The pandemic and other issues have made it even more challenging for many business leaders to find and keep the people they need to run a successful small business.
As I wrote in September, 75% of small businesses said in a survey they would fire workers for failing to comply with their vaccination policies. The research project commissioned by Digitial.com found that 59% of surveyed small businesses would only hire vaccinated workers; 23% said they were considering a similar policy. Only 19% said that vaccination status was not a factor in hiring new employees.
Today, according to a new survey released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife, small businesses are finding it more difficult now than five months ago to find workers to fill open positions.
The poll of about 500 small business owners and operators, which was conducted by Ipsos between September 30 and October 7, 2021, found that of those companies who are actively hiring:
- 49% said it is hard to find candidates with the skills they need, up from 34% in June.
- 42% said it is hard to compete for talent with large businesses in the area, up from 26% in June.
- 44% are also finding it harder to fill open positions, up from 34% in June
As challenging as it may be for some small companies to hire the talent they need, recruiters and other experts say small businesses have important advantages that their larger competitors don’t.
In The Driver’s Seat
Patricia Karam is the CEO and founder Atlanta-based Mission Recruit, which provides talent acquisition services for Fortune 500 companies. She said, “Small companies are in the driver’s seat right now when it comes to recruiting and retaining workers because they can offer two perks at the top of most candidates’ wish list—the ability to work remotely and equity.
“The primary challenge I have faced recently as a recruiter for Fortune 500 companies is having to compete with smaller companies’ benefits and perks, namely the ability to be fully remote—beyond the pandemic. Many startups and small businesses also offer equity—and larger corporations just don’t do this.
“The first step any small business should take is to highlight in their job descriptions that they offer the option of working remotely as well as equity opportunities.”
Diane Gayeski is a professor of strategic communication and former dean at Ithaca College, and help leaders assess and adopt new technologies and practices. He noted that, “Many employees are attracted to small companies because they can get to know – and possibly even influence – leadership.
“All the current research points to the fact that top talent are looking for employers who share their values – where work has meaning, and where they have respect for the leaders who ‘walk the talk’”, she said.
Interaction And Impact
“In large companies, most employees have no opportunity to interact with leaders and what they see of them is highly staged. In a small company, employees can actually interact with leadership—[possibly] the owner—and have an impact—something employees also really value. It’s also more likely that they feel like they are treated as individuals and valued for all that they bring to the workplace—not just their job description,” Gayeski observed.
Advice For Small Businesses
The Right Tools
Cynthia Smith, senior vice president for regional business at MetLife, said that “In a competitive labor market, it is more important than ever for small businesses to have the tools and resources needed to attract and retain top talent.”
Five Ways To Compete
Bruce Bachenheimer is a clinical professor of management and executive director of Entrepreneurship Lab at Pace University. He said there are many ways that small businesses can compete against larger companies for workers. They include:
- Demonstrate that their mission/purpose is more compelling than that of a larger company
- Explain how the worker can have a much greater impact at the small business than at the larger company
- Show how opportunities for advancement are much greater
- Provide greater flexibility
- Offer a better title, equity and other options
Promote Selling Points
Matthew McSpadden, CEO of IT recruiting firm WELD Recruiting, noted that, “In the past, there were a lot fewer avenues to get your company and its main selling points out there to potential candidates. With today’s technology, the marketing and PR opportunities are endless.
- “Take advantage of your owned, earned and social media to generate videos, white papers, quizzes, and other interactive, engaging content that places who you are and what your company has to offer at the forefront.
- “If your company culture is exceedingly strong, ask yourself what you can do to present that to the candidate and give them a taste of it so they can anticipate what their work experience will be like.
- “If your company has a large charitable component and allows employees to take time off for volunteer work, then find a creative way to show and promote that. Additionally, make sure everyone in your small business knows the results of this analysis, so they can be a recruiter in any conversation. Nowadays, you never know where your next star employee will come from.”
Think Outside The Box
Tyler Sickmeyer, CEO of marketing company Fidelitas Development, advised that,”When it comes to recruiting, I’d encourage small business owners to consider thinking outside the box.
“Don’t turn your nose up at the two year gap on a stay-at-home mom’s resume. Take a chance on someone with limited experience that shows the intangible skills needed for success during the interview process. Finally, ask your best employees for referrals- birds of a feather flock together, as the saying goes,” he counseled.