You’re in a pickle. You’ve got new contracts ready to go, but it’s been weeks since you received any qualified applicants from your help wanted ads. What’s going on? You wonder, “is it me” or “do I need to offer more money”?
If finding good employees feels like pulling teeth these days, you’re not alone. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, the U.S. closed 2006 with a very low 4.5% unemployment rate, the lowest since 2001.
What does this mean to the small business owner? This means a much tougher playing field for finding and keeping good employees. Further evidence other businesses are struggling can be found in recent Economic Trend surveys from the National Federation of Independent Business; in 2006, 39-46% of small businesses reported “few to no qualified applicants” to fill their job openings.
Can you get around this? The answer is YES, there are ways to keep your staff filled with qualified people. When I owned my 25-employee residential cleaning service, the unemployment rate seemed even more dire than our current conditions. So, I used a few successful recruiting tricks I’ll share with you to help you grease the pipeline of quality recruits for your business.
My biggest secret to attracting the best employees and beating out the competition starts with “flexibility.” In other words, throw out all of the old ideas, and get creative. In this economy, owners who shift their focus to marketing for new recruits will come out on top. For instance, when you market to your clients, you attract attention by presenting the benefits of your services to your audience. Marketing to your potential staff uses the same techniques–the sweeter the deal, the more people will be interested. Consider these six ideas for making your employment environment ultra-attractive.
Flexible Hours – Let’s face it, scheduling staff is easier if everyone works the same shifts. But, many people need jobs with part-time, temporary, odd or flexible hours. If you can offer this, you open yourself to a whole pool of people that your competition isn’t even considering.
Creative Incentive Programs – I love incentive programs for building extraordinary teams! Most people crave work environments where they feel recognized and rewarded, and sometimes a good hourly wage just doesn’t do the trick. A big part of my employment success can be attributed to the contests, incentives, perks, games and general fun that I built into the company.
Team Size Options – Consider changing your service team sizes based on your staff’s needs and the skills they bring to the table. As creatures of habit, many business owners get stuck in a rut about the number of people or division of labor on a job site. By keeping in mind that some people work better alone, others work better in a team, still others are very detailed and slow, and a few are speedy work horses, you can actually benefit from the different talents of a greater number of people by reorganizing your teams.
Perks for the Basic Needs of Life – Transportation, language barriers, childcare, easy banking, and legal snafus, etc., are some of the basic struggles your staff may face on a daily basis. If you can help make some of these challenges easier for potential workers, you’ll be a step ahead.
Education and Advancement Opportunities – There is no better way to tell recruits that you are not offering a “dead-end” job than to offer opportunities for further education or advancement. Maintaining a philosophy of “you bring the talent, the dedication and the ambition, and I will find a way to help you achieve that” sets up both you and your employees for success. I would much rather have a happy, motivated employee for 1½ years, than a half-hearted staff member with low productivity for five years.
Over-50 Crowd – The Baby Boomer revolution has hit, and guess what…studies show many of them do not have enough money to retire. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that by the end of this decade, workers 55 and older will comprise 20% of the work force. Several of my clients in the cleaning industry have been very successful at creating an attractive work environment for older workers.
Give these recruiting strategies a try, and you’ll find yourself with not only a happier, more productive staff, but you’ll be far ahead of your competition, too.
Creating a Win-Win Working Environment for the 50+ Crowd
Ideas for Attracting Workers – Flexible schedules, short-term opportunities, leadership/mentorship of younger workers, support with health benefits, self-directed assignments, drawings for cruises, trips, cultural activities, educational reimbursement, or gift certificates to trendy restaurants.
Finding Workers – Start with employment recruiting web sites dedicated to the Over 50 or Senior crowd. Check out the “National Employer Team” page where jobs can be posed on AARP.org. Also visit Seniors4hire.org, and Retireecareers.com.
What Age 50+ Employees Say About Cleaning Positions – According to my clients, the feedback they get from their older workers about why they chose cleaning jobs are that the hours are flexible, they can work as much or as little as they want, and they can work independently. Many take long leaves of absences for trips, health or family obligations, and they appreciate the ability to return to work when they can. The employers appreciate the consistency of their mature workers.