By Kimani Kinuthia
Despite putting their best efforts, many growing businesses still grapple with the challenges of hiring the right way and creating rewarding Human Resources (HR) systems. It is common for business leaders to highlight the importance of talent and skills management but the reality is that if HR is not included in key decision making and implementation processes, then it will impede the desired results.
Data shows that SMEs employ more than 80 percent of the working population in Kenya and play a central role in its economic and growth strategies. Making small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) more competitive can help the country achieve its development objectives by creating more jobs, strengthening sectors and developing business models that work.
One of the greatest HR challenges SMEs face is employer branding. SMEs have over time lacked the ability to communicate their vision and purpose as an organisation, even to employees. SMEs should focus on building an employer brand that would attract top talent even from corporates to join “their dream”.
Many businesses also overlook the value of brand ambassadors who serve as believable representatives and enhance brand presence. Everyone wants to work for a reputable company, and a strong brand presence will attract the best talent in the market, impacting business performance. There are various ways to achieve these goals, which includes positioning the company as one of the leading best places to work for through professionalising service delivery, operations and establishing an effective work culture.
Another HR mistake growing businesses make is not investing in training and development for employees. This is critical yet businesses do not have an organizational structure; in essence, a road map outlining employee development. The new generation of jobseekers need clarity on what is available for them and how this plays out for them in terms of career and professional growth.
As captured in a report by BrighterMonday on Millennials and the Digital MarketPlace, LifeHack.org revealed that, “An employee is more likely to be productive when they understand what exactly is expected from them and they are given the training to perform such a task. Training gives confidence and confidence leads to employees that are productive.”
One of the best ways to address this challenge is investing in an in-house HR person to help business owners set up a HR department, handle the basic aspects of people management, and set up simple but beneficial training programs for staff. They can also guide on better managing and rewarding employees.
Lack of automation is another common HR challenge growing businesses grapple with today. Here, HR professionals can help in identifying and sourcing affordable digital tools that are relevant for a business, today and in the future. The HR person will advise on making the most of online platforms such as BrighterMonday to recruit and get you the best match for a role and other people management tools to help with hiring, payroll, performance management and other key functions.
More importantly, this HR officer or manager serves as the human aspect of the automation you employ to help you establish efficient human resource management systems, and create long-term HR policies and programs.
Equally, businesses must be innovative in building a company culture that gives employees an exceptional experience. Culture rests with the founders of the business. As a business leader, your employees will pick up on what you demonstrate, whether it is the hours of work you put in, how you treat people or even how you respond to emails, so pay attention to what you communicate to your staff. Some have said that ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’.
A large percent of SMEs consider budget constraints as an impediment to having tech tools to measure culture and employee engagement. What they need to do is get an inhouse HR person or outsource for HR support available in the market to help them assess and measure culture and advise on how to go about making any required culture change, among other HR functions captured above.
These challenges, among others, can be adequately managed by getting HR specialists to help businesses build efficient HR systems as well as guide on aligning to the country’s labour laws and its impact on employee management.
Indeed, HR personnel must be at the centre of the business and SMEs need to appreciate their value to the organization as well as the risks and opportunity costs that evolve when they don’t engage a HR professional to manage all human resource aspects of the business.
Kimani Kinuthia is the Head of HR at BrighterMonday Kenya and Uganda.