Seven challenges that small business owners frequently face during the hiring process with solutions to overcome them.
Great employees are the lifeblood of any company, but finding and hiring the right people can be tricky for most small business owners.
This is doubly important for any small business owners; independently owned and operated companies can face a unique set of problems that larger firms or franchises often don’t.
Here are seven challenges that small business owners frequently face during the hiring process, as well as some ideas for overcoming them:
Difficulty Recruiting New Talent
The Problem: It’s not uncommon for independently-owned businesses to lack the market or web presence that larger companies have. Unless you operate out of a small town, it’s entirely possible for potential employees to be unaware that your company exists, even if they’re longtime residents of the area and are actively seeking a job in your industry.
Possible Solution: When small business owners want to hire new employees, don’t simply post the job listing online or put a “Help Wanted” sign in your front window.
Actively search for people you’d like to recruit on LinkedIn or Facebook and encourage your current employees to do the same. You can even offer a referral bonus to any employee who recommends someone that ends up being hired and working with the company for a set period of time—six months, a year, etc. When your workplace is short-handed, the employees bear the brunt of it. Thus, they have a vested interest in recommending potential coworkers that they can trust!
A disorganized or inconsistent interview/hiring process
The Problem: If more than one person is in charge of interviewing and hiring new employees, things can get a bit complicated.
Every manager looks for something slightly different in the candidates that he or she interviews, and something that seems like a major red flag to one person can seem like a relatively minor quirk to another. There’s also the issue of procedure; will higher-ups ever do on-the-spot interviews for folks who submit their application in person? Will you—as the owner of the business—ever make someone an offer immediately if their interview goes especially well?
Possible Solution: Make sure that everyone who could potentially interview or hire an applicant is on the same page. Try to have a list of standard questions that every interviewee is asked; while it’s okay to deviate a bit from this script so that the conversation flows naturally, being able to compare basic information will make things easier if you have multiple applicants for the same position.
At the very least, managers should be aware of what things you consider to be deal-breakers, as well as how long a potential hire should expect to wait for a solid “yes” or “no,” and what the next step is.
A lack of dedicated training programs
The Problem: When a new employee is hired at a large business or franchise, there is often some kind of corporate-provided training regimen in place to get them ready—this can include computer modules, remote facilities devoted specifically to training, direct supervision by the district hiring manager, and a highly-structured training program. Small businesses, on the other hand, tend to lack these resources, which means that getting new hires up to speed falls on senior employees or managers.
Possible Solution: Have some type of training resources available to new hires, even if it’s just a stapled packet and/or a section in the company’s employee handbook. It might also be helpful to figure out which of your staff members seem to have a knack for training “newbies” at various duties, and let them lead the way, even if the employee in question isn’t a manager or supervisor. A senior cashier, after all, may not know all the managerial duties, but he or she can certainly teach their new supervisors how to use the cash register!
And, of course, try to have new hires train during the business’s least busy hours—this can help prevent frustration for you, your employees, and your customers.
A smaller staff can lead to employees wearing many hats, whether they want to or not
The Problem: Small business owners may not have the luxury of hiring a dedicated staff member for every department or never asking employees to cross over and fulfill other duties. A cashier might need to get out from behind the register to help customers select products, and managers can’t be above taking out the trash or cleaning restrooms if the need arises.
Possible Solution: Be up-front and honest during the interview process about what a job will really entail. If a kennel tech might be required to answer phone calls or a line cook may be asked to wash dishes, then don’t keep this a secret; explain that a limited staff can only succeed if everyone is willing to pitch in. This will allow you to find employees who are willing to go above and beyond without feeling resentful…or quitting the first time you hand them a mop.
An inability to pay a very competitive wage
The Problem: Independently-operated businesses usually have a smaller profit margin than large companies. This can mean a smaller payroll budget, which can lead to lower-tier employees being paid less than they might be in a comparable position at a different company. Understandably, this arrangement can be a turnoff for potential new hires.
Possible Solution: Unless it’s absolutely unavoidable, avoid offering new hires minimum wage.
Instead, find out what the industry standard is for that particular position and keep it in mind; you might not need to pay employees handsomely, but you should at least pay them fairly. Be sure to emphasize—but don’t promise. the potential for advancement and pay raises if the employee consistently performs well.
You can also try to sell the applicant on the advantages of your business over others; for some people, being paid slightly less is acceptable if they can have the exact same work schedule week after week and/or don’t have to wear a uniform! Be sure to mention benefits, time off, and any other perks you’re able to offer.
The stakes being overall higher when it comes to selecting and keeping new employees
The Problem: When a new employee just doesn’t work out or quits very soon after starting, all of the time and resources that went into their recruitment, hiring and training essentially come to nothing. Although this happens in both large and small businesses, smaller companies tend to be hit much harder by it.
Possible Solution: Unfortunately, there’s no way to be 100 percent certain that a new hire will represent a significant return on your investment. It’s critical, then, to select an applicant who truly seems like the right fit for the job. Think about the kind of values that you want your company to represent and choose someone who shares these values—they’ll likely mesh better with their new coworkers and environment.
Choose someone who has a sincere answer when you ask, “Why do you want to work with us?” This will help you weed out candidates who won’t be happy in their position and will burn out quickly. And, perhaps a bit paradoxically, don’t be afraid to hire someone who will require a lot of training. If you get a genuine sense that applicants are willing to learn, eager to grow and possess great attitudes, then they may just surprise you with how quickly they catch on.The employee recruitment and hiring process is no joke; it can truly be one of the factors that makes or breaks your company. For this reason, Staff One HR prides itself on offering small businesses our expertise in this department. Whether you need assistance with writing the perfect job description to pique an applicant’s interest, conducting pre-employment screening on prospective employees, or something else entirely, our recruitment support specialists can help you find—and keep—the right person for the job!