Ways Small Businesses Can Cope with the Labor Shortage

Ways Small Businesses Can Cope with the Labor Shortage

Published: February 01, 2022

It seems everyone these days is hiring, and small business owners have the added difficulty of competing with large ones for workers in a tight labor market. As of spring 2021, 91% of such entrepreneurs said there were few to no qualified applicants for their vacant positions. To find staffing solutions, it helps to understand the reasons for the labor shortage and stand out as the small business who can address related pain points.

Some Causes of the Employee Shortage

Work/life balance is complicated for many right now. Some of the biggest reasons workers are reluctant to take jobs include:

  • Fear of contracting COVID-19 in public-facing jobs. With the arrival of the highly-transmissible Omicron variant, even vaccinated and boosted workers risk infection and mild illness; the unvaccinated risk severe illness at best.
  • Lack of childcare and in-person school. Some parents may be struggling with childcare costs, or may worry about exposing their children to the virus. Distance learning, too, demands intensive parental supervision.
  • Dissatisfaction with a previous job and/or upskilling. Workers who were laid off or at added risk during the early stages of the pandemic may be looking for better treatment and job security elsewhere. Many may be aiming for higher-paying or remote positions.

Some Solutions for Dealing with the Labor Shortage

In general, it helps to empathize with prospective worker concerns and demonstrate that you value your employees. Consider trying any of the following:

  • Reduce the risk of infection for employees. If you can, find ways to allow remote work, which will protect your workers and help with childcare concerns. For in-person-only roles, provide PPE and implement strategies to protect them.
  • Increase wages, overtime pay, and/or perks. If you can, offer current and new employees higher wages, overtime pay, or both. Be creative: come up with other perks, like a flexible schedule or extra time off.
  • Reduce business hours. You may need to tailor your business hours for the number of staff members you have on hand while you continue the recruitment process.
  • Consider hiring part-time or temporary workers. Consider hiring workers from temp agencies or offering part-time work to help accommodate their life needs (such as another job, school, or child care obligations).

If you’re looking for more hiring strategies or simply want to make your business more capable, you may want to consider getting help from a business coach.

Make Your Business More Resilient with a Business Accelerator Program

Enrolling in a business accelerator program and working one-on-one with a business coach is an excellent way to get guidance on coping with the labor shortage and helping your business thrive in difficult times. If you’re a growth-minded small business in the Northwest Chicagoland area, consider applying for admission to an accelerator program with Next Level Northwest.  

Next Level Northwest is a business acceleration public-private partnership serving the Northwest Chicagoland region. We support regional and local businesses through collaborative and innovative initiatives to help grow the economy. Download our Program Overview PDF here

Ready to take your business success to the next level and become a Next Level Northwest graduate? Download and prepare your application following this process today!