Michelle Pollard’s top 5 tips on recruiting for a family business

Michelle Pollard’s top 5 tips on recruiting for a family business

Retirement looming? Have things grown beyond the scope and skills of current family members? One of the big challenges a family business faces is recruiting non-family employees. It can be a confusing time, one fraught with disagreement and insecurity, particularly between the generations.

Yet it doesn’t have to be that way. From an employee point of view, joining a family business with an excellent working environment built on real values can be an enticing proposition. It can all add up to great job satisfaction, genuine loyalty and pride, and a love of their job beyond their corporate counterparts… if done right.

Michelle Pollard (pictured), Founder and MD of Spider Fixed Fee Web Recruitment, offers the following top tips for recruiting for a family business to help you traverse this tricky path.

  1. Think about the long term

Are any family members getting close to retirement? What gap will that leave? Who will take over when they step down? Will a non-family member be required to take on their responsibilities when the time comes? Or are plans already in place?

  1. Plan in advance

Take time to figure out exactly what you need, what kind of role you want to fill, or create, and sit down with all family members involved in the business to ensure everyone is on the same page. Identify skill gaps. Think about the type of experience you want to bring into the business, what kind of characteristics you want in a new employee.

It may be a good idea to have somebody outside of the business to give you a reality check.  Peeling back the layers of what family members actually do for the business may make your eyes water….for good or bad!  An HR Consultant or Business Coach can look inside your business and advise you of where the potential gaps are with regards to skills, responsibility and actual effective business needs!

It takes time to find the right person, and figuring out what you need in an employee will help clarify the process.

  1. Create a detailed job description

You should take time to write down what the key responsibilities of the role are, and who they will report to. This gives your team confidence of the scope (and limits) of the new post, and gives candidates confidence that as non-family members, their position is viewed as serious and valued by family members.

Remember, most ambitious and talented prospective employees don’t just look at the job they’re going for, they look at the potential for advancement. They may worry they’ll end up stuck in a mid-level position because a son, daughter or other relative will ultimately inherit the business.

If you want to really get hold of the most competent, hard working and driven employee for your business, you should ensure you’ve got a solid non-family hiring policy. Again having the opinions of trusted advisors and external partners can be invaluable giving you a fresh perspective on requirements and competencies of your new superstar.  Make it clear that hiring (and promotion) is based on the skills and competency of the candidate, and not their family connection.

If you need help, Spider can sit down with you and craft a great job description.

  1. Retention

This can be a sticky one. Not least because there may be existing issues on how various family members are remunerated. The usual components of a retention package are salary and bonus.

But depending on the seniority of the role you’re recruiting for, it might be worth offering equity – this gives senior managers a sense of common purpose with the family. It also has the effect of binding them to the company, aiding long term retention of employees, and offering an attractive package to talented people.

Properly laid out schemes can ensure no loss of control, e.g. non-voting shares, and buy back options on leaving the role. This lessens the impact on family members’ dividends.

Company cars, health insurance and flexible working hours are also attractive non-equity based perks.

  1. Use a recruitment company with real reach

Milchelle Pollard and her team at Spider offer a range of packages for recruiting your dream candidate. Spider will help you write the perfect job ad and then get it highly placed on all the main job boards, for a fixed fee. There’s no better way for an SME to reach out to the maximum number of potential employees.

For more top tips, vacancies and information visit Spider’s website.

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