Cyril Parsons of Office Principles gives BQ his thoughts on how high grow small businesses should be operating to attract the right workforce, and keep them.
Joint managing director and co-founder of design and workplace consultancy, Office Principles, Cyril Parsons notes that for high growth small businesses (HGSBs) to continue to flourish, and drive increased productivity, they need to address recruitment and retention issues, starting by considering the office as a valuable point of engagement…
We know that HGSBs are of huge value to the UK economy, creating a significant percentage of jobs, year-on-year, and driving a wealth of new employment opportunities. These businesses are believed to deliver an additional two months of economic output every year, compared to the average UK business, with SMEs registering a combined annual turnover of £1.9 trillion last year.
There is, however, no escaping one key issue…
Many of the specialist posts, created by the HGSBs, didn’t necessarily exist ten, or even five, years ago. Given that, there’s a real scramble to recruit the right talent for such posts, with competition hotter than it’s been in a long time.
As the millennials move along to make space for the next generation infiltrating the workplace, companies have to consider, not only how to fill these posts but, what will appeal to the younger generations, without alienating the rest of the workforce.
Our offices are multi-generational, with individuals of varying experience and skill-sets as well as ages and backgrounds. In order to harness and maximise talent, and best impact on productivity, we need to cater for them all.
Recruitment and retention
It’s been reported that as many as one in five SMEs have a problem with recruitment and retention. The needs of workers are varied and changing and, in order to retain key staff and recruit the best of the new entrants to the job market, we have to adapt and make the modern office work for everyone.
Great working environments, with office spaces that reflect the company’s culture and core values, are now coming to the fore as employers start to recognise that the office itself is a valuable recruitment tool, which can be used to help to pull in high calibre candidates.
Making a statement
Unlike their older counterparts, millennials and Gen Zers are less focused on the money and more interested in feeling connected and involved; having a sense of purpose and working for a company that has a good reputation and solid values.
SMEs need to follow the big corporates and develop their CSR programmes, while giving some consideration to their brands and what they stand for. To appeal to millennials and post-millennials, they have to present themselves as forward-thinking concerns that can provide good training and opportunities.
What works for everyone
And so, as the physical embodiment of the brand and the hub that the workers will be drawn to, to come together, the office has to work for all. Many workers appreciate having some autonomy and that includes the opportunity to work in a less formal setting, as well as the benefits that are afforded by flexible working hours.
To get the environment right for everyone, there has to be a degree of flexibility. The forward-thinking business is rolling with this concept by providing activity-based spaces that are specific to the task in-hand.
An agile environment
These agile spaces provide a social and collaborative environment that can accommodate varying numbers, allowing for future growth.
Incorporating booths and kiosks, alongside smaller meeting rooms, with breakout areas and a mix of spaces to include work benches and touchdown points, so that staff can work in a group or on their own, these modern offices have something for everyone. They better suit the cross-generational mix and they encourage collaborative working, while allowing individuals the freedom of choice.
Such offices are designed to retain the workforce by providing it with a space that supports its wellbeing and encourages better engagement. If workers feel more invested in, and are happy in, their environment, the company is more likely to feel right for them and they’ll want to stay.
Setting out your store
And, with most potential new recruits being interviewed on the premises, what better sales pitch for a company than a well-designed office with top-notch facilities and a good mix of spaces?
Your website may be your shop front but your office is the physical store which allows job candidates to get an immediate feel for the company; what it stands for,
what it can offer and the type of people it’s likely to attract. With applicants aware that they could be spending a lot of time in this space, it makes sense to present them with a place where they will really want to belong.
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