Small Business Advantages and Challenges When Recruiting

Landscape Contractor Recruiting Labor

Small Business Advantages and Challenges When Recruiting

Small business has always had its advantages and challenges in the never ending battle for talent and labor. Add to that the current labor shortage in our industry and it’s tough. The recent ramp up in activity has made things even tougher. While the labor markets won’t be fixed overnight, a refresher on the challenges of recruiting as a small business might help.

We’ll start with the challenges as a small business.

1.   Often we can’t pay as well as large businesses – while this is not always the case, it is something to be aware of; if an applicant comes in from a big company, make sure and cover the topics like work environment, atmosphere and room for creativity (flexibility) before discussing pay ranges; the right environment is worth something.

2.  Occasionally there is a lack of clarity concerning expectations because business size does not dictate or warrant explicit process management, policies, and/or procedures – often this can be the case but some employees desire freedom and flexibility over that; also, this just might be the motivation needed to improve systems and processes if needed.

3.  Lack of clarity about earnings potential because there does not appear to be a need to establish a career path – if this is an issue that stops you from getting good recruits, again, this might be the motivation to put a path in place; there are good resources out there in our industry as well places like SCORE and SBA.

4.  When communities within businesses are tight knit, feedback can be difficult to give and receive – the family environment of a small business can often impede critical feedback and crucial conversations but it shouldn’t; knowing when and how to have these types of sessions should be a requirement for managers or yourself; here are ten smart rules for negative feedback.

5.  Limited career growth options and frameworks for success – if you have paths, learn how to communicate them effectively; if not, but want them, get them in place; if your business is just too small, that’s ok; just make sure to provide the best environment and opportunity possible and be open and honest about things

6.  Small businesses sometimes lack brand images – if this stops you from getting good employees, you may want to think about moving it up on list; in a business that ultimately lives and dies by referrals some kind of brand is needed (internally and externally).  See our Branding section.

Now let’s discuss the advantages. While it is a shorter list, they can be big issues to some recruits but know how to communicate and, perhaps, position them based on the applicants persona. For instance, if someone is potentially a great fit with you and has all the skills needed, but you know their wage history might put them out of reach, emphasize the fit and being a part of the family before you talk money.  You don’t want to talk anyone into a bad idea but discussing all aspects of the job and company is prudent.

Small Business Advantages

1.  Have the opportunity to create a family atmosphere – to some this is huge; the more you and the applicant know about the fit the better; in this situation it is critical that the fit is good for a “new family member”.

2.  Have the flexibility to hire people who share company values and will fit in with the team – fit based on values and team composition is a powerful magnet and a great retention tool; letting the applicant spend time with other team members in this situation only fortifies the fit.

3.  Can hire a human resources pro to streamline, manage and stay up to date – if your size warrants an HR Manager, centralizing and streamlining with one quality person is very strong; everyone loves it when they only have to go to one person to get answers.

The major point here is that small business fits some better than others.  That is not a good or bad thing or a right or wrong thing.  Our industry is primarily small business and in a labor shortage, the more we know about our appeals, the better we can do in the recruiting process. Some recruits may come from larger companies outside the industry and some from larger landscape companies, but having a feel for who you are and how to communicate will only help in recruiting the right applicants.

Last but not least, the advantages and challenges list came from the SBA Learning Center which has a plethora of 30 minute classes on starting, managing, financing and marketing a business.  It is a great resource to keep in mind for future needs.

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