People Leadership

Effective Talent Management Strategies for Small Businesses  

April 24, 2024

Talent Management Strategies in Canada

According to a report from Equifax, more than half of Canadian small business owners are worried about recruitment and retention. With the rising cost of living and a lack of good workers, time and resources are scarce for small businesses across the country. Fortunately, there are simple and cost-effective ways to improve hiring and retention efforts. 

If you’re struggling to attract good people and keep them aboard, using a talent management strategy can provide insights into why this is happening and how to address it. By doing so, you’ll save time from having to hire again and again, allowing you to invest in developing and rewarding existing team members. In today’s article, we’ll cover what talent management is and offer practical strategies for attracting and retaining employees in your small business.

A talent management strategy saves you time from having to rehire, allowing you to invest in developing and rewarding existing team members. In this blogpost, we cover what talent management is and offer some practical strategies for attracting and retaining employees in your small business. 

What is talent management?  

Talent management strategies involve how an organization attracts, hires, and onboards applicants, how it motivates employees, and how it develops staff to grow with the company. From identifying talent gaps to sourcing and onboarding suitable candidates, as well as providing ongoing training, it’s all about setting your team up for success. And it’s not just about hiring; it’s about keeping your team engaged, retained and motivated to achieve long-term business success.

Talent management strategies to attract and retain employees  

While larger organizations might have a whole department solely focused on talent management, small business owners can still make a big difference with the following eight affordable and effective talent management strategies. 

1. Make a good first impression  

Effective talent management starts with hiring the right talent. To do so, you must create the best candidate experience possible. Find out how job applicants experience your company’s recruitment process and where you’re going wrong by sending a Recruitment Feedback Form to applicants after they complete the recruitment process. This is particularly important if candidates are turning down job offers. When you receive their responses, you’ll learn how to improve your hiring approach to make a good first impression. For example, maybe there’s something simple you could do to win over candidates, like getting back to them sooner. 

2. Offer an employee referral program 

If you’re having a hard time finding strong candidates, look to the employees you already have to provide referrals. If you offer an incentive through an Employee Referral Policy, your employees will be more likely to take part in the program. Incentives could include cash rewards, added discounts on the products or services you provide, gift cards, or even time off. The policy outlines the referral process, the awards available, and eligibility requirements for candidates and employee referrers.  

Paying a small finder’s fee for a quality hire pays off when you consider the time and cost savings involved. You can streamline referred candidates to the front of the line if they meet the qualifications for the role. Save time and resources by conducting a phone interview to assess their suitability, bypassing the need to advertise on external websites and review numerous résumés from unfamiliar applicants. You’ll need to interview referred candidates as you would anyone else, but the groundwork is already done for you. 

3. Kickstart new hires with onboarding  

One of the most effective talent management strategies for small businesses is facilitating a positive onboarding program, which significantly contributes to employee retention and success in their respective roles. To keep yourself organized and on track, use an Onboarding Checklist with details on what to do before an employee’s first day, on their first day, and during their first week, month, and three months on the job. Being prepared for your new hire to start, supporting them as they acclimate, and setting performance expectations sets the tone for the entire employment relationship. The checklist ends with steps for closing the employee’s probationary period, including a probationary performance review. 

4. Reward and recognize employees  

You may not have the budget to show your appreciation with large raises, but there are other ways to recognize employee efforts. Review Modern Reward and Recognition Training: Making Them Meaningful and Inclusive (Immersive) to brush up on the latest reward and recognition strategies for motivating employees. This course gives tips on how to give recognition, such as how to personalize it, make it timely, and ensure you’re being inclusive. There is also a section covering no-cost reward and recognition strategies like fostering peer-to-peer recognition, holding friendly games or competitions, or providing exposure and development opportunities through stretch assignments and special projects. 

5. Provide development opportunities  

Providing employee development opportunities is a great way to build your internal talent pipeline, attract top candidates, and improve performance and retention. Cross-training can be particularly helpful for small businesses facing staffing shortages. Implement a Cross-Training Policy to outline what cross-training is, how long the process takes, and how employees can participate. The policy explains that the goal of cross-training is to improve customer service, teamwork, and opportunities to support career growth. Preparing your workers to fill in for each other in this way also helps with business continuity. 

6. Plan for your company’s future leadership 

As part of an effective talent management strategy, it’s important to consider what will happen if staff leave, especially if your small business relies heavily on a few key people or employees with specialized skills. Use a Succession Planning Form to prepare for potentially disruptive staff departures by identifying and developing internal talent to take over. The form takes you through the steps in the planning process, including evaluating internal candidates and identifying the skills and knowledge they might be missing. It also allows you to easily compare succession candidate skills and abilities against those needed for the job so that you can plan for training and development initiatives to bridge those gaps.  

7. Improve the employee experience through exit surveys  

You may not have an HR person or the time to administer exit interviews, but it’s still important to gather feedback when an employee informs you of their resignation. Save time by providing an Exit Survey to departing employees. The survey asks how employees feel about their compensation, the training they received, management, their working conditions, workload, and company culture. When you receive survey responses, you’ll start to get an idea of why people are leaving your organization. You can then use an Employee Retention Program Planning Form to plan improvements that address employee concerns. The form helps you calculate turnover rates, review exit survey responses, and brainstorm solutions to increase retention. 

8. Refine your talent management program over time 

Talent management affects every stage of employment, but you don’t have to tackle everything at once. Start small and use a Talent Management Strategy Checklist to prioritize your approach. The checklist covers steps to take in different functional areas of HR, including workforce planning, recruitment, onboarding, employee development, and so on. Narrow your approach to one or two areas by considering your current gaps and where you’re seeing employee or candidate concerns. Concerns may change over time, so assess and periodically reassess your employee and candidate experience to continue to attract and retain the best employees possible.  

Final thoughts 

With these effective talent management strategies, you can devise a plan to boost retention and make wiser hiring choices. Whether it’s implementing onboarding, recognition, or employee development solutions mentioned here, each step can enhance your employee experience and elevate your company’s performance.

Retain top talent with talent management strategy help from HRdownloads  

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