Here’s the good news:
U.S. small businesses are feeling a little optimism in 2016. According to the State of Small Business Report, 71 percent of them expect to increase revenue this year, and half of them plan to hire new employees.
Here’s the bad news:
Half of them cite hiring new employees as one of the top challenges they’ll face this year.
Their concern is supported by a recent National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) report that revealed, 85 percent of those trying to hire reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill, even with large numbers of Americans looking for work.
The numbers don’t look good from the employee side, either.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5.4 million workers were hired in December 2015, but 5.1 million lost jobs due to layoffs, firings or other separations.
Of the lost job group, 61 percent of them (3.1 million) did so voluntarily by quitting.
No wonder hiring (and retention) is a top challenge.
Maybe it's time for all of us in small business to change the way we think about employment.
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It’s Time to Change the Way You Think About Your Employees
While money is tight for all small businesses, we have to invest in people.
It’s much more cost effective to keep good employees than to hire new ones, so 2016 is a good time to make sure your people are well cared for.
Did you notice that 3.1 million people quit their jobs in December 2015?
There’s no way of knowing if these were good employees who found greener pastures or bad employees who quit before management had a chance to fire them.
However, according to human resources expert Amy Marcum, good employees walk away for a few reasons:
- They’re motivated by higher pay.
- They’re not engaged.
- They’re bored.
- They’re poorly managed.
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FedEx, which started out as a small business, has always gone above and beyond to retain good employees, so much so that the company’s mantra is “People-Service-Profit.” As CEO Fred Smith said, “When people are placed first they will provide the highest possible service, and profits will follow.”
There are a few easy things you can do to show employees you’re putting them first:
Ask questions and act on responses.
One way to start the process of putting your people first is to use an anonymous satisfaction survey to learn what your people think about things like your business’ culture, opportunities for advancement, training needs and other business practices.
Use this data to make whatever adjustments are needed to support your employees.
Analyze your salaries and benefits.
You’re going to have to pay top-notch talent well, but keep in mind a higher salary isn’t always the main reason people look for other employment.
You can address company culture and management issues through the previously mentioned survey, but you should also be prepared to address competitive benefits beyond the basic insurance and retirement savings plans.
Perks such as flex time, telecommuting, casual dress codes, and training programs can often influence the decision to stay or go.
Let your employees know how much you value them.
Employee recognition programs do more than just reduce turnover, they also increase performance and improve team culture.
Make it a habit to publicly celebrate successes and thank people for their efforts.
Build their future.
A high-performing employee will burn out quickly if she thinks she’s in a dead-end job with no future.
Employees need to feel like they are being challenged and are moving forward in terms of professional growth and development, so it’s important that you proactively talk with them about their career and future with your company.
Provide opportunities for them to learn new skills and participate in training programs. Promote from within and move people up through the ranks rather than looking for outside talent.
It’s Time to Change the Way You Think About Job Descriptions and Applicants
When you do need outside talent for new hires, it may be a good idea to reconsider all your preconceived notions about applicants and job descriptions.
Don’t write off older candidates.
It may take a little investment in training to update some skills, but they have years of proven experience that can really help your business.
Take a second look at your job descriptions as well.
Is a college degree really necessary for the job, or are experience and aptitude more important? Keep in mind neither Steve Jobs or Bill Gates ever earned a degree.
Related Article: Super Sneaky Recruiting Tips You've Never Considered
Skyrocketing tuition costs have prevented many Americans from pursuing or completing college degrees, and unfortunately, employers who are sold on the “degree required” belief are writing off many intelligent, motivated and capable workers.