Dec. 16, 2011 - When it comes to seeking out and
securing great staff, 69 per cent of Canadian small business owners are
confident in their ability to attract and keep good employees; however,
when hiring, one in 10 (11 per cent) of SBOs reported never finding the right
person and 28 per cent had the job open for up to three months before
finding the appropriate candidate.
The quarterly American Express Small Business Monitor reveals that
almost three-quarters (74%) believe it is getting harder to find good
employees and 64 per cent of SBOs believe the demands of today's job
applicants exceed their qualifications. The majority (84%) of small
business owners do believe they keep their best and brightest
employees, but fewer (64%) say they consistently hire the best and
brightest in their industry. In fact, only 11 per cent of respondents
strongly agreed that they were able to do so.
The results couldn't be timelier. With much of the Baby Boomer
generation set to retire, nearly half (46%) of Canada's small business
owners anticipate a shortage of qualified job applicants in the coming
years. A further 32 per cent are concerned about the impact this will
have on their operations and 23 per cent expect to replace a
significant proportion of their employees during this time frame.
In fact, nearly two-fifths (39%) of survey respondents believe it will
be difficult to replace retiring employees. Despite this, seven in 10
(69%) haven't put a plan in place to deal with the impending issue,
such as modifying employment practises or offering incentives to
employees to stay on after retirement age.
"Strong talent is the cornerstone of good business, especially small
business, where the right people can mean the difference between a
loyal customer and high turnover," said Abhijeet Rege, Director of
Small Business Services, American Express Canada. "But the survey also
suggests that businesses should start looking to the future by thinking
about the void that will be left as skilled workers start to exit these
SBOs realize money isn't everything
While money is always a motivator in attracting and retaining employees,
small business owners also understand that agile, flexible environments
can better draw this generation's bright minds.
In fact, when asked about what incentives were most effective for small
businesses looking to attract/retain staff, flexible hours were on
equal footing as higher pay - with 72 per cent of respondents ranking
each as effective. Other top effective attraction/retention perks
include: having a dynamic business culture (62%), offering share/stock
options (61%), and better health benefits (54%).
"We've seen changes in the way people are approaching their careers
today, as people become more lifestyle-oriented they are seeking
improved work-life rhythm," said Rege. "The biggest draw of working for
a small business is job independence and flexibility. And while money
remains important, business owners realize it isn't the only factor to
attracting and retaining top talent."
SBOs significantly more confident about current and future financial
While small business benefits might be effective in drawing and keeping
new hires, the owners themselves may still be reaping the greatest
level of satisfaction. The Monitor found that SBOs have experienced a
steady financial position over the last year and are optimistic for the
While they remain risk adverse, 49 per cent of SBOs report their
businesses' current financial position is improving - a two- point
increase over last quarter and a substantial 22-per-cent jump over
2010. In fact, the majority of small business owners (83%) feel the
rewards of running your own business outweigh the risks, with 45 per
cent of them "strongly agreeing" with this statement - up 13 percentage
points from last year.
"What was really exciting for us to see quarter over quarter is that the
majority of business owners still believe - in turbulent economic times
- that the rewards and opportunities of running their own business
still outweigh the risks and challenges," said Rege. "The stability
owners experience has increased significantly in the past year and now,
more than ever, business owners are looking to invest in the future of