Six Small Business Tips to Stay Competitive and Attract Skilled Talent

While the global employee shortage remains a pain point for businesses — no matter their size, industry or region — the majority of small business owners in the United States report difficulties finding qualified applicants.

According to the National Federation of Independent Business’s (NFIB) monthly economic report for January 2023, 41% of small business owners surveyed by the organization reported job openings that were hard to fill — down three points from November 2022, but remaining historically very high.

For small business owners that run on tight profit margins and a handful of key positions to keep the company running smoothly, filling open positions amid this labor crunch is all about remaining competitive. Many entrepreneurs are turning to inventive solutions — like enhanced benefits, flexible work arrangements and investing in their employees and businesses — to attract and retain skilled talent.

Help your small business — and your current employees’ workloads — during this challenging time by experimenting with some of the following labor shortage solutions.

Invigorate Your Compensation and Benefits Packages

Compensation is a major factor in attracting and retaining employees. By paying your employees well and offering them a unique portfolio of benefits, you’re giving them incentive to choose your company over others and stay longer once they’ve accepted the job.

When updating your salary offerings, look at your current compensation plan and compare it to similar businesses in your region. A cost of living calculator can help you make accurate adjustments based on the costs of housing, transportation and other factors. Many states have raised, or are in the process of adjusting, their minimum wage in 2023, so take that into consideration before updating your salary offering.

Even if you increase your salary offers, competition for talent can be fierce. While pay is an important factor, it isn’t the only one job seekers take into consideration when evaluating new career opportunities. Competitive small businesses can attract new talent by incorporating the following tips into their recruitment strategy:

  • Offer flexibility with work arrangements – The pandemic and rise of the remote workforce demonstrated that many jobs can be performed just as well from the comfort of home as in an office. There are considerable signs that our largest employee generation — Millennials — want remote work and its work-life balance benefits to stay. While your small business might not be able to support a fully remote team, offering hybrid solutions and flexible start times can help your small business attract employees.
  • Prioritize employee wellness – Workers are seeking employers who are interested in their employees’ wellbeing. Tools to attract talent include providing employees with opportunities for financial wellness — such as online education, budgeting tools and matching 401(k) contributions — as well as mental health and physical wellness programs. When your employees feel healthier and happier, they perform better, too.
  • Make time for employee development and training – Foster excitement and professional motivation around your business operations by providing employees with opportunities for growth and development. Employee development and training helps retain employees while increasing their skills and value to the company. It can also heighten employee engagement, performance and job satisfaction.
  • Foster a positive company culture – Creating a positive and supportive work environment can help retain employees and attract new hires that are a good cultural fit. Employees who feel like they’re a good match with their organization have greater job satisfaction and are likely to stay longer. Plus, a positive company culture can help enhance your company’s reputation.
  • Utilize technology and automation – Automating repetitive tasks can help free up employee time for more critical work while making the company more efficient. If your business is overwhelmed by emails that need timely replies, consider implementing an automated responder that lets them know someone from the team will be in touch shortly. Incorporating technology and automation into your small business can increase employee morale and enhance work accuracy. Small business tasks you can consider automating include workflow, customer service, scheduling and social media management.
  • Protect your employees with proper workers’ compensation – Everyone wants to know that their employer cares about them and values their safety and wellbeing. Carrying appropriate workers’ compensation insurance can provide them with peace of mind in the event of a job-related injury or illness, increasing employee satisfaction and trust in the company.

Many companies face unprecedented challenges in finding enough workers to fill open jobs. While this will take considerable time to address on a national level, small businesses that implement these strategies can stay ahead of the labor shortage, remain competitive and attract skilled talent.

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