It's a job seekers market. With record low unemployment, employers are struggling to find and retain workers, including young and minimum wage employees.
If you're looking to hire minimum wage workers, you need to cater to Generation Z, people born between the mid-1990s to mid-2000s. They're entering the workforce and can be choosy about where they work.
"The economy is doing so well, and unemployment rates are at all-time lows, so it's hard to find employees in general," said Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com. "There are so many available jobs that candidates are able to find multiple positions and better negotiate."
To attract workers, employers need to offer more than just pay. "As the economy remains hot, many businesses have boosted pay, added vacation days, and other bells and whistles to outdo the competition," said Scott Taylor, president and COO of Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar. "It's a fierce hiring battle, but with the right strategies, businesses can better set themselves up for success." [Read related article: Small Business Owners See Value in Increased Minimum Wage.]
It takes the right approach and know-how to find, hire, and keep quality employees. Here are four ways you can attract the right employees and stand out against competing employers in your industry.
1. Offer benefits and flexibility.
Like all employees, younger employees want, and are demanding, better benefits and flexibility. If your business can provide a competitive benefits package, you'll be a step ahead of the competition. "Great benefits, like 401(k), health and dental insurance, are always in demand," Sweeney said.
Flexibility is also important for minimum wage employees because many of them are still in high school or college. They have other responsibilities, such as school to work around.
"Flexibility is important because their schedules fluctuate so often," said Ryan Novak, owner of Chocolate Pizza Company. "Sports, school and social interactions create schedule stress points that an employer has to accommodate to a point. I try hard to balance their need for flexibility with my need for staffing dependability."
2. Create a positive work environment and show you care.
Employees will stick with businesses if they enjoy coming into work, feel valued and are gaining solid experience.
"For jobs offering minimum wage, in particular, Marco's Pizza believes things, such as providing an engaging, fun, cohesive and purpose-driven environment that helps build an experience portfolio, particularly for young workers on their first job, are the true differentiators," said Rod Sanders, vice president, talent management at Marco's Pizza.
One way to help employees gain valuable experience is with training and leadership programs. "While such jobs are, for the vast majority of these employees, not going to be a career for them, the employee can take advantage of some differentiating skills-building programs," said Sanders.
3. Reputation matters.
As a company, your reputation matters. But both consumers and potential employees are becoming increasingly conscious of corporate social responsibility.
"While everyone needs money to provide for themselves and their families, young workers seem to be conscious of and conscientious about who they're willing to attach their names to," Sanders said.
"If your employer brand is tagged with a bad reputation for how it treats people or the community, ... prospective applicants are going to see this and think long and hard before they consider you," he said.
Taylor suggests offering employees opportunities to get involved in the community and participate in volunteer work. "They will be more likely to pursue a job they feel good about – one that extends outside the walls of the business," Taylor said.
4. Prioritize mentorship opportunities.
If you aren't doing so already, provide leadership and development programs to employees, including mentorship opportunities. Mentorship makes employees feel valued and that they are part of the team.
"If you are actively allowing established employees to mentor the newer ones, it can create a greater understanding of the company and how it operates," said Bill DiPaola, chief operating officer of Ballard Brands and PJ's Coffee. "You can give them the opportunity to gain a deeper perspective on what they are doing and to apply themselves. This leaves you with a more branded employee who will want to stay with you longer."
Last, think about what you wanted from your past employers and what made you leave a job.
"When in doubt about what you should do, think about companies you might have previously worked for and had poor experiences with," said Sweeney. "Whether it was a toxic environment, negative boss, or endless gossip, that experience likely taught you that you do not want to see this behavior recreated again and certainly not at your business."