During the “Great Resignation” of 2022, more than 50 million American workers voluntarily quit their current jobs in search of better options. This phenomenon most greatly affected large organizations, especially those with stagnating wages and less flexible remote working options. However, the implications of mass employee preference changes reach far beyond corporate employees – the Great Resignation exposed the underlying needs of aging workers, frontline professions, and working parents at organizations of all sizes.
Even as corporations have experienced a stabilization in employment recruiting and retention, small business are still feeling the ripple effects on the labor market; research shows that in March 2023, 47% of American small businesses reported having open job positions that they could not fill. From finding qualified talent to offering benefits and opportunities to retain workers, small business owners should consider the following tactics to build and grow a consistent workforce:
1. Look for qualified candidates, with realistic expectations
Hiring in 2023 is no easy task for any organization, let alone small businesses. American workers have increasing choices where, when, and how they want to work – how can small businesses attract the right talent? First, recognize that young people entering the workforce for the first time are looking for job listings in non-traditional places, like social media platforms. Consider posting roles and company information on Instagram and Facebook to get better reach among young job seekers and widen your recruiting pool. Second, specifically define what kind of skills you need on your staff and be open to training inexperienced workers into filling the need – research indicates that gaps in employment could be filled by women, young adults, and seniors who dropped out of workforce during the pandemic and are now reentering the job market. Make sure the qualifications you are asking for match the compensation and employee experience you can offer – workers increasingly expect additional flexibility, benefits, and workplace engagement from their employers.
2. Invest in training and development
Whether you are onboarding new employees or upskilling current staff, it is important for small businesses to continuously invest in training and development. From basic skills for daily tasks to advanced digital competencies or other specialized knowledge, employees are more likely to succeed and feel a sense of pride when their organizations spend time and resources helping them grow. Employee development does not have to be too expensive or time-intensive either – research shows that 80% of American workers are willing to complete learning programs with virtual teachers or simulations, and 84% are willing to attend meetings in virtual conference rooms. Leveraging the benefits of digital and remote training tools can help your small business achieve training goals, while still keeping costs low and staff productive.
3. Make sure you offer fair compensation and benefits
Money may be tight – but it is extremely difficult to attract and maintain quality employees if you are not offering sufficient pay and benefits. No amount of team building or training programs can keep employees loyal if they can’t meet their financial needs. When putting together compensation packages for new hires, or deciding how to increase compensation for current employees, consider the full package – wages, medical benefits, paid time off, flexible work schedules, and more. In addition to a strong base wages, workers increasingly weigh benefits – particularly, healthcare and childcare – as highly as income when deciding where to work and how long to stay. Start conversations with your staff about their needs and expectations for their employment compensation, and be willing to adapt to their circumstances to retain top talent.
4. Promote employee engagement, recognition, and appreciation
At the end of the day, employees are loyal to organizations that create valuable experiences, recognize their hard work, and appreciate their contributions to the team. These efforts should reflect the overall values of your small business and the unique interests of your staff – whether you decide to add social responsibility initiatives that your employees are passionate about, ask for their feedback on workplace design and customer interactions, or reward employees with gifts or awards for meaningful contributions. Whichever approach you choose, make sure that your employees feel recognized and engaged in the workplace in the ways that mean most to them.
Although many organizations, large and small, still struggle to find and retain employees, you don’t have to feel stuck – try these strategies to hire the best talent and make sure they stick around.
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