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8 tips on how businesses can manage skills shortage

As businesses begin to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, they face an unlikely new obstacle, a skills shortage. The lack of skilled workers to fill vacant positions. With a pandemic that has crippled the globe for almost 2 years, many industry workers that were laid off have had to find alternative sources of income. 

Some employees may have moved away from populous cities to regional or coastal areas that are more affordable. Now with the restrictions lifting and international travel back on the cards, businesses need to reopen with the same pre-lockdown workforce. Industries are now faced with a new challenge, a skills shortage, lack of international talent due to border closures, and former employees finding new work. 

Take Tim for example, Tim is a chef who also owns a restaurant in Sydney. He takes a 2-week break once a year to see family and friends. He has 6 staff that have been working for him for over 8 years. When COVID-19 hit, he quickly changed over the menu to offer simpler takeaway options. He also had to make a very difficult decision and let 3 of his staff go. He operated on a more limited basis during the lockdown period. 

When the lockdowns lifted in October he reopened his restaurant for dine-in customers.  However, he was not prepared for the onslaught of bookings and customer interest. Unfortunately, the 3 staff members he had to let go found other employment. Tim now faced a different challenge of finding new staff. He was not expecting a skills shortage and that it would be a challenge to find employees. Secondly, with the international borders being closed, he would struggle to hire international qualified staff. He had to hire a recruitment agency to help him rebuild his team. 

This type of problem is occurring throughout Australia and across most industries. The skills shortage and lack of candidates is a problem that many small businesses experience. 

So what can you do to encourage workers to join your business and become long-term employees?

8 tips to manage skills shortage and retain good staff members

1. Facing the vaccination challenge

Businesses are going back to normal operations, with staff returning to face-to-face work, in retailers, restaurants, and offices. Some businesses are putting in place measures to assess whether their staff has had the two doses of the COVID-19 vaccination as per Government guidelines. You can better prepare your team by sending out communications that vaccinations will be required to enter work. You can offer your employees an incentive for getting the vaccine such as a day off to recover. The important thing is to make it really clear what you expect of employees.

2. Invest in a good recruitment agency

Having a speedy hiring process in place is critical as candidates will likely be looking for work in multiple places, especially now with the skills shortage we are facing. If you move too slowly or have too long a recruitment process, then it could mean that your preferred candidate drops out. Speed is of the essence and hiring a good recruitment agency to find your staff is important. Using a small business loan could be useful to help enable you to hire a great recruitment agency. Recruiters specialise in different industries so finding the right one for your business will help you secure the right talent. LinkedIn can also be a good resource as you look for your next team member. 

3. Establish a referral network

Ask existing employees if they know of anyone suited for the roles you have available. Establishing a referral network with a reward will help you find the right talent. This usually means the person referring thinks highly of the person they are putting forward for the role. 

4. Offer attractive apprenticeships

People today are predicted to have over 17 jobs over 5 careers in their life. A reason could be that the young Australians today are not prepared and onboarded correctly. Giving a new starter adequate training when they commence will help them feel more confident in their role. It is important to offer apprenticeships that will entice workers to learn with your business.

A plumber could offer a slightly higher apprenticeship pay rate to attract the right candidate. The plumber could also invest time in training the apprentice and getting their apprentice to shadow them at jobs. By giving their apprentice adequate training they can avoid a skills shortage in trained plumbers on their books. Once the apprentice has a better understanding, the plumber could allow them to complete the work with their guidance. Building the apprentice’s confidence along the way so they are ready to become a fully qualified plumber. If you would like to find out more about apprenticeship support – click here. 

5. Offer career progression plans

Do your employees have a future career plan? Do you know what it is and can you support them? If you don’t have a career progression plan in place now for existing employees, they will eventually move on from the business. A plan is essentially a roadmap detailing how they will advance in your business. To combat a skills shortage you could provide your existing employees with training and education opportunities. 

6. Market your business

Update your website to include a careers opportunities page. You can also include company benefits and perks on social media. Include whether your business offers flexible working arrangements, salary packaging options, car parking, and any other benefits unique to your business. Include stories from your existing employees to help build trust with new candidates. 

7. Flexible working 

This type of hybrid working model is becoming the most asked for part of working for an employer. Recruiters are saying it’s almost more important to candidates than salary. Can your business support a hybrid working model, job sharing, working from home, flexible start and finish times? If you can, you will be able to attract talented individuals who will likely stay with your business for the long term, avoiding any skills shortage issues. Employees see businesses that support flexible working, as supporting their entire family and life. 

8. Pay increase & bonuses

If you are in a position to offer more, you will attract a higher qualified candidate. If you can offer to increase employees’ salaries you will retain your employees for longer. You will also attract more candidates in this market, candidates have a very unique situation whereby they have many employment opportunities.

So by offering slightly more per salary you might be able to catch a good employee before your competitor does. If you need any assistance with funding extra cash flow to pass on to your employees, we can help you. We offer flexible loan options to support small business owners. We are also offering a Kickstarter loan to help small businesses get back on their feet post COVID-19 restrictions. If your employees were stood down over the COVID-19 lockdown period they would have experienced financial hardship. By offering them a bonus for returning to work they would most likely really appreciate it. 

Lumi is here to help you bounce back from the COVID-19 restrictions and combat any skills shortage issues. We can help support your business with the funding it needs to get back to thriving. You can find out more or apply for any of our products here. 

Post Author: Vanessa Muller

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