There are nearly 31 million small businesses in the United States, and these are trying times for many of them. Along with inflationary pressures and supply chain problems, there’s a third challenge unique to right now: the Great Labor Shortage.
How can entrepreneurs manage their businesses through this crisis?
2020 changed everything
The year 2020 was more than an unprecedented year on its own. It had what is looking like a lasting impact on how employees view the very nature of their work. That will require an appropriate response from businesses looking to recruit talent.
One good example is working remotely. People saw that they could perform their jobs just as well without being at the office through the standard business hours. They saw the improved quality of life that came from not having to commute. Consequently, working from home is no longer a pie-in-the-sky dream. It’s something prospective employees know can be done without damaging the needs of the business.
The companies that respond to this with creative solutions are going to be first in line when it comes to getting their preferred people on board. Of course, not every business can do this. Not every role can be made remote and each job may have different proportions of time required in the office. But if there’s one word that has to underscore how business owners proceed in the future in this, and in all areas of the employer-employee relationship, it would be flexibility.
Look at your benefits package
The so-called “gig economy,” with its large pool of independent contractors, can be a prime source of new talent. Persuading people to give up the freedom that comes with being a 1099 contractor in exchange for the rigidity of becoming a W-2 employee is not always easy. But you have a powerful incentive on your side—the benefits.
As a business owner, you know better than most about the costs of health insurance, the challenge of funding retirement plans or even just the price of a vacation. A person working completely on their own faces a steeper hill to climb in financing all of this.
That means it’s time to assess the quality of your benefits package. If you’re doing a healthcare plan on the cheap, it’s probably not much of an upgrade from what an independent contractor might already be getting on their own.
But a comprehensive plan with a good provider network and dental thrown in the mix?
Now that’s something that persuades the right contractor to see the advantage of becoming a part of your team.
Rely on your base
We’re going to assume the employees you currently have are happy working there (if not, solve that problem before worrying about how to recruit new people). Those happy employees can be your best source of new talent, in the same way that happy customers are a source of referrals.
For instance, consider offering a referral bonus to any staff member who refers someone that you hire and retain for at least the 90-day probationary period. The challenges that small business owners face right now are very real and they are daunting. The businesses that have the best teams in place will be the ones who make it through to the other side when the storm passes.