Today’s Employment Landscape is an Adapt or Die Proposition for Small Businesses 

Until the market constricts, the labor force is still driving costs. Case in point, my local car wash is paying $16 an hour. And if you look at this sign even closer, you will see that companies are adjusting their hiring practices on the fly to try and meet the demand for their services. 

You’ll notice their initial pay offering for new hires was $15 an hour AFTER they had worked for 90 days. That part has been taped over. The implication is that expecting an employee to prove themselves before a raise has somehow gone out of vogue, as has a more selective screening process.  This reminds me of a parody video I saw years ago mocking our younger worker pool who walked into the boss’ office to hand in a task they had just completed.  The employee then stands there expectedly in the office until the supervisor offers them an immediate raise just for doing their job. 

In today’s hiring culture, businesses are indeed getting dealt a new and unfamiliar hand. Even with a possible recession on the horizon, the job market is full of potential employees who feel no more urgency than dipping their toe in the job market. And because of the pandemic, a now built-in reluctance to even come back to the office is still very real. 

A friend who started a business 15 years ago told me his first hire occurred at Panera because he was still looking for office space. He said the initial interview went well, even despite the fact that the prospective employee stopped at the counter, picked up a sandwich and ate it throughout the interview. My friend shrugged his shoulders and hired the guy anyway, who turned out to be one of his most loyal employees. In today’s culture, that same guy would not only eat the sandwich in a meeting but would probably want it paid for and served to him at your office, assuming he even shows up for the interview. Welcome to the adapt-or-die hiring model. 

This mentality is not mutually exclusive with lowering your standards. It means that as business owners we’re dealing with on a daily basis, where employees are few and jobs are plenty. This means employers are now having to scuttle any semblance of a dress code, be open to offering more flexible hours and be more engaged with the needs of their employees.

The trick though is to stay true to your hiring philosophy while managing these additional obstacles, and there’s simply no substitute for effort. If you are an intentional and thoughtful leader and are sincere by offering more than the occasional token “pizza Fridays,” employees will flock to you and your company will have survived this new employment reality.