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Adapting to attract Millennials

Monday December 22, 2014 Written by 
Recruiting and retaining Millennials is important to the success of small businesses, but many struggle to attract younger workers.

According to the latest Quarterly American Express Small Business Monitor, 77 per cent of small business owners (SBOs) believe recruiting and retaining talent is important to their company's success. But 67 per cent believe finding the right candidate for their business is getting harder.

In fact, 26 per cent of owners admit finding a qualified employee keeps them up at night.

Re-evaluating job expectations

The end of baby boomers' working lives is a concern for half of owners who are grappling with the unknown new habits of Millennials. In particular, the top two social forces SBOs believe will influence staffing in the coming five years are aging boomers (51 per cent) and young workers' demands for greater flexibility and new benefits (43 per cent).

Many owners believe their corporate culture is important in recruiting young workers, prompting 69 per cent of these owners to adapt their businesses to appeal to younger workers.

"With the prominent shift in generations, the ability of SBOs to tailor their businesses, offerings and approach to attracting younger staff will be critical," said Athena Varmazis, vice-president and general manager of small business services with American Express Canada. "Remaining competitive and understanding the candidate pool is clearly the best way to attract and retain top talent."

While employers are adapting to the needs of Millennials, half of all SBOs report they're worried about the lack of qualified candidates to replace employees set to retire. Despite expressing concern, one-third (33 per cent) report an improvement in the quality of students fresh out of school.

Big perks for small business employees

Small business owners acknowledge the success of retaining top talent is often dependent on their ability to be competitive, but they also see value in promoting the advantages of working for a small business. In fact, the vast majority of SBOs (93 per cent) agree that small businesses have better relationships between staff and management.

While it's evident there's a great emphasis on creating personalized relationships with employees and creating a culture of innovation, three quarters of SBOs agree small businesses provide more potential for employee growth. Despite over half of SBOs (61 per cent) stating they are at a competitive disadvantage to larger companies when it comes to investing in talent, they continue to attract talent by appealing to the changing needs of candidates.

Northstar Research Partners was commissioned to conduct an online survey with a sample of 548 small business owners, each employing between one and 99 people. The survey was conducted between Oct. 14 and 20. The margin of error for a sample of this size is +/-4.2 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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