Driving growth through employee engagement

You will often hear experts says that good people make a business: in this piece, in association with HSBC, we explore what that really means for SMEs.

Attracting the best people to your business and subsequently keeping hold of them is one of the biggest challenges for any growing business.

With Millennials increasingly looking to excel in a number of roles during their career, keeping their itchy feet grounded for long enough to make a difference to your business can seem like a losing battle. But there are ways you can hold back the seemingly inevitable tide of staff attrition.

Doing more with less

The UK’s productivity puzzle is still stumping the best minds in the land. So how can you ensure that, as a young business, the few employees you have produce the largest output?

Employee engagement is one key factor. People who feel valued as an individual, see themselves as treated fairly and are invested in the company’s goals will work harder and smarter.

It may seem obvious but you only have to speak to your friends in the pub on a Friday evening to appreciate how seldom employers get this right. You may feel as though you’re being asked to pander to your staff’s needs when you have a million other things to worry about, but the rewards both financial and in your long-term work relationships mean you can’t afford not to pay attention to this area.

Maximising the skills available to you

The skills gap is another term you will have heard frequently in the last year or two. An ageing population means that in the next decade we will lose a terrifying amount of knowledge from the workforce, and it’s not always clear how the younger generation will replace it.

Bringing in people with the skills to drive your business forward is the obvious solution. But nowadays employers are finding that top candidates are hard to find, expensive and often snapped up by high-profile blue chip companies.

So another approach smaller business are taking is to unlock the potential of staff members they already have by “multi-skilling” them. Sometimes you already have someone on your payroll who can plug the skills gap in your business.

Take a closer look at everyone in the office. Are they always fixing people’s IT problems or helping them with work problems that are not strictly under their remit? Maybe there’s a chance there to develop these fringe skills into something more concrete and valuable.

Some employees will be happy to stay where they are and be resistant to a move. In this case it’s not wise to push them into something they’re not comfortable doing. But for those who are enthusiastic about the idea of changing roles, there is a range of online and face-to-face training suites that can be used to upskill people for new roles.

Although some external training courses may seem expensive, in the long-term it will be cheaper than long and arduous recruitment processes that have no guarantees of finding the best candidate. And the cost can be offset by incentives such as the government’s flexible training opportunities.

Cast your net wide

For all the talk of upskilling current employees, you will still need to rely on a certain amount of external recruitment to grow. When you do, make sure you give yourself the best chance by looking in the largest talent pool possible.

The EU’s labour laws mean recruiting from countries within Europe has never been easier, with many young professionals keen to work in the UK.

And even for those outside of the EU, student and apprenticeship visas mean you can bring in some great young talent from countries now making huge strides in innovation and developmentAn apprenticeship scheme is also a way to bring though domestic talent you might not otherwise be able to reach. As a general point, don’t just post a role on a generic job board and wait for the applications to come flooding in. It’s a candidate’s market now so you have to be more creative. Use your networks, think about how you want to portray your brand and how to connect with the best talent out there.

Help is at hand

All of these things are easy to say on paper but when your business is (hopefully) growing you will have no time to consider everything.  Thankfully there are resources out there to help you if you feel lost of overwhelmed.

That’s why HSBC have launched the Elevator programme.

The Elevator Pitch

This is your opportunity to tell us about an exciting idea to help grow your business and be in with a chance to win £150k to make that idea a reality (terms and conditions apply).


You can enter the competition in 2 easy steps:

  1. Film yourself in a 90 second video telling us your idea and how it will take your business to the next level.
  2. Once you are happy with it, upload your video via the “submit your pitch” button and complete the short application form.

The closing date for Entries is Monday 30 November 2015. After that our judging panels will review the video entries over two rounds in January before selecting 10 Finalists – to be announced on Monday 15th February.

Those 10 companies will go through to the National Final on Monday 29th February.  As well as pitching for the £150k cash prize, they will have the opportunity to take part in a series of masterclasses led by some of the UK’s best business minds. The winner will also have access to 10 hours of mentoring from a business expert.

As well as the opportunity to pitch for the cash prize, the Elevator programme also looks to provide the information and insight that can help growing businesses through a series of Talks and Guides.

The Elevator Talks

A unique series of live-streamed events featuring top business leaders and experts. Each talk will focus on a key theme to spark business growth, and will feature insights, inspiration and an opportunity to interact with our speakers.

Whether you’re getting your business off the ground or looking to take it to the next level, The Elevator Talks will surely help you on your way.

The Elevator Guides

Essential reading for anyone wanting to take their business to the next level. The Elevator Guides will offer practical tips and advice to help you overcome barriers to growth and achieve your business ambitions.

Our guides will explore some of the fundamentals of launching and growing an enterprise, from the secrets of business planning to unlocking innovation and perfecting your pitch.

Read more about the HSBC Elevator programme.

Further reading:

> Why a business plan is for the lifecycle – not just for start-ups

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.

Related Topics

Early Stage Funding