Successful Small Business Hiring in a Tight Labor Market

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Successful Small Business Hiring in a Tight Labor Market

There’s no denying it. The labor market is tight. Getting the right employees continues to get more difficult. The current unemployment rate in the US is now 3.7% (http://bit.ly/2GG0CqI). The lowest it’s been in years. While that’s a great thing for the economy and workers, it makes hiring (especially as a small business) much more difficult. 

With your company growing and needing to expand staff, I bet you’re finding it increasingly difficult to find the right people. And so you’re tempted to bring in that person that’s not a perfect” fit and hope for the best. (I sure hope you’re not looking at your hiring that way…especially as a smaller business owner, but I get it if you are.) In a business like yours, the wrong hire can do a great deal of damage. When the wrong person is one of 500 or 1000, their impact is muted. But when they are one of 10 or 25 people, it can have a tremendous impact. They can noticeably damage product and service quality, hurt your customer relationships, cause employee dissention, and plenty of other ills you may not even anticipate.

By continuing to only hire the people who best fit your organization, you will avoid these distractions and business-destroying issues. In addition, you will maintain your reputation as a high-quality place to work and more attract more of those good workers (who value working with other good people). But how can you maintain your standards AND hire the people you need? Here are some dos and don’ts you need to consider as the leader of a smaller organization. 

DO work to keep the good employees you have now.

As with customers, it’s always better to keep the good ones you have versus going pout and finding new ones. You know who your top performers are. Make sure you know how they are feeling and what they are thinking. Think about ways to keep them happy and productive. A tight labor market could draw good talent away from you.

DON’T lower your standards.

Hiring good people in this market can be exhausting. It can be tempting to lower your standards and just hire to fill positions. After all, having the right numbers of people has to be better, right? Wrong. Having the rightpeople is much more important. Stick to your standards. The wrong people will hurt your products and services and will begin to erode your reputation and your brand. And those are hard to rebuild. It’s just not worth it.

DO emphasize your non-financial perks. 

It may sometimes feel like you’re fighting a losing battle. After all, there are bigger companies that can often pay more or offer more perks like insurance, retirement savings plans, and maybe more generous vacation time. But remember that you have some perks too. Some that the big companies typically can’t match. Use what you have going for you. Smaller businesses can often offer more schedule flexibility. You can offer a more personal, pleasant environment. Individuals can usually take on additional responsibilities – and not get trapped in a rigidly-defined job description. The right people will find these attractive. And while they may not replace a higher-paycheck, they can offer an improved quality of life that can offset a lower salary.

DO get your current good employees involved in finding good people. 

Look to those great team members (you know the ones you wish you could clone) and enlist them to help you find others like them. They will appreciate the compliment – and will like the idea of working around good people they help select. Good people want to work around other good people – and they might be willing to help you find them. Offering them a financial incentive can help too. 

DO be efficient and clear about who you want to hire. 

Sometimes the hiring process can become more difficult than it needs to be. Be clear about the skills and the characteristics you are looking for. This will help you avoid wasting your time (and the time of candidates that just aren’t a fit).

DON’T rely on the same methods you used a few years ago. 

The economy is very different now. Competition for the best employees is fierce. You can’t just post a job and have tons of great candidates flock to you. You have to be aggressive and use some other methods. Don’t overlook anything.

DO prioritize your real needs.

Identify the most important positions you need to hire for and place more of your energy there. Is it more critical to hire and new top-notch salesperson or your seventh bookkeeper. In an ideal world you’d hire both. In a tight job market, you might need to focus on one.

I’m not a recruiter or an HR specialist. But I do know business leadership and strategy. And one thing I believe is that tough times can make us make the wrong decisions. And since the labor market is SO tight right now, hiring good people for your small or mid-sized business can be a huge challenge. Just be careful not to make the wrong choices and start hiring people who are just not a good fit. It can and will harm your organization.

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I LOVE to help leaders improve and businesses grow!

your organization has a solid path to the future. Please feel free to reach out and get in touch and let’s explore how I can help you and your business succeed. No pressure. Just an informal discussion to explore some ideas.

You can contact me on our Contact Us page, call me at (713) 907-8429, or email me at BCohen@IDiscoverConsulting.com.

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