Layoffs Increase, and Main Street is still Unable to Fill Any Open Positions With Employees

With growing wages and more states and municipalities publishing compensation ranges, which might make small firms appear even less attractive from a salary viewpoint, it's much more difficult in today's competitive labor market.
On May 9, 2022, an IN-N-OUT fast food restaurant in Encinitas, California, has a sign on its window that reads, "Now hiring."

Small business owners typically don't compete on the same level as larger corporations when it comes to paying.

With growing wages and more states and municipalities publishing compensation ranges, which might make small firms appear even less attractive from a salary viewpoint, it's much more difficult in today's competitive labor market.

Given that small firms are continuing to hire despite the economy's slowdown and the difficulty of finding employees isn't improving, the stakes are extremely high. According to a survey conducted in October by employee scheduling platform Homebase, 86% of small business owners intend to add one or more employees in the upcoming year or two. The primary trade association for small businesses, the National Federation of Independent Business, stated this week that Main Street confidence had fallen for ten straight months, with little change in the demand for hiring additional staff.

Bill Dunkelberg, the chief economist at the NFIB, stated in a release accompanying the organization's most recent monthly survey that "owners continue to express a depressing perspective about future sales growth and business conditions, but are still looking to hire additional workers." "Many small businesses continue to struggle to meet the demand for their goods and services due to inflation, supply chain interruptions, and labor shortages."

According to a separate employment report by the NFIB, 90% of business owners who were hiring said there were few or no qualified candidates for the open positions.

Here are five strategies small companies can use to level the playing field and draw top candidates.

Feature More Than Just Salaries in the Window

Jim Marx, director of the retirement plans group at Edelman Financial Services, recently passed a convenience shop that had a window advertisement for "competitive benefits," emphasizing amenities like the business' retirement plan, medical benefits, and student loan aid program. "I was shocked to see that. They were emphasizing the fact that they wanted to attract top talent, which is evident from what they stated, he said.

The key takeaway: Small firms must ensure that applicants understand the advantages of joining them in addition to a starting salary that has probably already increased.

Benefits should be highlighted in job descriptions and covered in every interview, throughout onboarding, and during training, according to Kayla Lebovits, CEO and creator of Bundle Benefits, a fully remote business that prioritizes health, professional development, and team building. A candidate will assume something is fake if it is only listed in the job description and not promoted during the interview process.

Engage Current Employees in The Hiring Process

Lebovits believes that inviting candidates who actively utilize the company's many benefits to participate in the interview process is successful. Candidates will have a practical understanding of how advantages like the company's home equipment grant and co-working membership subsidies function.

"Employees take advantage of these low-cost things," according to Lebovits.

Since it sets the tone for the future, having an open discussion about perks and learning what is important to candidates is essential. According to Victoria Hodgkins, CEO of PeopleKeep, a provider of benefits administration software, "it signals that the candidate is vital to the corporation." "Candidates want to know that in this work setting, and it provides them an opportunity to enquire and learn more."

Examine Employee Utilization Trends and Take Advantage of Well-Liked Perks

Small firms typically lack the financial resources to provide the entire range of perks that giant corporations can, but they can provide a variety of really desirable benefits that staff members frequently take advantage of. Define what people are actually utilizing, and those are the products you should be pushing because it is obvious that people value those products the most, advised Lebovits.

Notably, retirement, health, and welfare benefits can significantly increase employees' financial stability. According to a Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies study from October, while the majority of workers believe these benefits are crucial, there is a big discrepancy between the percentage of workers who say this and the percentage whose companies provide it. This gives an opportunity for businesses to make their wage and benefits packages more competitive while also assisting their staff in achieving more long-term financial security, according to the report.

In general, people are also quite interested in health advantages. According to a recent survey conducted by TalentLMS, a learning management system backed by Epignosis, and financial wellness firms Tapcheck and Enrich, a sizable majority of employees, 68%, said that they are more likely to stay longer at their current job if their employer offers financial wellness benefits. According to the report, 61% of workers are more inclined to stick with their present employer if they are given access to financial wellness training and resources.

Parental leave is a further significant benefit to take into account. According to a recent survey by disability insurance provider Breeze, most workers would rather have paid parental leave than eye insurance, paid social events, paid fitness or mental health benefits, or a college loan repayment benefit. In the study, 1,000 adults between the ages of 22 and 40 who were actively working were included.

Avoid Adopting a "Benefits are Equal" Philosophy

It's crucial to provide a variety of advantages that can appeal to various demographics.

For instance, Lebovits advised employers to provide many alternatives for staff to unwind rather than only yoga, meditation, or gym benefits. "People take extremely different care of themselves."

And while the Breeze survey discovered that among workers under 40, parental leave was more popular than vision insurance, that may alter as they reach the "reading glasses age."

Depending on the employee's gender, age, and type of workplace, the advantages that appeal to them may range significantly.

In comparison to men, who place 49% less importance on mental health benefits, women place 70% more importance on them, according to a PeopleKeep poll conducted in May of more than 900 small business employees. Men place more value on the internet and phone bill reimbursement than women do (40% to 32%), while women value flexible work schedules more than men do (84% to 70%), paid family leave is valued more by men than women (61% to 73%), and professional development is valued more by men than women (64% to 57%).

Make Current Employees Sources of Referrals

If your current employees are content, they'll be more inclined to refer others to the organization for an available position. This entails ensuring that current workers are enthusiastic about the perks you provide, and in order to get there, you must ensure that workers are engaged.

In a recent survey by Edelman Financial, 62% of participants claimed they "don't always feel represented" in their company's benefits communications. Women express the attitude more strongly than males do (68% of women say they do not always feel included, compared to 58% of men).

The survey discovered that an overwhelming 93% of workers who don't always feel represented indicated they'd be more willing to use financial wellness help if it was tailored to their unique background and family situations.

Finally, small firms must comprehend what draws candidates to their positions in the first place and highlight these benefits in all of their discussions with applicants. According to Homebase, a sense of community was mentioned by 70% of small firms, followed by workplace flexibility (69%), close relationships with coworkers (66%) and closer relationships with management (53%).

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