Recruiting, Talent

3 Small Business Hiring Trends that Will Last for the Remainder of 2019

It may only be August, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be planning ahead. As 2020 gets closer, there are a few hiring trends that continue to dominate the headlines. If you guessed that one of them is difficulty finding skilled workers, then you would be correct!


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What’s starting to feel like a broken record seems to be the norm for many employers these days, and the July jobs report, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), continues to echo the hiring struggles plaguing many.

According to the BLS, total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 164,000 in July, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7%. The BLS also found that notable job gains occurred in professional and technical services, health care, social assistance, and financial activities. Although the latest jobs report is good news for jobseekers, for employers in the industries mentioned above, it’s become a frequent reminder of the challenges these businesses are facing.

Alignable—a networking website for small businesses—frequently conducts user surveys to get a pulse on trending issues small business owners are currently facing. As part of a new initiative, Alignable aims to release monthly reports on emerging trends it sees across the company’s Q&A forum. In the newest report, Alignable shares three trends you need to be aware of.

3 Trends

  1. New hires are required ASAP. This number one trend should come as no surprise, considering the unemployment rate is at its lowest in 50 years. In a recent Alignable hiring survey, 33% of business owners feel more strongly about adding staff now than they felt at the beginning of 2019. Only 6% plan to hire fewer people or downsize, while the remainder will hold steady with original hiring plans.
  2. Sourcing strong candidates is headache-inducing. Given the increased demand for employees and shrinking supply, Alignable says 59% of small businesspeople who want to hire are struggling to fill their spots, and frustrations are running high.
  3. Major industries are facing hiring challenges. Industries with the most substantial recruiting obstacles include real estate, financial services, business consulting, retail, and insurance. These industries require specialized skills needed for success, but few candidates actually possess these skills.

While these trends may not sound all that “trendy,” they do sum up the struggles many employers continue to face in the current hiring landscape. For instance, 58% of small business owners, in a different survey released by Oasis, a professional employer organization (PEO), reported the “inability to find employees with the right skills to fill key positions.”

And if small businesses aren’t worried about filling vacant roles, they’re worried about losing their top talent to the competition. Oasis reports that 58% “strongly agree” or “agree” that “I worry about losing my best people from the firm,” and 62% said, “we often find it hard to fill important roles.”

Taking a Different Approach?

When it comes to filling open positions in their organizations, small business owners use a combination of internal and external sources. According to Oasis’ data, respondents were asked: How do you fill open positions in your organization? The responses are highlighted below:

  • We rely on a combination of internal employee development and external hiring (51%).
  • We have a good pipeline of developing employees to cover most of our needs (30%).
  • We routinely look externally before filling roles in our business (19%).

Filling vacant roles through a pipeline of qualified candidates is always a good strategy to have in place, but what about attracting external talent? This is where your compensation and benefits negotiation strategies come into play. But unfortunately, actions speak louder than words.

While 50% of Oasis survey respondents reported they aim to offer competitive compensation, 13% said they “only pay the basic level of compensation,” and 11% said they “only pay above the going rate to top performing employees.”

“An organization’s talent is often a company’s only differentiator,” said Mary Anne Tate, Director, PEO, Centralized Service at Oasis, in a press release. “High-performing employees always have options to move. To attract and retain the best available talent in the market, providing competitive compensation and health benefits packages are the table-stakes. But it takes more than this today. Employees are looking for opportunities for growth, development, purposeful work, and to find a culture where they feel like they fit in.”

As we get closer to the new year, it’s worth looking at your compensation and benefits offerings to see if you have what it takes to attract and retain talent. If you are already offering competitive pay, step outside the box, and try offering some unique benefits that your workers want.

We’ve heard training benefits have become a huge draw for younger workers. By offering training to your workforce, you can also upskill the candidates who don’t quite meet your skills requirements. This strategy is becoming more common in the candidate-driven market.

To succeed at recruiting, it’s important to pay close attention to how candidates perceive your organization and what their experience is throughout the process. Learn the latest—and greatest—ways to create a candidate attraction strategy that’s engaging, easy to use, and stands out to candidates, when you join Kristy Nittskoff for the RecruitCon session: Getting Candidate Experience Right: Find and Fix Mistakes That Could Be Sabotaging Your Recruiting Efforts. RecruitCon will take place during the larger HR World Conference in Nashville, Tennessee on November 14-15, 2019. Click here to learn more, or to register today!

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