This project is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth & Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme

How to recruit and retain the right people in your business

DATE: 20/05/22


Recruitment and retention is an issue that impacts every business from small local start-ups to huge independent corporations. As the impact of the global pandemic is felt and further compounded by the effects of Brexit and a drop in the volume of workers coming to the UK, it’s no less challenging a situation in Northern Ireland. Of course the right people are out there, the right individuals that you need in order to grow and scale your business but how do you go about finding them when every employer is looking for the same thing? And when you do, how can you ensure that they stick around and invest in your business just as you are investing in them?

It’s estimated that losing an employee costs a business an average of 130% of that employee’s salary taking into account recruitment and hiring costs, as well as retraining. Add to that the fact that 20% of new employees are now leaving their positions within the first 45 days and you can see why strategising around your recruitment and retention process is crucial to keeping your team and your budget on the right track.



Let’s start with how to find the employees you need. What is within your power to ensure that the right people learn about and apply for your role?


Keep it simple

When it comes to your job description and application process, don’t overcomplicate things. Make the process simple, clear, easy to undertake and make sure that you offer a number or email to contact in the event that anyone does experience any problems in their application. Be specific with what should be included in the application and be open about a realistic timeline within which applicants can expect to hear back. Openness from the outset will be well received.


Be very clear

When you’re outlining the candidate you’re looking for, be extremely clear. Firstly with yourself – what is it that you need from this role? What could someone bring that would change the game in your company? What minutia is involved and what scope is there for growth and change? Once you’re clear in your own mind, map out the position on paper. If you have an HR department who draft job descriptions, be sure to check that they really do fit the role in question and are not just generic title driven posts.


Play to your strengths

Know what your company represents and what it can offer a candidate. If you have a small team where everyone pitches in and works really well together, mention that. If you’re proud of the company culture you’ve cultivated, focus on that. If you offer incredible benefits and a great salary, lead with that! You’re pitching to prospective candidates as much as they are pitching to you.


Hire for potential

In the current market, candidates are often very selective about the roles they apply for and competition is fierce especially amongst graduates. Qualifications are important and often essential depending on the role you’re looking to fill but don’t forget to consider the potential that any candidate brings. Some individuals won’t have had the opportunity to fill out their CVs as much as others but they could bring far more potential for success to the role. See if you can figure that out in a face to face interview and trust your instinct when it comes to what is important to you.


Be a human

Many recruitment processes have been automated in recent years but with automation comes a lack of personal contact and prospective applicants do not enjoy that. If someone takes the time to read, consider and apply for your job description, the very minimum you should do would be to send a personal receipt of application and thanks and then a follow up of the next stage. Even if that is to say that you’re not taking the application further, it’s important to actually communicate that with professionalism.


Watch your reputation

The internet is superbly helpful when it comes to recruitment, but can also be hugely damaging. Before you go out to recruit, consider your online reputation. Former employees talk and they often do so online. Take some time to deep dive into what is out there about your company so that you can do damage control or to at least answer any candidates who might ask about what they’ve found.



It’s all about company culture

You may think company culture is only a thing in huge firms like Apple and Nike whose employee wellness programmes and benefits make a working environment so much better but truly company culture exists in every organisation. Consider each piece of your company, the systems, behaviours and values that you work within, all of that together becomes your company culture. Have you taken the time to consider your company culture? It’s worth doing so. Seting up a structure to allow for open communication, to hear your employees and respond to their needs, to encourage a positive and optimised work environment will be the best investment you can make in retaining your talent.


Show a clear path for advancement

Most candidates will want to know that the role they interview for may be something that leads to an advanced role in the future. Put in place a structure for your employees to grow. Whether that’s through prioritising Continued Personal Development opportunities, or habitually hiring from within to move your team upwards, it’s important to have a structure in place.


Learn from your employees

Listen to your employees present and past. If someone leaves after a negative experience, take their feedback on board. There is always space for improvement and if you show that you’re listening and open to change, your employees will be more likely to return your loyalty.


Prioritise communication

It always comes back to communication. Open, honest and clear communication. Both directly to your team members and indirectly through how you communicate your companies intentions and reputation to your customers. Be an employer that encourages honesty, that responds to problems in an open way and that doesn’t shy away from communication.


Give recognition

When it comes to compensation, do as much as you can. That’s the bottom line, if you can pay well, do so. If your employee is working extremely hard, improving the business from their position and you could not imagine doing with them? Compensate them accordingly. If you don’t, another company will. Recognition also comes in non financial ways, whether through company wide acknowledgement, the offer of an employee award or the benefit of days in lieu if someone has gone above and beyond. Consider what you would need to feel good about a role and operate with that in mind.


Focus on the 5%

You may have a team with some great employees that you don’t have to worry about and then a couple you feel you need to really invest time in to ensure they deliver as you need. Rethink your actions. Take the top 5% of your team, the ones who have consistently delivered for you and continue to do so under all circumstances – those are the employees you should focus your time on ensuring you retain them.

Whatever your business size, your hopes to scale, or your recruitment needs, bear in mind some of these tips to minimise time and finances lost in the recruitment process and to hold onto the best talent you can when you do finally find it.


Whatever your business idea, whether it’s just something you’ve been mulling over or whether you’ve taken some steps on the entrepreneurial path already, we’d love to help. Read some of our Go For It Success Stories and get in touch. Our business experts will be delighted to hear from you and to talk you through everything you might need to know to move forward with your business concept.