person.
Site Visit Days
If a week seems too long, how about inviting a group of teachers and students to a site visit, spending the day looking at what your business does and meeting the workforce. This works really well if there is some type of practical activity going on such as in a workshop or studio.
Recruit an Apprentice
As I mentioned earlier, Loren joined us last year as our apprentice. She was a real breath of fresh air, bringing enthusiasm and a fantastic work ethic with her. Yes, the first few months meant devoting time and energy to her training and supporting her with her NVQ, but the results and rewards have far outweighed the cost of our time. Having an apprentice really makes you look at how your business runs and the processes and procedures your work to. It’s been invaluable to have Loren’s opinion and input into all aspects of the business, and it's helped refocused us in some areas, ensuring we have changed or adapted things where appropriate.
If cost is an issue, remember that that grants can be available and as I say – it’s been worth the investment to now have a new member of our team who we hope will continue to grow and develop and become a leader of the future!
It takes time but it's worth it
As with all of the above, training a new member of staff requires time and energy but by working with young people ahead of the start of their career, the benefits and rewards to your business could far outweigh the time you spend nurturing and making a difference to the development of your potential future workforce.
Lynne is Managing Director of Personnel Placements and has been recruiting in Salisbury and the surrounding area for over 15 years. PP as it is affectionately known within the local business community is a generalist Agency that has been supporting local companies with their recruitment and HR for over 30 years. They are also an active member of TEAM – The Employment Agents Movement – which enables them to source candidates from all over the UK.