Four million people woke up last month and decided it would be their last day of work. If you're like most small business owners I talk to, you've had almost zero of those respond to your hiring efforts.

Where did they all go after they quit?

This question is puzzling for most of my colleagues because the answer is: Nowhere. Historically people quit their job when they get a better offer or when life circumstances change when they move when something big happens. People are largely burnt out and don't know what they want to do next. The one thing they're sure of is, they don't want to do what they've been doing. And the morning, they wake up and realize that they can't get out quickly enough. There's no pay raise, promotion, or schedule change that's saving them because they've been gone for a long time. The pandemic has shifted the way we look at everything. While large organizations squabble over their remote work arrangements and figure out how to “get productivity back,” they fail to realize their employees have slowly disconnected from the vision, the purpose and lost all desire to sit through another zoom meeting.

What is it they're looking for?

Another tricky question because I don't think they know. Every month millions are quitting their jobs, but the labor force number continues to show negative growth. Many Americans can afford to take a break, and they are.

How do I get them to work for me?

I said I don't think they know. But I think deep down you know what they want. You just have to take a moment to remember it. Think about the first team you ever had. Likely you worked them too many hours for too little pay, and yet they soldiered for you like few you've ever seen before or since. Why is that? How did you run your business differently than you do today? These are deep questions you need to take time to ask yourself, but the good news is, once you figure it out, you can light a fire that will be nothing short of contagious.

Why small businesses are winning the race?

Small business owners have spent much of the last decade trying to compete with large companies. Bean bag work environments, stand-up meetings, all-you-can-eat cereal bars, company outings (admit it, you've tried a few of these). Because we've seen all the big companies steal away great talent, and this seemed like the obvious reasons. Copying may have worked a few years ago, but now that people are mass leaving large companies, it's time for small businesses to remember what makes us different. A vision, and passion, that people can connect with locally. Something they can be a part of. A place where they can see actual improvement take place before their eyes. They can see growth, not just on a chart in a zoom call, but because they see foot traffic increase and shipments going out. They want to be a part of something that matters. And what could matter more than the small business that's bringing normality back to their home town! If you haven't figured it out yet … your next employee isn't looking at your job page. They are one of your customers. You need to impress every one of your customers so much that it occurs to them that they might want to work for you. You (and your team) need to share the vision of what you're doing as an organization, where you are going, what your dreams are so that your CUSTOMER makes the connection and says: I want to be the person who does that.

How do I pay for my new staff?

One of the only positive things to come out of the pandemic is a flood of new cash flow incentives for small and mid-sized businesses. Most companies don't know where to start, maybe you took advantage of the PPP program, but you wouldn't know where to look beyond that. Using software that helps find all of these programs to stay focused on growing your business is key.

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