SME versus large companies - how can you compete?

  • 31-12-21
  • Richard Lloyd Recruitment

Small and medium-sized businesses tend to face a key challenge when hiring employees: figuring out how to attract and retain great talent and keep them away from the allure of big companies After all, they can often offer more money for the same role. But it’s important to remember that money is only one motivator and doesn't apply to everyone! 

Here are our five tips to help increase your chances of finding great talent:

1. Focus on fit 

The reality is that although there are many benefits of working for a small company, some people are simply a better fit for larger organisations. And that’s ok. The important thing is that you identify those people at an early stage and do not waste time training up people who just want to go somewhere bigger. 

As you conduct interviews, focus on finding candidates that sincerely want to be part of a smaller organisation; those who enjoy the pace, energy, and variety that come with being an integral member of a smaller team. 

2. Build a great company culture 

Your company's culture can be a key part of its success and is a great way to create a sense of camaraderie and teamwork within the organisation, making it highly attractive to new prospects and harder for employees to leave. 

You can build an appealing culture by fostering an inclusive environment where employees feel recognised, respected, and aren’t afraid of any possible retaliation if they bring up issues they experience in the workplace. Position your company as a place that is accepting of all, prioritises people, and gives employees the flexibility to pursue their personal career goals. 

3. Focus on your strengths 

When you speak with candidates, you should discuss the pros and cons of small vs large businesses. While large companies typically have more chances for promotions, overseas positions, moving departments, and potentially better systems, it can be much harder to stand out, be noticed by your superiors, and feel like your work is having an impact. 

Employees at smaller companies can benefit from less rigid decision-making processes and a tighter-knit community that makes it easier to get noticed. Smaller companies also tend to be less siloed, so it’s easier to build a relationship with upper management and key decision-makers, and there’s generally greater exposure and visibility across the company. In SMEs, where there tends not to be a formalised salary structure, you may be able to command a higher market salary, but not always as it does very much depend on the role and the individual.

Job seekers will naturally gravitate towards one of these two environments, and you generally can’t change their preferences. However, you can make sure that candidates understand the many benefits of working at your smaller organisation. 

4. Build a tight team 

An employee’s coworkers are one of the biggest factors in how satisfied they’ll be in their position. Small businesses tend to have more tight-knit workplace communities simply by virtue of their size — that’s one of the benefits of working for a growing company. 

However, small companies that make an active effort to foster community on top of their natural environment can really develop something special. Once you build that, you can use your company’s culture and community to attract candidates that want to feel like more than a cog in a machine. 

Companies can build strong communities by offering ample opportunities for socialisation, such as including a well-equipped break-out area in the office where employees can hang out, or organising after-work events and interest groups. 

5. Allow more flexibility 

Sometimes, it can be tricky to attract top talent as a smaller company when competing against what larger companies might be offering, especially salary. However, not all compensation packages are strictly dependent on salary. Offering flexible work hours and locations are simple, impactful benefits that employees were looking for in 2021 and will continue to do so in the future. 

Employees in smaller companies can typically enjoy more flexible work situations as they aren’t restricted by the same impossible-to-change company policies and are treated more like individuals. In short, the deeper personal connections that aren’t directly tied to a salary help management view employees more like real people with important goals and lives outside of the office. This also brings an additional benefit for employees by allowing them to feel like trusted and valued members of the team. 

Especially with the growing popularity of remote work, make sure to clearly communicate any working-from-home options you are able to offer. 

Key takeaways 

Small and large businesses each have their own distinct advantages and disadvantages. Instead of trying to compete with larger businesses, build on the natural strengths you have as a small or medium-sized business and use those to attract candidates that are a great fit for your company. 

For more information on how to hire for your finance team, no matter your company size, get in contact with one of our experienced Recruitment Partners on 0283245640 or here.