Staff shortages are currently a well-recognised problem in the Australian workforce, mainly due to the decrease of skilled migrant workers, backpackers and international students with the pandemic border closures. From nurses to hospitality workers, retailers and trades; businesses of all types are desperate for workers.
As a result, post-lockdown recovery has Australian workers in a position to cash in on these labour shortages and demand higher wages and some businesses, especially SME businesses, can’t compete with the increase in staff costs.
But what if these small businesses can’t attract more workers? We’ve outlined a few tips you can consider to help overcome the current workforce shortage and attain skilled workers to assist your business through the busy season and beyond.
What is the labour shortage?
A labour shortage is where there are too many positions in the market than there are workers to fill them. Australia has triggered workforce shortages in the past through generational retirement and macro-economic events such the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) however our current shortage is of course a lingering result of the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, in the Budget address in June this year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the: “Workforce, I believe, is the biggest single challenge facing the Australian economy. You will hear me talk about it until you’re sick of hearing me say it, about the importance of building the skills our workforce needs.”
According to data released by job advertising website, Seek, job ad volumes nationally in October 2021 were 63 per cent higher than a year ago and data released in September found there were 55 per cent more short-term jobs advertised in retail and hospitality than at the same time last year.
Australian businesses want to get back on track post pandemic but unfortunately, a shortage in workers is a major hindrance. As a small business owner, a few things you could consider to turn this current challenge into opportunities is to:
1. Raise your wages
If you are able to, consider raising your wages. As mentioned, the job landscape to attain workers is tough at the moment and larger businesses with money incentives aren’t making it easier for small businesses.
Australian Venue Co, owner of 170 hospitality venues around Australia, said it was offering UK workers $1,000 in dining vouchers and will pay for their international flight, to attract new kitchen and floor staff due to the difficulty of finding personnel. Competing against larger companies or $90 p/hour dishwashing wages isn’t feasible for small businesses but one way to boost your rates is to continually review your business costs to see whether there are any savings that can be made. This includes your EFTPOS.
One of the reason’s Smartpay’s Zero Cost EFTPOS solution is so compelling is that it helps SME businesses save money on merchant fees by removing your EFTPOS bill. By implementing this EFTPOS solution, you could use the newfound savings to invest into raising the wages for your current staff as a retention strategy.
2. Redesign the roles and leverage current employees
If filling positions in your business is proving to be a challenge, consider restructuring some roles to disperse responsibilities through different avenues. It is also important to cross train employees across multiple facets of the business so they can step into a role when required. It also assists these employees with potential career development and ‘moving up in the ranks’ because professional development isn’t always pay driven.
3. Automate technology processes where you can
One way you can help alleviate some of the administrative pressures, reduce overheads and overcome talent shortages is with better use of technology.
There are a number of applications and technology systems that can help your business save time and money, whether that’s automatically scheduling your social media posts or digital newsletters, shift scheduling apps and even going paperless which reduces not only costs but also time caught up in paperwork. Do some proactive research and help find ways for technology to do some heavy lifting so you and your staff can concentrate on other parts of the business.
4. Introduce appealing incentives or ways to reward staff
Flexibility, specific work perks such as discounts, wellness days, team events, even reward vouchers for stretch projects or additional duties are all ways in which you can show your appreciation to your team and help alleviate some of the burden of staff being overworked. Rewarding your staff and setting up a great culture creates positive sentiment and provides good optics for future employees. After all, your employees can be some of your best brand advocates!
There are also strategies you can implement as proof points to demonstrate how great your business is to work for. These include:
- making the application process easy,
- providing a clear job description with wage rates and role requirements to define expectations,
- having up to date social media and a Google My Business Page so company information is easily accessible and;
- ensuring the advertising and interview process is fun and engaging for potential candidates.
Businesses that provide consistent and engaging experiences, keep people connected and empower them to be a great employee.
Small business owners are turning their attention to developing strategies and business goals for the new year and having an engaged team to help achieve these goals will be a priority. Despite the workforce shortage, candidates are still out there; you simply need to think out of the box and implement a few different ways to attract and retain the right people for your business.