ince the pandemic started, many companies were put in an unfortunate position where they had to let employees go in order to stay afloat. Now, as businesses are looking to build their staff numbers back up again, they’re facing another huge challenge, known today as “The Great Resignation,” which has shrunk the talent pool for them significantly.
The cause of this was a combination of factors from baby boomers retiring early and prioritization of home life to people choosing to pursue their dreams and others looking for more work-from-home opportunities.
This shift has put the power back into the hands of employee pool, as “The Great Resignation” has allowed people to be even more picky with the places they choose to work. That means, businesses have to work twice as hard to recruit and keep talented workers. The challenge is to find staff with specific skills, or fresh talent who you can train to be with you for the long haul.
“For example, if money drives them, make sure you can pay them top dollar. If it's a flexible schedule or the ability to work at home sometimes, define what that means to them and decide if it fits into your shop.”
- Julie Bee, CEO and founder of Lead From Anywhere and BeeSmart Social Media
Let’s take a closer look at some things you can do to build up that workforce again.
1. Connect with Area High Schools or Vocational Schools
Since you’re going to be looking for employees new to the decorated-apparel industry, your best bet is to start looking to hire younger and look for those eager to learn and work hard.
Many high schools and vocational education centers have a work-study or internship program. By giving these students their first job, you train and give them a chance to become a loyal part of your team in the future, especially if they are already into screen printing, are future art majors, or even looking to learn how to print shirts for their band.
2. Yes, Referral Programs Do Work
Offer staff a referral payout for recommending someone they know would be a good addition to the team. A key factor for having success with this kind of program is to outline a time period the referred employee must make it past, in order to get the payout. Ninety days is a reasonable place to start for most businesses, and it’ll help encourage your employees to only recommend quality people they know will work hard.
3. Use Social Media as a Free Job Posting Source
You already have a robust social media marketing strategy, right? If you do, it can go way beyond just trying to bring in new customers. You can also use it to bring in new employees.
For example, if you developed a regular segment, with behind-the-scenes videos and images of what it’s like to work at your shop, that will give people a window into your work environment.
For example, Printed Threads, a screen printing company out of Fort Worth, TX, regularly gets their staff members involved in fun and creative posts on Instagram. Posts like this are great for showing off the company culture, which gives anyone who might be considering working there some insight into their future coworkers and a sense that people have fun working there too.
Posting photos and videos of company events, celebrations, internal promotions and testimonials is another way of giving both customers and potential employees a sense of how much you value your staff, and shows them the perks of working at your company.
4. Offer Generous Pay and Benefits
“There are many factors to consider when trying to attract and keep top talent,” says Patrick Ward, vice president of marketing at Rootstrap. “People want good pay, work/life balance, PTO and other strong benefits that are generally expected like a 401(k) or health insurance.”
In the past couple of years, hourly wages have been steadily on the rise. Take a look at the local businesses in your area and see how your wages compare. If you’re paying $15 an hour and someone can go to another business across the street and make $18, you’re going to have a hard time keeping your best employees. You can solve this problem by finding out what the highest comparable wage is in your area. Then, tack on 10% to that amount. This information is a lot easier to find out than it was in the past, so you can adjust salaries accordingly.
It isn’t just about the hourly pay either. Benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans/401(k)s, paid sick leave and the like will also attract more employees. In today’s climate however, Ward says the biggest thing that people are looking for in a job is flexibility. "But that isn't enough, once employees are onboarded, you need to continually invest in them," Ward says.
"My personal favorite strategy is to identify professional milestones with each employee and provide them access to further learning resources such as paying for their community memberships or professional development courses so that they continually upskill."
"When you invest in your employees as people, beyond their job's responsibilities, they repay that favor and trust 10 times over.”
- Patrick Ward, vice president of marketing at Rootstrap
Look at what you can do to make your shop more comfortable for your employees. For example, if you’re based in a warmer climate, by adding air conditioning to your shop or warehouse, you’ll be amazed how this small change to your business can be seen as a perk to hard-working employees.
Another point to consider is that while women make up roughly half of the population, they make up 56% of the workforce exits in the past year. One of the reasons for this is that childcare has become too expensive for many people. If you want to set your shop apart from others, consider helping with on-site childcare or providing a stipend to offset the cost.
Continue Your Growth
The pandemic and downturn in the economy changed the workforce landscape tremendously within the past couple of years. However, taking proactive steps to create more benefits, recruit new employees and show off the perks of working for your business, can give you an edge over the competition. It’ll also allow you to continue growing, and build a loyal staff that will stay with you for years to come.