Build A Stellar Team
25 August 2016

The heart of any successful business lies in its team. However, 64% of SMEs say manpower shortages are tough1, and small businesses often struggle to build and maintain an efficient workforce. Having to compete with larger establishments in attracting new talent, and tight foreign labour policies do not make it any easier. Often, many SMEs are unable to grow and expand their business due to difficulties in hiring suitable manpower.


Here’s how your small business can attract and retain talent to build a strong team despite the challenges.

Raise awareness of your brand

Tap into various platforms outside of the usual social media and advertising mediums to get your name out.


If your business is open to hiring fresh graduates, consider setting up career booths to raise awareness among future graduates about your company and its available job postings. The best time to do this is during their respective career fairs, which most local institutions conduct annually.


Reach out to the local institution that best matches your business needs. Looking to hire a designer? Try SOTA, Laselle College of the Arts and NAFA. If budding engineers are what you need, consider approaching the engineering faculties of local polyclinics and universities.

Use alternative recruitment methods

Job portals and newspaper catalogues may be a tried and tested way of getting staff, but there are many other ways of talent acquisition in this time and age.


One less orthodox way of hiring could be starting off with an internship programme. This is a good way to gauge the abilities of the incoming workforce, at reasonable manpower costs. Internships let you observe and evaluate a candidate’s capacity to qualify as a full-time employee, whether immediately (if they have already graduated) or after they graduate.

Internships are a valuable opportunity to assess factors like the candidate’s ability to gel with your team, their work ethic and level of productivity. This saves your business time and resources spent training a new hire that may turn out to be a bad fit. The turnover rates of businesses with internship programmes also tend to be lower.

“Studies find that businesses who convert interns to full-time, instead of hiring permanent staff directly, report a 62.4% rate of employee retention after 5 years.”2

SPRING’s SME Talent Programme (STP) is a good way to recruit interns from ITEs, polytechnics and universities. Not only does the programme link aspiring talent with SMEs, it also covers up to 70% of the internship stipend or sponsorship value.

Hires from unexpected portals can surprise you. Other lesser-known sources of talent include SCORE, a job portal that connects employers with ex-convicts trained in workforce skills. Your business could just find itself an appreciative hire, all while giving back to society.

Consider also the newly established TalentDash. The talent-mapping platform identifies the top people in the industry, before highlighting suitable candidates for your business based on aggregated big data information.

Build a strong employee referral culture

You can attract and retain high-calibre employees by being the kind of company your employees would encourage others to join. Consider offering incentives to the employee when they successfully refer a suitable candidate. This is one advantage small businesses have over large ones, as they can cultivate a conducive working environment from the start. Take your cue from Vacasa, a vacation rental management company established in 2009.

“Vacasa has grown from its two original employees to over a thousand, mostly because of employee referrals.”

CEO Eric Breon reveals that they accomplished this by focusing on the things that made people leave their jobs, and did the opposite. This method proved effective, since “those same factors are driving referrals” and are “impacting [their] retention and [their] productivity in a really positive way.”3

Achieving this will accomplish two things for your business: It will make talent come to you, and it will encourage existing talent to remain in your company.

Upgrade your current team

Staff often value training opportunities as it gives them opportunity to learn and grow at the workplace. To retain valued staff, appeal to their self-actualisation by sending them for training courses and workshops. Several Workforce Development Agency (WDA) schemes help small businesses upgrade their workforce by defraying a portion of the cost. Their Workforce Skills Qualification programmes offer courses in everything, ranging from workplace literacy to service excellence. The Enhanced Training Support for SMEs, for example, offers up 90% course subsidies for an extensive list of approved courses.  


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