The latest unemployment rate is only 3.7 percent. With the economy going so strong it should be smooth sailing for small business owners. However, one side effect of low unemployment rates is that business owners have a tougher time finding qualified employees. It often seems like the best candidates have already found positions and are unwilling to move. So how can small businesses owners deal with the tight labor market? This is a case where creativity can be part of the solution.


Offer Sign On Bonuses

One way to entice new qualified candidates is to offer contingency-based sign on bonuses. The bonus can be continent on six month’s employment in order to minimize any candidate from taking advantage of the offer and then leaving right away. The six month employment term can also serve as a way for the business to demonstrate its attractive work environment to the new employee.

Give Referral Bonuses

If you find one good candidate, odds are they are friends with other candidates with good work ethics. If you offer a referral bonus to existing employees they could do some of the legwork for you in finding new candidates to fill any remaining open positions you have. This is also a great way to demonstrate how much value you place on your employees’ recommendations, which adds to a positive company culture.

Use Interns to Gap the Bridge

If you have immediate needs for help and are truly at a loss as to finding good employees, start with the local colleges. Senior college students and recent grads are typically eager to prove their worth in the job market, even if the role is as intern. Whether you offer a paid internship or not is up to you. But with an intern on board, you can take care of immediate employee needs without being forced to make permanent hiring decisions until you’ve had a chance to measure their worth to your business on a long-term basis.

Hold On to Existing Employees

Now is not the time to be cavalier about existing employees. In a time when so few are looking for employment, hold on to the employees you already have by showing them how valuable they are to you. Instigate employee reward programs such as “employee of the month,” or “highest salesperson.” Set aside time in weekly meetings to publicly praise specific actions or achievements of high performing employees. A word of praise is highly valued, as are tangible rewards like gift cards, a prized parking space or free lunches.

Offer Advanced Training

Demonstrate to existing employees and potential new candidates that your business is committed to promoting career advancement. You can do this by offering advanced training in your industry, sponsoring employees for college tuition, or making a promise to always promote from within.

These creative solutions for how to deal with the tight labor market can be implemented whether you run a small or mid-sized business. When you make the decision to face the tight labor market head on, you’ll be able to get through so you can enjoy the rest of what this strong economy has to offer.

“Remember, wealth has nothing to do with money, success has everything to do with failure and life is as simple as you make it!” – John Dessauer

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