Entrepreneurship 101: Hiring the Right Staff

Lesson 6: Hiring the Right Staff

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Hiring the Right Staff

Employees make up the backbone of every business. Whether you decide to keep your team small or eventually scale up, how well you work with each of your staff—and how well they work together—are both directly tied to the company achieving its goalsNo business can succeed without dedicated people!

Why is careful hiring so crucial?

  • Your first hires can help you to build a solid support system, which in turn leads to greater productivity and performance.
  • Selecting talented teammates from the get-go cuts down on the need to retrain staff, since this can be costly and time-consuming.
  • And as you start working together, you can brainstorm ways to strengthen the company culture, or what the shared norms and values of the business will be. This is a key step as you continue to expand.

As mentioned in the previous lesson, your staff are your human resources. Their skills and attitudes will play a role in whether or not your day-to-day operations run smoothly. 

Hiring family members or friends is a common practice among small businesses and startups—but proceed with caution. How will working with them on a day-to-day basis change your relationship? How will this in turn affect the rest of the staff? Be sure to weigh these factors as you round out your team.

How do you kickstart the hiring process?

  • The first thing you should think about is the number of tasks you need help with on a regular basis. What does each role call for? Is this a part-time or full-time position? Outlining the hours and responsibilities will help you to identify strong candidates.
  • As you draft an application form, think about the minimum qualifications an employee should have. You can find application questions and a sample template here.
  • Include a shortened version of this information in your job listings. If you are hiring locally, you can hang printed fliers in high-traffic areas like the library, coffee shops, or grocery stores. Just be sure to ask for the manager’s permission!
  • You can also advertise through social networking sites, including LinkedIn and Facebook, or through job posting sites, like Indeed and CareerBuilder.

What should you look for during an interview?

As you prepare for the interview process, think about what skills your team members need in order to perform their tasks. Consider the following:

  • Are they a good fit? You want to hire staff who identify with the company’s values. Since employees reflect the brand, they need to understand your product or service's value and your mission.
  • Are they reliable? When you speak to their references or former employers, check to see if the candidate seems trustworthy and punctual. Dependability is key in building that solid support system.
  • Are they skilled at problem solving? This shows that they can make good choices. Provide an example of an issue they might run into at work. Ask them: what would you do in this scenario?

No business is immune to employees leaving, whether it’s for personal or professional reasons. But once you have assembled your team, you should work hard to retain them. Having too many staff quit within a short period of time will have a negative impact on your business.

How can you encourage your employees to stay?

  • Provide fair pay. Not being paid enough is one of the most common complaints among employees of small businesses and startups. Consider offering strong candidates a higher salary than your competitors.
  • Draw up clear contracts. Communicate staff’s daily responsibilities both verbally and in writing, as well as their salary and benefits. You can find an example of a basic contract here. This ensures that employees understand what’s expected of them, and what they will receive in return.
  • Create a pleasant environment. A comfortable workspace will make your team feel at home. Is there any broken equipment that needs to be fixed? Should you buy a microwave or a coffee maker for the breakroom?
  •  Give credit where credit’s due. Surprise your employees with shout-outs during team meetings, or even small rewards. Promotions and raises are good ways to promote loyalty and hard work.
  • Avoid micromanaging. While it’s essential for your staff to be productive, you don’t need to oversee the smaller aspects of their daily routine. Being too controlling could lead to them feeling stressed out!

Besides providing the standard benefits for full-timers, like health insurance, many companies are now offering “bonus perks” to boost their staff’s overall satisfaction with their job.   

What types of bonus perks can you offer?

  • Flextime and virtual work. These options reflect that you trust your staff. Can an employee come in early so that he can pick up his daughter after soccer practice? Are there tasks that can be completed from home or online?
  • Family support. To show that you care about your employees, consider offering parental leave, vacation time, or family discounts. As your company expands, you can host events that spouses and kids can attend, like holiday parties.
  • Professional development. Professional development provides opportunities to gain new skills. Mixing things up with the occasional fun workshop or activity will also give your team a break from the daily grind.

Offering these kinds of perks can help keep your team motivated. Ultimately, encouraging your employees to stay with the company will increase your competitive edge in the long run.

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