Finding and retaining quality employees has always been a challenge for small business owners. In the COVID-19 world, however, the challenge is greater than ever before. With expanded unemployment benefits that allow some to make more money staying at home than working and many working parents opting to stay at home with their children, there's a serious labor shortage. And those that have managed to get help must answer a pressing question: How can they retain the employees they do have on limited budgets?
Here are some solutions:
- Offer flexible work schedules. For so many of us, the pandemic drastically changed life at home. Suddenly, parents who worked when their children were at school or daycare had to deal with care challenges at home, including online and hybrid schooling. You can help support those needs by offering flexible work schedules that allow employees to work around their challenges at home.
- Give employees the chance to work remotely. One of the best ways to help workers achieve work/life balance is to give them the ability to work from home at least some of the time. That's less time and money they have to spend commuting, and gives working parents the opportunity to get involved with their children's learning. If you do decide to offer this benefit, be sure to set clear expectations of when employees need to be available.
- Offer growth and development opportunities. With less staff, you may be able to give the employees you have opportunities to take new responsibilities that can help them build their knowledge and skills and potentially help them increase their pay.
- Encourage creativity. There's something so rewarding about using our creative minds. One way to foster creativity in the workplace is to give your employees the opportunity to submit ideas for programs or products that might improve your company. For example, ask them to pitch idea on potential new products or services or ways to improve efficiency. You could create your own version of Shark Tank.
- Make work fun. Living with COVID-19 has been anything but fun. Think about ways you can bring fun to the workplace, whether it's offering pizza parties, having trivia contests, or sponsoring a company outing.
- Connect. Meet with each employee regularly to find out how things are going and to see if they have any concerns or feedback, or if they have any new areas of interest. Such sessions allow employees to be heard, showing them that you truly appreciate them.
- Make work clean and safe. With COVID-19, employees want to know that work is a safe place. Make sure you follow all safety protocols, including sanitizing areas and following social distancing guidelines.
Between recruiting, hiring, and training, replacing an employee can be extremely costly, especially today at a time when businesses are managing the financial challenges of COVID-19. By making the employees you have a priority, you can help lower the risk of losing them, keeping you in business.