The recruitment race: Why The Leap 100 are struggling with time, talent and ensuring the right fit

City A.M.
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Finding the right people for the job isn’t always an easy task when you’re a fast-growing SME. Nearly three-quarters of The Leap 100 have found it difficult to attract the right people.

“Hiring only the best people is a constant challenge for us,” says the chief executive and co-founder of one fintech company. “Tech talent is so sought after, especially in London. Brand new startups and global giants are all fighting over the same pool of talent – from experienced developers to fresh graduates.”

The challenge is made even more acute for some firms, because they are dealing with new and bespoke technologies.

Time is also a common issue for The Leap 100. “The time, effort and cost wasted on a hire who fails can set us back months. If I could recruit every time knowing with 100 per cent certainty that the new employee would be a star, then we'd be laughing,” says one founder.

Others remark that, despite having thorough interview processes, really understanding how employees work means actually having them in the workplace. As one founder comments, “it’s very difficult to make interviews reflect real life. There’s so much you learn about people once you start working with them.”

Several companies have found that seeking out “the right fit” can be tricky – and gets harder as the team grows. A strengthening economy means would-be employees can be more selective, and an often embryonic company culture means compensating elsewhere, say several respondents.

Solutions include extra focus on making the individual feel valued, as well as more solid responses, like offering equity. Eighty one per cent of The Leap 100 have done so, seeing it as a way to hold onto important employees.

That said, one managing director points out that giving away equity may not be an option if you have institutional shareholders.

Then “creative thinking is required to help retain key employees. Outside of profit and performance bonuses, employers could look at options of rewarding employees on shareholder return targets. That way, you could position it as a long-term incentive with dividend type payments if targets are achieved.”

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