From the importance of talent for the growth of your business, to the ways you can create appealing working environments, we’ve gathered a variety of insights that you can perhaps adopt for your own enterprise.
Fist we have learnings from Neil Forrest, the MD of JM Glendinning Insurance Brokers North East – an independent insurance broker based in Newcastle that specialises in finding competitive insurance for SMEs.
How important is talent to the growth of your business?
Talent is absolutely central to the growth of our business. We’ve grown very rapidly in the first few years, so succession planning was something we needed to think about pretty much straight away.
In terms of hiring new staff, that has meant looking for people who can not only do the job now, but have the desire and ability to grow in to a more responsible role at some point. We also look for people who are good at sharing knowledge and best practice for the good of the team.
A lot of our work entails finding insurance for people who’ve struggled to find it elsewhere. Knowledge of which insurers will cover certain types of business is critical, and our team learn a lot from one another.
What do you do to attract new talent to the business?
We’re very clear on what local candidates are looking for and what they’ve been frustrated by in their previous jobs. So far we’ve built the business mostly from good people we’d worked with before who we knew wanted a new opportunity.
More recently we’ve had to broaden the search and give more thought to what we’re looking for from candidates. We now advertise roles externally and have even taken on our first apprentice and the quality has remained really high.
In terms of the recruitment process, we’re very conventional in that we interview candidates much like any business would. Within the interviews though, we’re very focused on how they organise their workload and how they communicate within a team, rather than just the technical aspects of what they’ve done before.
How do you measure the quality of your new hires?
We have an environment and working practices where the quality of their work is very self-evident. Because we’re very numbers-focused, we know very quickly whether or not we’ve got it right – we have detailed statistics on each team member’s level of enquiries, quotes and sales.
So far we’re nearly three years in with zero staff turnover and we’ve grown from a team of two to 13. As well as the hard statistics, we look at the way people help their colleagues out and share best practice and market knowledge. If they’re doing that, we know they’re a good fit for our company.
What do you do differently to retain talent?
I’ve worked in businesses before where staff retention has been a real problem. I now believe that if you can provide a role and work environment that’s better than they’ve experienced elsewhere, you’re 90 per cent of the way towards cracking staff retention.
You also need to give them empowerment and the tools to do their job. For example, we regularly fine-tune the way we use IT to make ourselves more efficient and effective. Compared to larger companies in our industry, we can roll out IT changes very quickly and easily, which has gone down very well with the team.
We also have a culture where people feel they’ll benefit from working well together, rather than competing with one another, and that they have opportunities to learn and develop.
On the softer side we also do things like a weekly quiz and we have beers in the office on a Friday afternoon, and regular social events. Small touches like that can go a long way in making it a more enjoyable place to work.
Read more on staff retention:
- Why did you get out of bed for work this morning?
- How to manage flexible working and give workers time to do what they’re most passionate about
- Tips from an entrepreneur on making employees fall in love with your business
What advice do you have for startups looking to grow their business through developing a strong team?
If you’re looking for fast growth, you really do need to be thinking about succession planning and developing the individuals within the team, very early on. I also think it’s important to be clear about what you want from your team and not drop your standards just to get people in. That will only come back to haunt you later on. Then once people are in the door, look to gradually give them more responsibility and opportunity.
If you’ve recruited the right people in the first place, they will value the extra responsibility and it’ll free up more of your time to work on other things.
Continue reading on the next page from tips from London School of Business colleagues and the approach to DREAMS.
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