I recently returned from Washington D.C. where my colleagues and fellow member of CTA met with legislators and the White House staff to discuss many issues for the consumer technology industry and its small businesses and entrepreneurs. We discussed 5G technologies and the spectrum needed. A healthy discussion on tariffs and their effects (though this may still be up in the air), regulation, privacy and security, immigration and the need for skilled and unskilled labor and many other subjects.
While we hope we made a difference, we did get a respectful audience. After our sessions on the Hill and White House we met for dinner with folks from the HR community as CTA made a jobs and an education pledge at the White House to create 400K positions over the coming years.
The small business members at the dinner discussed the tight labor markets and difficulty in finding, filling and retaining positions. It is clear this is one issue that gets in the way of sustained growth and so it was compelling to hear from human resource experts we had meaningful discussions about their views and advice on how to tackle these resourcing challenges.
At the top of the list is that most of our hires now come from the Millennial demographic and soon the Generation Zs. This group has some key differences from other generations that need to be kept in mind. They are certainly technologically savvy and use the tools at hand to find and search for work. If you are hiring and managing you need to as well.
Many in this group have different attitudes about the future and this is meaningful With many unsure if they will do better than their parents, they are less willing to put off experiences for tomorrow and so are more motivated by culture, setting and process than older workers. Does this mean you need to offer dogs at work? Perhaps.
Recruiting and retaining are competitive too. With less belief and commitment to career long positions what do small businesses need to do to compete for these hires with large organizations that can offer so many compelling benefits? It is very difficult to match medical, retirement and other offers that big firms can afford and manage.
Workplace Culture is Key
The good news is that large firms are not for everyone, and small firms if they think about it can offer a better culture and connection with their employees. It is important then to think about how you show up for your staff and to understand what does and will motivate them to stay and to perform.
It turns out that not all benefits need be costly. Yes, it could be the ability to bring your pet. It could be work dress requirements, lunch at work, an exercise program, etc. In fact, it seems that offering employees a wide range of options even those they pay for may be a good way to motivate and retain.
Remember that potential hires and those we wish to keep will compare more than just the salary. Will that new employer offer flexible work hours for a mother? Will they have a group deal at the gym close to the workers home? Do they have a commute plan? Some of these things are simply group negotiations that a caring HR department (or business manager) has worked out and even if they cost the employee some money they will be compared to the offer from another.
So, when you bemoan the tough hiring environment look at your company and culture. If it is fun to work at your company, if they are doing important work, if your employees and seen and recognized and the experience of working there is good you are on track.
Get Creative and Diversify
Finally, look elsewhere for help as it turns out that stolid methods of search may leave high performance candidates out. Yes, look at schools and education but remember that community colleges can produce great workers so interview past the resume. Veterans are a great source of well-trained and disciplined hires and perhaps most importantly diversity.
Changing the rainbow and gender mix of your search can produce more than great employees, but also widen points of view and empower your business. Open your field of vision and proper. All the best in your endeavors.