Workforce management for SMEs: Challenges & solutions

Workforce management for SMEs: Challenges & solutions

Leadership & Management

GlobalLinker Staff

GlobalLinker Staff

1 May 2019, 12:10 — 7 min read

Prioritising personnel management is essential for all organisations and SMEs are no exception. While financial capital determines the overall well being of an organisation, human capital management shapes the efficiency of employees and the overall productivity of the enterprise. But for SMEs, challenged by their limited resources the common refrains maybe — we lack the funds to draw the best talent; we are too small to focus on human resources; we find training to be a challenge; or we have high attrition rates.

Yesterday we shared with you an entrepreneur's perspective on people management and ways to solve them. Today on Labour Day, GlobalLinker members share some of the workforce management challenges they face and insights on motivating their teams.

 

For SMEs, challenged by their limited resources the common refrains maybe — we lack the funds to draw the best talent; we are too small to focus on human resources; we find training to be a challenge; or we have high attrition rates.


Primary people management challenges

For Biyas Roy, a third-generation entrepreneur and owner of Arambagh Foodmart Pvt Ltd which has nearly 52 stores and a workforce of 450, the greatest challenge is finding the right manpower. Biyas shares, “We have noticed a downward trend over the years in the quality of manpower available for retail recruitment. In the front end and at supervisor levels, young recruits are not sincere towards their job as they used to be in earlier times. They are averse towards hard work and are not career oriented but tend to jump too many jobs for instant salary increases."

“The churn is too high despite all efforts of making them understand the importance of going up the ladder in one organisation as opposed to being a rolling stone. There is also deterioration in the retention quality of their education and experience. A commerce graduate cannot be depended upon to know even the basics of accounting or a supervisor with 7-8 years of store management experience does not know what per sq ft sale is,” she adds.

This sentiment is corroborated by Mehul Shah, owner of Elision TechnoLab LLP, an IT firm with 50 employees. He says, “Our major problem lies in recruiting the right candidates. They want to have an influence but are not willing to work hard for that.”

Training personnel is the major challenge faced by Jeby Jacob, owner of Germ Busters Private Limited, a sanitization services company. Jeby shares, “Our workforce includes 33 employees currently. Some of the labour lacks basic etiquette and courtesy and hence training them becomes tough. The common thought process of such employees is to just get the job done. The word ‘excellence’ is often alien to them.” He adds, “Middle management often comes with some experience in similar fields which makes it fairly easy to handle them.”

Our major problem lies in recruiting the right candidates. They want to have an influence but are not willing to work hard for that. - Mehul Shah


Finding innovative solutions for team motivation & management

Mehul shares an interesting approach to team management. He says, "We have created an in-house tool called TaskIT which helps the entire team in managing their tasks internally and helps managers in identifying how much time or over-time are they spending on each task. We can also come to know calculative billing hours for every project through this tool."

 

Jeby Jacob shares, "We have an annual four day paid holiday where all expenses are borne by the company. That’s one time where the team gets together and has team building activities and other recreational games.”

 

When it comes to retaining employees and creating a proper workforce training and development programme, Biyas has acomprehensive approach. She says, “We accept the fact that quality of manpower will not improve, and attrition will not go below a certain percentage. We have a whole gamut of in-house trainings spanning all aspects of retail, company policies, administration etc. When it comes to compensating our employees, we have a range of incentives linked with sales and cost savings. Their food and lodging are also taken care of by the company so that their productivity isn’t hampered.”

 

She adds, “We have a flat corporate structure with only 4 levels, and all department heads are accessible any time by even the lowest grade of employee. We do regular counseling and coaching in small groups and we have a strong HR team who visit stores regularly doing a lot of one-to-one with all levels. We also have a transparent system where the company’s long-term goals are shared with all the employees and everyone can access all reports of the company. A part of the year-end profit is given as bonus to the entire company.”

Internalising a proper HR team is an even bigger challenge than managing other teams.  Hiring HR as consultants on a fixed percentage basis works better for us. - Jeby Jacob

 

Optimising HR team for effective management

Managing a team is an ongoing and complex task. Many SMEs realise the benefits of hiring Human Resource (HR) professionals to streamline employee management. SMEs differ on outsourcing HR or creating an in-house HR team.

Jeby shares, "Internalising a proper HR team is an even bigger challenge than managing other teams.  Hiring HR as consultants on a fixed percentage basis works better for us.”

Biyas and Mehul, both prefer to have an in-house team. Biyas shares, "For a company, whose front-end workforce is fully responsible for generating sales, retaining customers and managing stores – an HR team is essential to manage, maintain and constantly upgrade that workforce."

 

“HR plays a major role in an organisation to bridge the gap between management and employees. Their role to motivate and address issues at hand helps employees share their concerns in the organisation," opines Mehul.

 

It takes strategic planning, innovative solutions and often professional assistance to manage a workforce. Do share with us in the comments section below your people management challenges and solutions.

 

 
Looking for more articles on people management? Check out our other articles:

How minimising management supervision can maximise employee performance

Why only training is not enough

Understanding attrition and ways to address it

Image courtesy: www.freepik.com

Network with SMEs mentioned in this article by clicking on the 'Connect' button on their profile. Biyas Roy, Jeby JacobMehul Shah

 

Disclaimer: This article is based solely on the inputs shared by the featured members. GlobalLinker does not necessarily endorse the views, opinions & facts stated by the member.

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GlobalLinker Staff

We are a team of experienced industry professionals committed to sharing our knowledge and skills with small & medium enterprises.

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