Hiring experts explain how small businesses can survive and what applicants are looking for

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Though North Carolina’s unemployment rate has fallen from 13.5 percent to 4.3 since the beginning of the pandemic, many employers say they are still short staffed.

According to hiring specialist, Khalilah Olokunola, many businesses haver had to personalize the hiring process, being more flexible and offering incentives. Even still, many businesses are struggling.

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“You know for the first time I think in the industry of human resource or of people in general, we found that the buyer has more leverage than the seller,” Olokunola said.

According to Olokunola, the job market is not what it used to be. With the scales tipped in workers’ favor, some employers will have to change their workplace standards.

“People aren’t interested in coming inside the building,” she continued. “They’re looking for more hybrid workspace. Flexibility. They want to work from home.”

Businesses increase pay if they can afford it. If not, they lose their competitive edge in the workplace market.

“It’s hard to pay that kind of money when you don’t make that kind of money,” Olokunola explained. “Because that means you have to increase the prices of products and the food you serve.”

Even offering incentives, Clean Juice in Mayfair is still struggling to find and keep employees. Allen Tyndall, owner of two Clean Juices and City Bicycle Company says he’s spread thin.

“Managers in both of our locations here for Clean Juice are working alone,” Tyndall said over the phone as he drove to cover another shift. “I have to go fill in for a bit at our bicycle shop because we’ve had a few people leave. We’re closing early at one of our locations. We had a last minute no show earlier today.”

Tyndall says he feels there is a constant, anxiety-ridden weight on his chest.

“We don’t know if people are going to show up,” he admitted. “We don’t know if they’re going to leave in the middle of a shift.”

For this to end, Olokunola says employees and employers will have to meet in the middle. Businesses might have to raise pay, prices, and offer more flexibility. Job applicants will need to resolve to work.

“People have been taken care of. And I think that that played a role in how the job market looks. And so I think right now, we have to take care of the businesses.”