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Layoffs mount, and Main Street still can’t get anyone to take jobs


A “Now hiring” sign is displayed on the window of an IN-N-OUT fast food restaurant in Encinitas, California, May 9, 2022.

Mike Blake | Reuters

When it comes to salary, small business owners generally don’t play in the same league as larger companies.

It’s even trickier now in a tight labor market with rising wages and with more states and municipalities posting salary ranges, which stand to make small businesses look even less appealing from a salary perspective.

The stakes are especially high given that small businesses are still in hiring mode even with the economy slowing, and it isn’t getting any easier to find workers. Eighty-six percent of small business owners have expressed plans to hire one or more workers in the next year or two, according to an October survey from employee scheduling company Homebase. Meanwhile, the National Federation of Independent Business, the main small business trade group, reported last week the tenth-consecutive month of a confidence decline on Main Street, though little change in the need to hire more workers.

“Owners continue to show a dismal view about future sales growth and business conditions, but are still looking to hire new workers,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg in a release with its latest monthly survey. “Inflation, supply chain disruptions, and labor shortages continue to limit the ability of many small businesses to meet the demand for their products and services.”

The NFIB’s separate jobs report showed that among owners hiring, 90% reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions.

Here are five ways small businesses can level the playing field to attract top talent.

Highlight more than wages in the window

Jim Marx, director of the retirement plans division at Edelman Financial Services, recently drove by a convenience store that advertised “competitive benefits” in the window, highlighting perks such as the company’s retirement plan, medical benefits and student loan assistance offering. “It floored me to see that. They obviously want to get good talent in the door and that’s what they were highlighting,” he said.

The point: Small businesses need to make sure candidates know the benefits of onboarding with them beyond a starting wage that has already likely gone higher.

Small businesses are still facing a strong job market, says Paychex CEO John Gibson

Benefits should be emphasized in job descriptions and discussed in every single interview, during onboarding and in training, said Kayla Lebovits, chief executive and founder of Bundle Benefits, a fully remote company that focuses on wellbeing, professional development and team building. “If it’s just mentioned in the job description, but not promoted throughout the job interviews, [a candidate] will think it’s not real.” 

Involve current staff in the hiring process

Lebovits finds it effective to invite employees who actively use the company’s various benefits to participate in the interview process. This way, candidates get a real-life sense of how benefits such as the company’s home equipment stipend and co-working…



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