How technology can empower small businesses to find and retain talent

UK small businesses – renowned for their resilience – are facing an escalating number of challenges.

How technology can empower small businesses to find and retain talent

UK small businesses – renowned for their resilience – are facing an escalating number of challenges. Yet, as headlines keep being made and new issues arise, it’s easy to overlook the impact a talent shortage is having on the backbone of our economy. 

During the pandemic many businesses had to keep irregular hours, closing at inopportune times as workforces were forced to isolate and became stretched.

And this is a problem that has remained, with recent Xero research finding that 1 in 5 small businesses had to reduce opening hours due to employee shortages. Meanwhile, our Small Business Index found that jobs fell -5.3% y/y in August – the fifth consecutive month of declining jobs.

Trends like the “Great Resignation’, where people are leaving their roles in the hunt for greater flexibility and improved prospects, and an increase in the number of workers over the age of 50 choosing to retire, are resulting in small businesses struggling to fill vacant roles.

So how can small businesses adapt to ensure they’re best placed to attract and retain top talent, and continue to flourish? Technology may be the solution. 

Finding a differentiator

As employees and employers alike face rising costs in the UK, it’s no surprise that salary demands are going up. However, owners and operators are struggling to match these demands. After all, how can a small business struggling with their own financial constraints, driven by late payments from big businesses and other external pressures, embrace widespread wage increases? 

With this in mind, small businesses must look for other ways to differentiate their offerings to appeal to would-be employees, while also retaining current staff. 

Strengthening employee engagement – the mental and emotional connection they have towards their company, the work they do and their teams – is an excellent place to start. 

But how do you go about doing this? It’s not always easy to cultivate strong employee engagement, but a simple way of improving it is to ensure your employees have the tools they need to do their jobs to the best of their ability. 

In fact, our research found that when it comes to completing admin processes, outdated technology is the number one cause of frustration for more than 1 in 5 employees. Addressing this frustration can help drive employee engagement, and offer you the differentiator you need. 

Exceed expectations

It’s important to note that adopting intuitive technology isn’t only about addressing frustration. This is a proactive approach to meeting needs and expectations – employees are consumers too, and are used to engaging with digital technology on a daily basis in their personal lives. 

Stepping into the office (whether virtual or physical), shouldn’t also be like stepping into a time machine, where dial-up persists and filing expenses is deeply onerous. Instead, you can try to match the technology standards employees have in their personal lives to make work easier, more enjoyable and, of course, more efficient. 

For example, adopting new payroll or invoicing systems can reduce the time taken to tackle everyday admin tasks, freeing employees up to do more valuable and creative work, and embracing tools to make everything from holiday booking to expenses a doddle will improve engagement. 

This will result in a better experience for those already employed, and a more appealing one for those you’re looking to attract. Technology can be the driving force behind attracting and retaining talent, and give you the edge over larger competitors.

Alex von Schirmeister
Alex von Schirmeister

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