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Four Common Hiring Challenges That Small Businesses Shouldn't Be Afraid of At All

One of the biggest themes as I speak to Small Business owners about their hiring is how scary, confusing, and challenging hiring can be.

It's just a big ball of fear and negativity because everyone thinks hiring sucks.

OK, maybe sometimes hiring does suck.

But, being the optimist that I am, I don't want you to be overwhelmed by negativity if you are getting ready to hire someone.

Now I assure you: I don't have my head in the sand. Hiring employees in a tight labor market as a small business has its challenges. No doubt about it.

However I believe firmly that you can turn these challenges into amazing opportunities to recruit the best people for your business. Let's look at four common challenges and find some ways to flip the narrative.

1. Small Businesses can't pay as much as big Enterprises.

There's no denying that big companies usually have deeper pockets. They also have advantages in terms of economies of scale, so offering some benefits and perks is more possible than it would be for a small business.

What you have to understand, though, is that money is usually not at the top of the list in terms of why someone would leave a job or accept one job over the other. In fact over the past five years that I've been reading about it, money is usually 4th or 5th on the list of professionals surveyed as to their reasoning for leaving or taking a new position. Sometimes it doesn't even make the top ten. So many other factors are more important including: work challenges, work/Life balance, work with meaning, and having a great boss.

I encourage you to create jobs that provide both a living wage as well as a competitive wage in your market. Then focus on the many other factors that make people love where they work, so that you can attract and retain the best people for your business.

Money truly is not everything, so do not get sidetracked by that challenge.

2. Small businesses "wing it" when it comes to goals, expectations, career paths, and earning potential.

This is true, and mostly because small businesses are in fact small, and their size just doesn't warrant the kind of systems and process management that a large or even medium sized company would be required to have to remain organized and profitable.

If there's one thing I want to encourage you to do in your business in general and in hiring in particular, is to adopt even the most simple systems and processes that you use over and over again. What do I mean by this? Here are some examples:

  • Clearly define each job you hire for: not just Knowledge, Skills and Abilities, but also the Goals and Expectations for success in the position. Have a new hire work with a mentor or manager to ensure they understand the expectations and are regularly reviewed for progress.

  • Have a basic plan for a new hire's first day, first week, and first month. Have a schedule, check points, lunch buddies and mentors. Make a chart and fill in the names and who is responsible and do it the same (or basically the same) way every time you hire someone new.

  • Establish core competencies or soft skills you want to see in all of your employees. Figure out how to interview and test for these skills in the hiring process, and do it the same way every time. Think of ideas to grow these skills as well: workshops, online learning, team competitions or activities are all ways to continually develop the skills and the relationships you want to foster in your company culture.

  • Give some thoughts to how each job could grow by creating some ideas for promotions or growth for each position in your company. Right now if you have only a few staff this could seem like a dream, but keep in mind that someone won't want to be your assistant forever. Think about where this job could go and keep a good record of your ideas.

  • Create an annual rhythm of employee reviews, checking in, "stay interviews," and mentoring. Even the simplest of reviews, done regularly, can help people understand where they stand and what they need to do to succeed or improve.

  • Keep diligent records and measure what is working and not working by following how you get new hires, what you do while you have them, and how and why they leave.

"If you can not measure it, you can not improve it."~William Thomson, Lord Kelvin
  • Reward great performance with money (yes, give people a raise every year for heaven's sake!), recognition, bonuses or prizes, but mostly with more and more challenges that ignite their passion.

3. In a small, tight-knit business, it can be tough to give and receive honest feedback.

If there are only four of you in the office, and two of you are the bosses, it could be tough for one of your employees to give you the constructive criticism you need and deserve.

Take the time to establish lines of communication, and encourage people to express feedback and ideas in a polite and positive way.

Becoming an active and positive communicator is absolutely an essential skill for any manager, especially a business owner.

Make sure you are not cultivating a culture of fear, or blowing off ideas. Always respect your employees' perspectives and help them to learn to express their ideas in constructive ways so that everyone can enjoy a peaceful place to work.

4. Small businesses lack the brand recognition needed to give them an edge in recruiting.

OK I get it, your business is no Amazon or Google. But never fear--the people who belong at Amazon will work at Amazon, and your people will come to you. Why?

For so many reasons!

  • Small teams feel more like family. Or sometimes they literally ARE your family, and that's amazing too.

  • A potential recruit wants to work directly for the person who makes the business decisions for the company, not a mid-level manager in a company that can rise or fall on the whims of Wall Street.

  • Working at a small business may simply feel less complex and less stressful.

  • You have a vested interest in your local community and people admire that and want to be part of what you are doing.

  • You have clearly communicated who you are to the right audience, so they want to be part of it.

All the brand recognition in the world doesn't amount to a hill of beans compared to a well-thought-out recruiting strategy that targets the people who are perfect for your jobs.

Small businesses continue to consistently create 80% of the new jobs in the USA. If you own a small business, what you are doing now to create work in your community is absolutely VITAL to your local economy, and in turn the national and global economy. Never be ashamed of that--embrace being small!

Want even more help with hiring? Sign up to get my Guide to Interviewing Like a Boss, a free eBook with tons of ideas and interview questions to use now. Click here to sign up. I'll pop in your email inbox from time to time with other new ideas and updates on the blog.

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