The Guardian Social Enterprise Network
Tom Rippin – chief executive, On Purpose
Be clear on the position you are filling: It may no longer be the same as that of the person who left. Once you’re clear on what you need doing, then you can start thinking about what skills, behaviours, attitudes you need from someone who could successfully fill that role.
Challenges for small social enterprises: As a smaller organisation, it’s very difficult to provide the kind of programme that big corporate graduate programmes or, for example, the civil service fast stream programme can provide. Having said that, there are many things that can be done to retain talent, often in smaller ways. I think a lot of it is around creating an environment and organisation where you feel you are learning and developing (even if not, maybe, being promoted in a formal way).
Retaining staff: Keep them learning and growing. If you can’t promote the ‘upwards’ then not give them new opportunities in new areas, feedback, responsibility and a sense of what they are contributing to is also important. Don’t assume you have them for good just because you are a ‘nice’ organisation – you still have to earn their trust, commitment and loyalty.
Richard Tyrie – trustee, Unltd
Attracting and retaining millennial graduates: Social enterprises are inherently more flexible, offer more challenge, have flatter structures and less constraints. Values-wise one could argue they have more to offer too. We all know millennials cite social responsibility as core to their decisions.
Use a varied recruitment process: CVs aren’t the be all and end all, being different in how you engage talent can make you stand out… and make the selection process easier and more efficient. Its tough to identify the values/spirit/essence of an applicant if they all apply via a CV. Think about how you could tease this info out with some interesting questions relating to the role requirements.
Inspire talented staff: The ‘why’ you exist, why it matters – what change are you trying to effect – is infinitely more compelling than the ‘what’ you do, or the ‘how’. If you’re able to inspire people with your narrative you’re halfway there to building a pipeline of talented people.
Referrals: Chances are your network already knows someone that is perfect. Don’t be afraid to ask.
Tips to retaining talented staff: Autonomy, constant opportunities for growth, mastery of their role and an obsession with building a collaborative culture.
Lanny Goodman – independent management consultant
Aspirational employees: You need staff who have been where you aspire to go and have a feel for what that is like, culturally, process-wise and in terms of skills and experience. I’m not suggesting you should let go of the staff you have, but if you are acquiring new staff, look for people who have worked in organisation of a size and type similar to where you are headed.
Challenges for social enterprises: Young people are scrambling for anything that may give them any experience they can leverage into a paying job. I’m sure non-profits are benefiting from this. A serious problem with non-profits in this country is that people who dedicate their careers there often make much less than the commercial sector and often have no retirement plans and wind up with little or nothing of financial value to show for a lifetime of service.
Challenges for young graduates: I was told recently that generations are now redefined every seven years due to shifts in attitudes and technology. This implies that organisation leaders are now two, three or more generations apart from their entry level employees. This is a huge gap to bridge, and unfortunately, leaders tend to stick with what they know and what they have experienced and are often technologically and culturally out of touch.
Be creative when recruiting: To catch the right fish, you have to have the right bait. I find most organisations are terrible at how they publicise their need for talent. A little ingenuity and creativity goes a long way. Also asking your existing employees about their friends and relatives has been effective for many companies.
Educate and train employees: The more they know, the more likely they are to be able to exercise good judgment, take initiative and avoid mistakes. A good strategy for this is define their jobs with a few broad strokes, but define what they are not allowed to do very clearly. This is for their protection, the company’s protection and the customers’ protection. These limitations also become the professional development agenda for the individual.
Ami Bloomer – founder and chief executive, Give What You’re Good At
Cultural fit is a key attribute in prospective employees: The person can have exceptional credentials but if their values and personality don’t fit the team, it can make for an uncomfortable working environment that prohibits people from voicing their ideas – and hampers business development.
Ensuring employee fit with the organisation: Invite them to our events, to meet our clients and to add their ideas. In essence they shadow the team and day-to-day business activities for up-to three days (paid) and that enables us to make an informed decision about fit and not select ‘yes-men’.
Companies need to ensure they have the right mix of talent for their organisation: Companies need to look at the ‘fit’ of their staff on a regular basis. For a successful team with shared goals and objectives it is important to make sure everyone is reading from the same page – even more so with a social enterprise when your values and mission is essential to the businesses success. Everyone needs to be on board and everyone needs to understand where the business wants to expand and grow to help achieve it.
For a cohesive workforce: Communicating business strategy and regular team building, career reviews and development activities such as coaching and skills workshops really add value and bring an organisation together to work as ‘one’.
Ensure new recruits share same values: Social enterprises cannot effect positive social change without a robust commercial model. Its important for new recruits to be aware of that. My approach to employment is this, the person should create more value that they cause the business to incur. I have employed unrealistic, non-businiess minded folk in the past and this impeded my businesses ability to deliver on its social aims.
Purpose is now the key motivator: People are doing increasingly more complex jobs and this has given rise to the millenial’s demands for purpose.
Top three tips for hiring great social enterprise talent:
1. Involve your team in the decision: Have the individual shadow your organisation, meet your clients, beneficiaries and staff.
2. Invest and reward the right individual.
3. Think carefully about your organisations need to strike a balance between purpose motivations and business acumen.
Saffron Fidgett – founder, Career Circus
Look for unique individuals when recruiting: My advice would be not to expect or want a clone of that person. It puts too much pressure on you when you are recruiting as you are looking for a particular ‘type’ of person and then the new person feels pressure to be the ‘same’ as the previous valued member of staff. However, it’s also important to look at the other team members and what characteristics and skills would complement and add value to your business.
Ensure a fair recruitment process: To ensure no bias comes in to recruiting and to ensure you get the culture fit you want, start by profiling your team and organisation – what skills, values, attributes, behaviours, competencies do they possess that form the culture and then design an assessment/recruitment exercise to benchmark the candidates against the ‘fit’.
Managing millennials: Keep them motivated and engaged to stay with the organisations. It is about giving them responsibility and by that I mean real tangible and visible responsibility so that they feel, know and can demonstrate the value they are adding to their job, the organisation and to society. By increasing their responsibility and growing the job with them then they are more likely to stay engaged and stay with the same organisations a little longer as they can see their career progressing and growing.
Funding for young people: The government backing young people with start-up funding and the likes of Start Up Britain have really inspired young people to start their own business and true to their values they are increasingly wanting it to have a social purpose. I went along to Youth Enterprise Live the other week and the buzz of young social entrepreneurs and the support both financial and from organisations was phenomenal.
Replicate funding for over 24′s: The only downside I can see to it is that most targets the under 24′s like Princes Trust and there are a lot of young professionals in their late 20′s like myself that are now getting the buzz to start a business but we don’t get the same support. This is a good talent group for social enterprises to recruit from as they are ‘second bouncers’ but professionals in their mid-late 20′s will come with the experience and knowledge of themselves as a manager/person whilst still possessing the energy, drive and enthusiasm to benefit an organisation.
Tips to attract and retain talented staff:
1. Attract people with the same values as you and through your networks
2. Observe and listen to your gut feeling, you will know when you have found the right ‘talent’
3. Retain them by keeping them motivated, engaged and grow them to be your future leaders
Jennifer Labus – managing director, Your Square Mile
Attributes in employees: I believe that chemistry and passion for what you are trying to achieve is imperative. Skills can be taught and enhanced.
Strategy to retain millennial graduates: We have put in to place a formal review process with feedback every three months on performance in addition to asking our employees what they want to accomplish and/or other experiences they wish to gain. We work together to put together a plan in order to help achieve their goals. Thus far it has worked with our employees and it also gives them the experience to participate in meetings with senior partners and the opportunity to present to key partners, which is invaluable experience, particularly if they are at a junior level.