Find the Right People During the COVID-19 Era
Inc.|May - June 2021
Even before the pandemic, SMBs faced an uphill battle for the best talent. Here’s how technology and the right partners can help meet new challenges.

Recruiting, hiring, and retaining the right team members have always been top challenges for small and midsize businesses (SMBs). They face stiff competition from larger companies targeting the same pool of talent and bringing greater resources to the fight. The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the situation. To succeed in this environment, SMBs must leverage all the tools at their disposal. Fortunately, they have many options.

“Pre-pandemic conditions saw the tightest labor market in history, making it very challenging for employers to find the talent needed to support their growth plans,” says Claudine Zachara, president and COO of ThinkWhy, a firm that forecasts employment trends and talent supply and demand. “Interestingly, post-COVID conditions are no different, depending on the industry you serve. Industries like professional services, technology, and finance are still experiencing a talent shortage for skilled roles. It’s a very competitive model.”

While the industries hit hardest by the pandemic, such as hospitality and restaurants, may benefit from a temporary talent surplus in the short term, SMBs face challenges even in those sectors, says Deborah Cain Good, a faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business. Extended unemployment benefits and stimulus checks make staying home viable for some parents of children not yet able to return to school. “Child care is expensive,” she notes, which means some may be slow to return to the workforce.

Brand and culture are important

In other sectors, navigating the fluidity of talent supply and attracting the kind of talent that aligns with higher-performance expectations remains a big challenge for SMBs, Zachara says. Meeting it requires SMBs to cultivate a high-performing culture and atmosphere. “High-performing talent seeks this type of environment, so your company’s brand and how you display your culture and performance expectations play a big role in overcoming the competition for talent.”

One way SMBs can boost their brand with job seekers is by providing the right technology for employees. The results of a recent OnePoll survey commissioned by Paycom make it clear that technology is more important than ever to employees, regardless of whether they work on-site or remotely. SMBs that want to attract top candidates and retain existing talent must provide employees with technology that is easy to use, empowering, which streamlines outdated processes.

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Hiring changes the company DNA and impacts everything from product development to culture, morale to productivity. It is that important.

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