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Top tips for recruiting and retaining talent

In February, O2 Business teamed up with Enterprise Nation and England Rugby for Accelerate 2019, a unique event where experts from the worlds of sport and business discussed techniques for scaling your business and performing at the highest level.

We were privileged to hear from Lyndsey Simpson, one of three CEOs at The Curve Group, a £19m turnover business that delivers Recruitment and HR services and solutions for large high street banks as well as to start-ups and fast growing companies.

Here are Lyndsey’s top tips for attracting talent to your growing business:


  1. Have a story – When you interview a potential recruit don’t make it all about you, the business and your products. Focus on why your business does what it does, where you are now and your plans for the future.


  1. Offer something different – As a small or growing business compete with the benefits packages offered by large corporations. So think about what you can At The Curve Group, for example, everyone is allowed a ‘duvet day’, when they can take a day off once each year without notice. It’s a benefit that their employees value very highly.


  1. Start dating – Every event or meeting is an opportunity to recruit. So think about the people you might need in a few months, next year or in five years’ time. Build relationships now with the people you meet who would fit these roles. You may not be in a position to employ them now, but when you are, you’ll have a shortlist of great candidates to reach out to who you already know, and who have an existing relationship with your brand.


  1. Interview candidates as if they are customers – You want every person you interview to leave feeling that they want to work for you. So don’t be tempted to cut an interview short, even with candidates who aren’t the right fit for you.


  1. Be flexible – As a small business you can use your agility to your advantage. If it helps to recruit the best talent you could offer flexible working hours, remote or home working or perhaps a job share.


  1. Be a speed demon – Use your size to your advantage. If you have the right candidate in front of you, make a formal offer straight away, and have your offer letter and contract delivered to them the following morning.



Once you have the right people on board you’ll want to make sure you keep hold of them. Here are Lyndsey’s suggestions for retaining talent:


  1. Don’t assume your people will remain motivated and engaged – Ask them! What could you do or offer to keep them performing at their best?


  1. Create opportunities for promotion – SMEs often have a flat organisational structure with few opportunities for promotion. , such as giving them responsibility for key clients or projects.


  1. Keep talent management in-house – Businesses often delegate talent management to external agencies and trainers. But why not use the talent you already have? The people you feel most confident putting in front of your customers are the very people who should be helping to develop others.


  1. Link personal objectives to business objectives – Find ways to use your talent’s personal ambition to support and grow the business. For example, instead of investing and sending them on a project management course, give them a project to manage and let them learn ‘on the job’.


  1. No need to mollycoddle – Part of the joy of working in a fast-growth business is the feeling that you are flying by the seat of your pants. It’s what thrills top talent the most. So, give them the space to learn and thrive and avoid micromanaging by:
    • Asking them how they like to be managed
    • Managing expectations rather than individual tasks
    • Expecting a few ‘fails’ along the way
    • Giving them as much responsibility as you think they can handle, and a little bit more
    • Trusting them to do the right thing


We run regular #ScaleUp events throughout the year with our partner Enterprise Nation. So if you see 2019 as your year for growth, check out these upcoming events.

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