How Small Businesses Can Overcome the Staff ShortageInventive ways to attract employees even in testing times

Around 50% of small UK businesses are looking to recruit new workers in 2021.

However, a significant labour shortage has hit many sectors in the UK, with 70% of companies struggling to hire employees in the second quarter of the year.

How can small businesses ensure they remain sufficiently staffed while there is so much competition for workers?

Strategies that can help with staffing issues include offering incentives to attract candidates, reaching a larger audience through creative advertising, and making the most of your current workforce, all of which we’ll delve into in this piece.

Offer financial incentives

Offering higher wages is a logical step in attracting new talent when competition for workers is high. However, not every business is able to stretch their budget to offer significantly better wages.

Other types of bonuses and benefits can work out cheaper than pay increases and still help attract new employees.

Consider awarding limited-time bonus payments to new recruits, relocation bonuses for remote employees willing to make the move, and performance bonuses for top-performing staff members.

You could even incentivise more people to attend interviews by offering small perks such as raffle entries and vouchers.

Offer flexible hours

Many employees value a good work-life balance and flexible working hours more than high wages. This is true for shift workers and salaried employees alike.

Flexibility is especially important for parents and carers who need to juggle work with significant responsibilities at home.

Being proactively accommodating to the needs of these workers can help you reach many skilled and highly motivated candidates who might not otherwise have considered a position in your company.

Shift workers also appreciate greater flexibility in their working hours. To attract more candidates, do your best to factor in staff preferences when scheduling shifts. A smart employee scheduling app can do a lot of the heavy lifting by streamlining the process and making shift swapping among staff easy.

Reach a larger pool of candidates

Cast your net wider to attract a larger number of applicants. Start by reviewing your job description and requirements. Are there any skills in the job description that could be taught relatively easily on the job?

Explore alternatives to standard recruitment avenues too. Hiring an intern provides an extra worker for a short period and a potential future recruit.

Meanwhile, training an apprentice is an affordable investment for the future of your business, thanks to the government offering financial assistance that covers as much as 95% of the training fees.

Hiring agency workers or ‘temps’ could also help your business weather serious staffing gaps while you’re searching for a longer-term solution.

Be creative with advertising

If you’re not getting enough applications, you may need to diversify your advertising efforts to reach a larger audience.

If there is an advertising avenue you haven’t tried yet—social media, staffing agencies, local organisations, or recruitment tools like SearchMonster—try adding that to the mix.

Social media can be very effective, especially if combined with video job ads. Research shows that potential candidates spend 316% more time looking at a job description when it’s in video format compared to a text-based advert.

Word of mouth can be another powerful way to find new staff. You could offer cash bonuses or other perks to your current employees for successful referrals.

Even your customers can be incentivised with money-off vouchers or other rewards to spread the word about a job opening to their friends and family.

Optimise your current workforce

Finally, another way to lessen the impact of the labour shortage is to make the most out of your current workforce, starting with investing in staff retention.

The last thing you want is to lose experienced workers while recruitment is difficult. Thankfully, the same things that attract new employees—better wages and/or benefits, training opportunities and flexible working arrangements—also increase staff satisfaction and retention rates.

If your company struggles with a skills shortage in particular, investing in training and updating the skills of your existing employees can help correct the problem at a cost comparable to recruiting new employees.

Embracing new technologies and automating routine administration tasks can free those employees to focus more fully on tackling the more challenging tasks at the workplace.

Start scheduling your staff online.

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