Having Trouble Finding Employees? These 5 Tips Can Help

Are you a handyman who needs a helping hand?

An accountant who needs to balance the workload?

A landscaper whose business is growing?

If so, that’s not surprising. As the U.S. emerges from the pandemic, small businesses across the country are getting busier, which is leading to a demand for more help.

A March 2021 survey by the National Federation of Independent Business found that 42% of small business owners had job openings that they couldn’t fill.

Typically, creating jobs for an economy where millions of people have been laid off or furloughed would be a good thing. But the same survey reported that 91% of those businesses looking to hire saw few or no qualified candidates.

While medium and large companies can often spread the work from open positions among many staff members, small businesses don’t always have that advantage.

Not having an extra pair of hands can potentially mean missing out on landing a big client, securing a key project, or just being able to keep your head above water to take care of other aspects of your business.

Here are some ideas that can help you find some help.

How to Find & Hire Employees in a Post-COVID World

1. Increase wages and salaries.

OK, this probably isn’t truly an earth-shattering suggestion. But for a small business, especially one that’s been buffeted by months of COVID-related uncertainty, increasing wages may seem like a budget-shattering suggestion.

The cost of raising wages vs. the cost of not raising them.

Hiring employees costs more than just what you’re paying them. You have to write a job description, advertise the position, sift through the resumes and applications, set up interviews, and follow up with candidates. All that costs time, which can also translate into costing money.

There’s also the increasing risk of your new hire simply not showing up, or “ghosting” you. No-shows are on the rise with 28% of candidates surveyed having ghosted an employer, up from only 18% in 2019. When that happens, you’re back to square one and spending more time and money to find help.

That has led some small business owners to take a different view of raising the pay for their employees. For many, it’s not just a feel-good gesture — it can actually make good business sense.

Some small businesses that offer higher-than-average wages see an increase in applications, which is something you’d expect. However, they’ve also seen other benefits you might not have expected.

Increased wages can attract better candidates, which can help decrease the likelihood of no-shows and reduce turnover. It also can benefit your current employees by boosting morale, which can result in better performance and customer service.

Along the same lines as increased wages are hiring bonuses. While these are often used by larger companies with deeper financial resources, they can now be more affordable for some small businesses that may be able to take advantage of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit if they meet certain requirements/criteria. It’s always best to check with a tax or accountant professional if you have questions about your specific business and qualifications.

2. Cast a wider net.

If you’re looking for help, there’s a good chance your competitors are as well. One tactic to consider is looking for workers where others are not.

For example, new job seekers who are right out of school or people looking to make a career change. What they may lack in experience is often made up for with enthusiasm and motivation — both of which can translate into employees who will perform well and be more likely to stay with you.

Another source of candidates can be more experienced workers. Many are underemployed and experienced a higher rate of job loss during COVID than younger workers. There’s also research that shows these workers are likely to be more productive and reliable.

3. Offer enticing benefits.

When it comes to benefits, most people think about life, health, and dental insurance. These can be important to prospective employees, but they also can be expensive for many small businesses.

Employee healthcare coverage isn’t the only way to attract good candidates. A little creativity can go a long way here. For instance, you could consider working with other small business owners, suppliers, and distributors to offer a network of discounts for all of the people all of you employ.

If you happen to be a season-ticket holder for a sports team or a museum member, you may be able to share tickets and passes with your employees depending on the rules where you’re located.

Depending on your type of business, you also could look at offering flexible hours or work-at-home options. Even if only some of your business activities can be done online, such as billing, accounting, and other administrative tasks, you may be able to let someone work on them remotely.

4. Show a commitment to employee safety.

According to Jobvite’s 2021 Job Seeker Nation Report, 58% of candidates would decline a job opportunity if the employer did not have clear COVID-19 protocols in place.

Given that, putting safety measures in place and ensuring that potential hires know about those measures could increase interest in your job openings and make you more competitive among job seekers.

Safety measures (e.g., social distancing rules, staggered shifts, reduced customer capacity, face mask policy, enhanced cleaning procedures) will likely differ, based on what type of business you have. Still, specifying what they are in both your job postings and interviews can clearly communicate to potential employees that you’re committed to their safety.

You also can consider highlighting your business insurance, workers compensation, and any other coverage you may have. This can help reassure potential employees that you’re committed to offering a healthy, well-protected organization for them.

Get Insured in Under 10 Minutes

Get an affordable and customized policy in just minutes. So you can get back to what matters: Your business.

5. Share your mission.

There’s a good chance you started your business as more than just a way to make a living. Maybe it was your lifelong dream. Perhaps you saw a way to make things better that no one else saw. Or you wanted to create jobs for others as well as yourself.

People are often more motivated by why you do what you do than they are by what you do. According to a recent study, 79% of people would consider a company’s mission and purpose before applying.

You can use your “why” as a way to differentiate your company from your competitors’ and to connect with potential employees who may share the same beliefs.

A Good Problem to Have

When you’re swamped with orders, buried with requests, or overwhelmed by incoming calls and emails, it can be hard to remember that this is what you wanted.

The need to hire people means your business is growing. You’re succeeding.

While we focus on providing insurance for small businesses, we also believe in sharing information and insights that can help businesses like yours enjoy all the good problems that come with success.

Finding the right people to hire takes some creativity. It takes patience. It takes hard work, and it takes some luck. Just like everything else in running a small business.

Ed Grasso

As a 9-year-old at summer camp, I hated it — especially after being pulled screaming from the pool during the swimming competition. While this left me without an aquatic achievement patch, it also inspired the letter to my parents that got me an early release from Camp Willard. That showed me the power of writing. I’ve done my best to use it only for good ever since, such as writing helpful articles for small business owners.

Ed writes on a number of topics such as liability insurance, small business funding, and employee management.