Attracting Young Workers

Are you having trouble filling positions at your small business? As a business owner, do you fear that your younger employees who entered the workforce during the pandemic-affected economy may quit tomorrow without notice? You’re not alone.

The recent years of stagnant wages and rising inflation are taking their toll on workplace employment, especially in certain labor markets like transportation, health care, social assistance, recreation (including amusement parks like Kings Island) and food service.

June 2022’s unemployment rate was 3.6% compared to 14.7% in 2020. In June, the U.S. job market struggled to find people to wait tables and staff factories. The demand was so high that employers tried to lure older workers who left the workforce during the pandemic to return, if for no other reason than to keep up with inflation after an unsteady stock market has left their 401(k)s in jeopardy. 

The conversation young workers used to have about their “dream job” now gets the response “I don’t dream of labor.” They tend to be anti-capitalism and view work as a financial necessity where they are overworked, underpaid, and under-appreciated. According to Business Insider, Gen Z workers are more likely to change jobs more often than any other generation, especially if it means a higher salary. Loyalty is replaced with disdain for a what they refer to as a “toxic workplace” whetheror not it actually is.

The National Review recently published some quotes from young TikTok users:

“Life is about so much more than working yourself to death. I don’t want to keep working 40 hours a week, coming home only to have four hours a night to spend with my kids and boyfriend, and do it all again the next day.”

“I don’t want to be a girl boss. I don’t want to hustle. I simply want to live my life slowly and lay [sic] down in a bed of moss with my lover and enjoy the rest of my existence reading books, creating art, and loving myself and the people in my life.”

“I don’t have goals. I don’t have ambition. I only want to be attractive.”

According to Forbes, millennials value flexibility and freedom, and GenZ cares about job security. Read the article and share your thoughts with us. 10 Ways to Attract Young Talent to Your Company »

Managing Inflation for Small Businesses

With inflation at a 40-year high and the Feds pulling their rabbit out of the hat to battle inflation to slow the economy (raise the short term interest rate) through manipulation of its monetary policy, it may take a recession to bring prices under control. And all this on heels of a worldwide pandemic, employee issues, soaring fuel prices and supply chain woes.

While it’s painful, it’s not new. Inflation can be considered a “by-product” of money. In ancient Rome, when the emperor couldn’t pay his bills, he decreed that the (solid) silver denarius be made as only a copper coin thinly plated in silver. With the coin now having less value (less silver) Roman merchants demanded more and more denarii in exchange for goods and the coin’s intrinsic value declined. 

When the American Revolution started, the Continental Congress could not afford to buy weapons, outfit soldiers, and pay for a full scale war…so they printed fiat money — paper money made legal tender simply by government decree. Like Bitcoin without high tech.

Just last March, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce surveyed random small-business owners to discover that 85% of respondents said that inflation is a concern, and 1-in-3 respondents rank inflation as their #1 concern. A full 63% have supply chain issues, and 67% have raised prices in response to inflationary pressure.

The numbers were similar across the country and spared no geographical regions or business sectors — it appears we are all in this together.

Because it costs us more to run our business, we need to raise prices to customers in order to offset the increase, and we must hunker down and accept tighter profit margins to remain profitable over time.

Eventually, business should return to normal. Before it does, here are suggestions from the experts at Forbes

  • Resist the urge to wait it out.
  • Review your gross profit margins on a product or service basis.
  • Look for opportunities to save.
  • Have a process to increase prices as needed to maintain adequate profit margins.
  • Resist the urge to be a martyr.

Be advised to view pricing as a “formulaic decision” — based on target profit margins that are sustainable. The endgame is this: price your goods and services to allow the business to continue to grow and scale.” Adapt, don’t fail.

Growing a Small Business is Like Gardening

We were curious about the timing to make the most of our backyard vegetable garden, and it got us thinking about the similarity between a successful backyard garden and a successful small business. Success in the garden has as much to do with “when” you plant as it does with “what” you plant. Timing is everything. Good timing requires a plan and every plan has steps.

How to Grow Your Small Business

STEP 1. Build a firm foundation. 

Raised beds work better because they sit atop the ground, are filled with the correct soil, drain better, and maintain a warmer soil. Because of the smart foundation, plants growing in raised beds have a better chance at success from seed to the table. Is your small business built on as firm a foundation? Is each component of success — product, market, money, and people — contributing to a firm foundation?

STEP 2. Timing is everything.

To make the most of the growing season, we learn which plants can tolerate early spring’s cooler soils (broccoli and cabbage) and which prefer warmer temps (beans and cucumbers). A new employee that appears at first to be a slow learner, may turn into a superstar given nourishment at the right time.

STEP 3. Wait for it.

Growing a garden doesn’t happen overnight, and there’s also no such thing as an “overnight success” in business. Living things have a mind of their own. Employees and customers both refuse to be forced, but are open to persuasion. Stay flexible and willing to make changes. Like in the garden, plants can be dug up and moved around until sunlight or bedding soil inspires them to blossom.

STEP 4. Pull the weeds.

Gardens get weeds because of a) too many spaces unfilled, b) too much mulch, c) too much space between plants, or d) too much water or fertilizer. Those pesky weeds steal nutrients from the soil and block out life-giving sunshine, not unlike an unreliable employee or an irrationally dissatisfied or overly needy customer. Weeds keep the rest of the garden from thriving and spread their complaining or poor attitudes to others. 

Gardening requires that we get our hands dirty. It creates an awareness of the present moment and what is happening around us. It’s been said that when we learn to deal with plants, we put ourselves in a better position to deal with people, no matter what we’re growing.