Here's how to balance people and profit while hiring talent, acquiring customers and growing revenue

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This is an excerpt from ‘Australia’s Business Challenges 2017’ — a comprehensive must-read e-book for small business owners brought to you by Bank of Queensland. Scroll down to download a copy.

No matter what the scale or type of business you are in, there’s one asset you need to get absolutely right: your people.

Despite the growing influence of technology and automation on so many processes today, business leaders rate talent issues as the number one threat to growth.

The corollary is that having the right people in your venture is your most powerful engine for attracting customers and growing revenues.

So why do many businesses struggle when building their talent pool, when it is clearly critical to success?

While the relationship between your people and your customers is intertwined, the first thing to recognise is they are not the same thing. When hiring, your need a clear strategy to attract exactly the type of person you want.

For small businesses, an innovative, targeted approach is even more important to cut through the noise of the digital age. You need to make sure your business stands out and also not be flooded with the wrong sorts of applications that will simply waste your valuable time.

“The trick when you are trying to attract talent is how you get across who you are as an organisation and what you are about,” says behavioural scientist and coaching psychologist Aaron McEwan, HR Advisory Leader at CEB, now Gartner.

“It’s about attracting very specifically the people you want. The first part is to really clearly identify to articulate your employee value proposition. You’ve got very savvy consumers now who are skeptical of corporate messaging and don’t respond well to corporate motherhood statements.”

Innovative, targeted hiring

McEwan cites the example of Aspen Medical, a global provider of health services with a focus on placing talent in remote communities and crisis situations – like an ebola outbreak in Africa. The challenge is how to attract members of the medical community – from doctors to nurses and paramedics – who already have a high demand for their services into challenging situations.

The solution is to use a strategy he calls “branding for influence” rather than “branding for appeal” you might use when selling a more conventional product like a soft drink. “The message might be to take three months off to change the world and have a once in a lifetime experience,” McEwan says.

The next step is to use the right channels. For doctors it might be LinkedIn. (During Australia’s mining boom another company used ad space during flights from Perth to outlying towns.)

With many shy of recruiters and their pitch, Aspen used technology to give GoPro cameras to first responders already on scene, jumping out of helicopters in hot zones and sharing their stories on social media to highlight the experiences available to team members.

This is an excerpt from ‘Australia’s Business Challenges 2017’ — a comprehensive must-read e-book for small business owners brought to you by Bank of Queensland. To download a copy, fill in your details in the form below.

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