If you’re the owner of a restaurant, retail shop or hospitality venue, you’re probably turning the page on the restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic and are now trying to keep up with a year’s worth of pent-up demand from eager customers. To meet this demand, you’re possibly looking at adding staff but may be finding it difficult to fill your open slots.
From supercharged federal unemployment benefits to lingering hesitations around the pandemic from job-seekers, these pressures are making it tough to find enough people to fill all of the suddenly-available positions. It’ll be important for you to stand out and entice potential workers to your business in an increasingly competitive labor market.
Use incentives to attract applicants
On paper, the simplest way to attract more applicants during a tight labor market is by offering more money, so take some time to evaluate your wage structure. Is it in line with your competitors? Does your pay scale reflect the realities of the market?
Of course, raising wages really isn’t that simple. It requires ample planning and preparation because it can impact everything from the prices of your goods and services to your bottom line. Plus, it’s a long-term commitment to a way of doing business, and it’s not the right fit for everyone.
If the idea of higher wages is something you don’t feel is sustainable for your shop, another option would be to explore offering one-time, hiring bonuses to entice applicants. The promise of a lump financial sum could spur many applicants to look twice at your business. Be sure to require a commitment from the new employee to work for a certain period of time before they receive the bonus to minimize anyone from taking advantage of the offer and bailing on you.
Embrace empathy as an asset
As a small business owner, you’ve surely felt the pressures of the past year, and you’re not alone. Everyone has been dealing with the uncertainty of the pandemic in some way, so embrace an employee-centric approach to hiring and retaining workers. Remember, many people want to find a job, but are juggling other obligations and responsibilities, such as child care and school.
As such, consider exploring adaptability when developing schedules. For instance, empower employees to choose what shifts they want rather than you or a manager assigning them. You also could consider breaking up shifts into two blocks of time during a typical day to add flexibility for workers who might need it.
Commit to staying safe
In the retail and restaurant industries, your employees will be interacting with the public on a daily basis, and many people are still concerned about protecting themselves and their families. Be open and transparent with them during the hiring process about your plans to keep them safe.
For instance, share with them your policies on mask-wearing and sanitation. Consider offering paid time off for employees who want to get vaccinated (you’ll likely get a tax credit for doing so!), and if an employee gets sick, make sure you have the right protocol in place to properly handle it.
This enables you to replace potential employees’ safety concerns with certainty and assurance. This can help you attract – and retain – employees.
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