Attracting Talent in a Tight Job Market: Guide for Small Businesses

Despite signs that the job market is starting to cool, small businesses are still trying to hire and retain employees. According to a recent Goldman Sachs survey, over a third of small businesses believe hiring challenges have worsened in recent months. At the same time, a majority cite attracting and keeping talent as their biggest problem.

What’s driving the difficulty in obtaining employees? Likely, it’s lots of competition. Most employers raised wages in response to inflation, and workers have many options. There are also more opportunities for flexible working arrangements, which are attractive to employees who need to care for family members.

Small businesses can improve their hiring efforts and make themselves more desirable to candidates by following a few tips.

  1. Take a Holistic Look at Your Benefits Package

It’s no secret that small businesses often don’t have the funding to pay for expensive work perks like on-site gyms and cafeterias. In some cases, they may not even be able to afford more traditional benefits, like health insurance or a 401(k) match.

However, offering a benefits package is paramount if you intend to attract and keep employees high-performing. At a minimum, you should provide health care, a dental plan, a retirement option, and vacation time. 

If purchasing a health care plan on its own is too expensive, consider working with a company that negotiates small business benefit plans with larger organizations. 

Frequently, outsourced HR companies like Focus HR can obtain deals on insurance plans that your small business might need help with and rival those available at larger companies.

  1. Offer Opportunities for Growth and Learning

Most employees don’t seek to stay in the same role for years. They’re looking for growth and want a chance to expand their knowledge in leadership positions.

You can meet their needs by offering ways to develop their skills. You can ask your senior-level team members to provide more mentorship opportunities such as including lower-level employees in important meetings or tasks.  

Improving your on-the-job skills training benefits your employees and helps you have someone ready to take the reins if someone decides to leave.

You can also offer your workers a stipend for learning and skill-building sites like Coursera. Coursera offers university-level and professional development classes in various topics, including IT, business, and personal development.

Focus HR offers a training portal for its clients, providing access to hundreds of video-based training modules for on-going staff development.

  1. Consider Flexible Working Arrangements

Many small businesses have made the transition back to an in-person work environment. However, flexibility still ranks very high among the best work benefits, and employers who can offer some form of remote work are more attractive to workers. 

If your business requires on-site workers, that doesn’t mean you can’t provide alternative working hours or the ability to log in from home on occasion. 

Some employers have found that moving to a four-day work week is highly beneficial. Employees extend their hours on their working days and enjoy a three-day weekend every other week.

You can also allow employees to choose their start time. Some workers prefer an early start to their day, while others like beginning a bit later. 

  1. Free Coffee or Tea Stipend

Nothing gets the juices flowing like a caffeinated beverage. If you have employees who can’t get through the day without a cuppa joe, consider offering them a monthly gift card from their favorite coffee shop. You can recharge the gift card with a specific monthly amount, allowing them to save money on their typical morning breakfast.

If you have an employee who isn’t partial to caffeine, find out where they like to eat on their lunch break, and set up a similar arrangement. 

Employees often complain about how expensive it is to eat out while away from home. You can mitigate their expenses and have them looking forward to working with your organization.

  1. Year-End Bonus

Most people spend a lot of money during the holidays. Presents for family, keeping up with holiday parties, and vacations can all take their toll on the pocketbook. You can relieve some expenses during the holiday season by granting your workers a bonus.

Most employers tie their bonuses to yearly company profits. If your organization meets its profit goals, you can reward your employees’ efforts with a timely check, right when they need it the most.

Remain Competitive by Staying Relevant

In a tight job market, you’re not only competing with other small businesses but much larger organizations that have the funding to offer employees higher salaries and benefits packages. Take a look at what your business offers, and then add your personal touch to stand out from other companies.

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