It’s no secret that there is a labor shortage in the U.S. Many companies are now able to operate remotely, but those that require physical, on-site labor, are finding themselves held back by a lack of applicants. Small businesses everywhere are struggling to keep up with demand and are being forced to turn away new business. The common narrative has become “Nobody wants to work anymore”, but few have attempted to properly diagnose and address the issue. Rather than trying to lament about the labor climate, we must find a solution.

As entrepreneurs, your ability to adapt is necessary to continue to grow your companies. The last couple of years have shown us that you never know when the next crisis is right around the corner, so every once in a while we need to rethink how we do things. Maybe it’s time to rethink how we approach labor? Here are a few things to try to fix your staffing issues, so you can keep up with demand and continue growing your business

Part-time or Temp Workers

You might have a hard time finding full-time workers, but an easier time finding part-time help. Why is this? One reason for the labor shortage is the fact that some parents find themselves in need of childcare. If part-time hours are offered, it could provide the flexibility needed for these people to return to the work force. This flexibility in the number of hours and scheduling could also attract people who are already employed, but want to take a part-time job to supplement their income. With this in mind, it might be easier and more practical for you to find multiple part-time employees to fill a single full-time role.

Similarly, you could contact an agency to hire temp help. Depending on the role you are looking to fill, this may or may not be a good option. On the one hand, there are many candidates who prefer temp work, so you could gain access to a larger pool of candidates. On the other hand, there is more turnover with temp workers, so if you have a position that requires a lot of training, this strategy might not work. However, if you find a temp worker that is a good fit, you could also offer them permanent employment.

Increase Wages or Enhance Benefits

Raising the starting salary will definitely increase your chances of finding a good hire. Wage inflation is already occurring at many positions throughout the country as employers feel pressure to compete with other companies to attract new personnel. If you are considering raising your wages, consider how it could impact your current staff. They will likely want to receive pay increases as well. If you happen to be paying overtime to fill a staff void, giving current employees a pay increase in lieu of overtime might make this a wash in terms of overhead cost. Just make sure to properly budget for payroll so you are not also threatening your profitability.

If you cannot offer higher wages, consider adding other employee benefits. Besides insurance, you can offer paid holidays, paid lunches on certain days, or staff appreciation events. You can also get creative and offer professional training and development opportunities. While some employers see this as training your staff to one day leave your company, it often works in reverse. While employees are adding to their skillset, they are also helping to advance your company. In turn, they also develop a greater appreciation and loyalty for their employer. While most job seekers are looking for the best possible salary, most also want to feel like they play an important role in their company so offering to help advance their knowledge could attract new applicants.

Staff Retention

If you are having a difficult time finding new employees, the last thing you need is to lose and existing one. Benefit enhancement and wage increases will certainly help with this, but so can other subtle changes. You could free your staff of menial, non-essential tasks. If it makes sense, you can supplement with automation. For example, in restaurants, where employees already work for relatively low wages, things like inventory and reservations can be managed by software solutions.

Schedule flexibility is also important when retaining employees. Work with your staff around their personal obligations such as appointments and child care. Just be cautious and pragmatic about this. If you are too flexible, you could end up leaving yourself short or causing conflicts between employees who may want the same day off.

Consider being more open with your employees as well. You can strengthen your relationship with your staff by having open communication and transparency. This can be accomplished by involving staff members in certain decisions, instead of keeping them in the dark. Letting them have a say will make them feel empowered and more a part of the company. This is not to say you should involve them in all decisions, but welcoming feedback, especially from key staff members could go a long way.

Creative Recruiting

If traditional recruiting methods are not working, try different ways of reaching potential applicants. Job descriptions have a tendency of being boring and repetitive, so try sprucing yours up a bit. Focus on the strengths and unique aspects of your business or benefits. Advertise through local colleges or community centers. Connect with different neighborhoods on social media to reach a larger and more diverse group of people.  Consider offering employees a referral bonus if a new hire that they refer stays with the company for 3 months or more.

While many people are searching for non-traditional jobs that are flexible and remote, you don’t have to be let out in the cold. Just as your business has to compete for customers, you must learn to do the same for employees. People are still looking for jobs, so use some of the aforementioned tips, or create your own methods of appealing to them. The labor market is shifting right before our very eyes and keeping up with the changes is critical.

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