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Growing Your Company: Five Hiring Tips For Your SME Call them employees, staff or team members: regardless of the term you use, they are the ones who can make or break a company.

By Samar Nabulsi

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Call them employees, staff or team members: regardless of the term you use, they are the ones who can make or break a company. In any business, employees are the company's strongest assets. Without them, we would not get sales or repeat customers. But hiring the right personnel in a cosmopolitan city such as Dubai is challenging. With so many different nationalities (and an array of experiences) from all over the world, creating a team from different ethnic backgrounds to represent you, and the vision you have for your company and brand, is where the real challenge lies. Here are some pointers to keep in mind when looking for people to join your organization:

1. Understand and identify what experiences your business requires

What should set a potential hire apart from another is the experience they have that will add value to your current business. If you are in retail, you will need someone who can pretty much "sell ice to the Eskimos." The set of skills that are important to ensure that you have the right candidate on board is all about the selling techniques that a person has gained through their experience.

Selling strategies vary from one company to the other. For example, some try to focus on upselling, some focus on cross selling and others only focus on simply making a sale. Setting the selling strategy to include all of the above mentioned techniques, and combining it with type of experience the staff member has, will create a winning team. However, what is also important to remember is the type of product that is being sold by that sales person. If they fully understand the product through the correct training techniques, then you have a winner.

2. Aim to bridge the gap between education and experience

Education and experience are both important tools, but it is the application of both that sets you apart from your competition. How do you achieve both? Through training. Training allows you to completely understand and maximize your staff's talent and guide you to use their past experience to your advantage.

When we were looking to start our team three years ago, we were specifically looking for employees with a retail background as well as children-related jobs like kid stores or nurseries. Hiring employees with the right background for our business has helped bridge the gap between education and experience, and it enabled us to fairly place the right candidate in the right position.

3. Include incentives for staff to perform and exceed sales expectations

We are all human, and we all get bored at some point. Our team at Big On Children put together an incentive program that motivates the employees and creates a fun environment. Our bonus structure is in direct relation to sales performance. We tried different approaches of bonus structures but we found that a cumulative team bonus was the most effective one. When the team achieves their weekly budget, they get a bonus for that week. If the team achieves the monthly budget, they get another amount. We have had months where our staff members went home at the end of the month with about 20% more on top of their salaries simply because they achieved their weekly and monthly targets. We have been working with our team for three years and we established a wonderful relationship with them. We understand that besides their bonus, they love that we often buy them their favorite treats during the busy retail season.

4. Never steal employees from competitors

Ethically, we should never steal employees from our competitors. We often think that we have won by stealing away an employee, but we also often forget that the same can happen to us. Training is probably the most expensive and time-consuming tool that a company spends on an employee. It takes hard work and dedication from the training team to groom the employees to become part the team. We have not experienced losing an employee so far, and we believe it is because we treat them well, and most importantly, we are helping them build a career with us.

5. Keep your HR policies in place as the business expands

From starting up with just three persons on staff to now having more than 20 people in the team today, the responsibilities of the original founders have evolved, as the company has grown from a startup to an SME. While HR responsibilities were primarily handled by the three co-founders of the company earlier, it has now been passed over to the different franchisees in the region.

Samar Nabulsi

Co-founder and Managing Director, Big On Children

Samar Nabulsi, co-founder and managing director of Big On Children, has taken the company from a three-person start up to overseeing 1000 global distributors in the space of three years. Big On Children has carved its success by bringing products into the UAE that previously didn't exist here, and by offering affordable distribution packages that encourage others to become entrepreneurs themselves. The company won the SME of the Year award at the 2014 Arabian Business Start Up Awards, and it was also a finalist at the 2015 GREAT Business Award competition.

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