Richard T. Hendee, a Silver Fox Advisor

Over the course of the last few months more and more of my clients have been working through some challenges in their experiences with today’s workforce. The issues are plentiful and range across the entire spectrum of the human resources function business owners deal with every day.

The first issue is trying to find qualified individuals to fill open positions. Experience is always front and center, but I am hearing that business owners are willing to take the time to train new incoming employees if the individual demonstrates some good potential.

Having good potential is the second issue. A number of today’s job seekers want to be hired for positions that meet their schedules and not necessarily that of the employer. If the business is a retail customer facing business with typically retail hours of operation, scheduling work shifts is challenging enough for a business owner, but adding the element of working around the hours the employee wants to work can be difficult.

Working from home vs actually coming into a business environment is also an issue- employers are facing. The COVID working from home experience became a real way of life for many workers, and some simply do not want to go back to pre-COVID going-into-the-office schedules. This is again a real issue for retail business owners faced with meeting specific retail hours of operation.

The pay schedules have completely gone off the rails. Yes, most employers want their employees to earn a livable wage, but the cost of living has increased so much in the post-COVID world that wages have increased dramatically as well. Payroll is the largest expenses for most employers, and when these higher costs can’t be passed on to the employer’s clients, then something has to give. Usually what happens is the employers try to find ways to reduce or streamline processes whereby they don’t need as many employees to get the work done while still maintaining quality service and product delivery.

Fast track advancement is another issue. Many of today’s potential employees want to be rewarded with frequent promotions working their way to that corner office with titles that look good to their friends, and in some cases, help pad their resumes. Typically, advancements in small and mid-size businesses do not happen on a short timeframe. When you work in the small business arena, employees frequently wear many hats and specific specialized positions simply do not exist.

So, what does all this mean to today’s small to mid-size business owners. Here’s what I have been telling my clients:

  1. Take a step back and assess your business needs and how you can do what your business does with the work force that is available today. This might include shifting to more part-timers and fewer full-time employees. If today’s workers want to work according to their schedules, you might have to adjust your work flows as well.
  2. Consider college students as a potential employee pool. College students typically are looking for extra money to pay for their education or for expenses that might not be covered by college loan programs or scholarship awards. In addition, these college students might be another answer to finding part-time workers.
  3. You also may want to look at seniors for potential part-time workers. Many seniors today want something more than staying at home if they are healthy and want to get out and meet people and stay active. Further, many seniors today often need to supplement their incomes to cover the increasing cost of living or health care. In addition, seniors may not need any training and may even offer some great suggestions from what they learned or experienced in their former careers.
  4. Review your job descriptions and make sure that they include things today’s work force is seeking: Things like we provided on-the job training and advancement opportunities. Then, you have to make sure that you actually make those things available and are not just using fluff words.
  5. Develop a reward system that recognizes good work when it happens, and reward your employees at that moment with gift cards, cash and praise for a job well done.
  6. Identify tasks that could be done remotely or even outsourced. This could lessen the number of employees you may need or the number of employees you need to be in the business’ facilities.
  7. Explore your business’ hours of operation and actual traffic flows. You might find out that you only have one or two customers that come into the business the first few hours or the last few hours the business is open. Just because you have been open from 7:00 until 7:00 for 20 years, you may not need to be open those hours any more due to customer life style changes over time.
  8. Review your pay levels for each job in your business, and for those jobs that could be done from home consider having different pay scale for in- the-office work vs remote work. Think about the fact that people working from home might consider a lesser salary because they do not have to pay to commute, to park their vehicle, or for meals out, child care, etc.

These are a few outside-the-box suggestions, and I am sure if you put your mind to it, you can come up with even more creative ways to meet today’s workplace challenges, because that is what entrepreneurs have been doing for years.

 About the author: Richard Hendee is a Silver Fox Advisor and the owner of Horizon Associates, Inc. Richard is known as “The Business Advisor”. He has been providing business advisor, consulting and mentoring services to small and mid-sizes businesses for more than 45 years. Richard can be reached at 832.437.3089 or by e-mail at


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