Zensiblo Consulting

Surviving the Talent Crisis: What Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Can Do

Hong Kong is currently facing a talent crisis, with businesses of all sizes struggling to attract and retain employees. There are now major gaps in talent pipelines, with a workforce of different expectations and values than before. While the environment is unlikely to change overnight, small and medium-sized businesses can adapt quickly to survive.

For businesses where each function is mostly dependent on one or a few employees, these problems can create chaotic waves. However, there are several things that can be done to ease the pain and help businesses move forward:

  1. Prioritize the work: Focus on the core functions of the business and spare the others if needed. Consider outsourcing or in-sourcing if possible.
  2. Streamline processes: Many businesses still follow their good old processes even when there are opportunities to greatly improve productivity and resource utilization. Take the time to evaluate and improve processes.
  3. Do mini-digital transformation: Leverage low-cost available technologies/tools to automate work. Look into no-code tools. Nowadays, if you can use your smartphone, you can manage it iteratively.
  4. Consider implementing measures to attract and retain employees. Flexible work arrangement is one in the spotlight. While this may go against your deeply held beliefs about running your business, adapting in this area is inevitable. Options include flexible time, hybrid mode, and even a 4-day work week (Yes, it may be counter-intuitive. But the gain in productivity and other benefits make it worth considering). Learning and development activities, such as leadership development, are usually not on the agenda of small and medium-sized businesses. Training is usually more product/service or operation related. While those are still useful, developmental efforts that provide long-term career values shall now be considered.

While the above actions will not solve the talent crisis, they will definitely ease the pain and help small and medium-sized businesses move forward.

If not done yet, offering competitive compensation and benefits packages, as well as opportunities for career growth and advancement, can also help in addressing the talent crisis. This is not an easy task for most small and medium-sized firms.

In the longer term, it is important to also focus on company culture and employee engagement. Creating a positive and supportive work environment can go a long way in attracting and retaining employees.

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