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Help Wanted: How Arizona’s Small Business Can Attract and Retain Great Employees

After a challenging couple of years for the economy, recovery efforts have been looking up for Arizona as more people return to work and more of the population gets vaccinated. A recent report by the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) revealed that the state replaced 101% of jobs lost during the pandemic, over ten percentage points higher than the national average.

The Phoenix metro area bounced back even more significantly, posting an astounding 105.8% job replacement rate and adding 77,000 jobs in 2021, the third-highest number in the nation. These numbers mirrored other areas of Arizona such as Sierra Vista, Yuma and Lake Havasu City, all which boasted over 100% recovery rates.

The one dim spot was Tucson, which posted a 77.5% recovery rate. Clearly, there’s some work to do in order to get things back to normal, but the impressive recovery rates in Arizona at least provide some comfort after the tumultuous past year.

However, persistent economic problems continue to hamper a full recovery in Arizona and across the nation. Recently, the most significant challenge for small businesses is proving to be the difficulty in finding good workers to fill newly available jobs.

The Department of Labor estimates that there were more than 10 million available jobs open in the US at
the end of 2021, the highest of any time in history. Yet businesses are finding it difficult to find people to fill these positions, due to a variety of issues including the cost of childcare, retiring baby boomers, unemployment benefits, and low wages.

The Great Resignation is real, and it’s causing pain for many small business owners.

At a time when workers are hard to come by, businesses are growing, offering a variety of incentives to attract talent. Some businesses are offering hiring bonuses, while Arizona rolled out a $2,000 bonus for some workers returning from unemployment. Other incentives include increased pay, better benefits, or more niche offerings.

But financial incentives only go so far, and for many small businesses, they may be impossible. However, there are plenty of ways that small businesses can attract great candidates without going broke.


While salaries still entice good workers, opportunities for advancement within an organization can prove just
as valuable, especially among Millennials and Gen Z. Learning opportunities and routes to advancement both attract good candidates and persuade them to stay long term.

According to LinkedIn’s 2021 Workplace Learning Report, employees stayed twice as long at companies with internal mobility versus companies that did not. This is additionally proving to be true during the pandemic, where the largest percentage of hires have been internal.

Providing avenues for advancement can prevent employees from feeling bored and disengaged, while also attracting the types of candidates who want to grow with the business.


We often underestimate how much of our lives are spent in the workplace. An individual spending 40 hours per week in a drama-fueled office while feeling underappreciated probably won’t last long. Over the past decade, the workforce has become just as concerned with where they work as with what kind of work they do.

A Forbes study found that businesses with a positive company culture earned four times more revenue than those who didn’t prioritize employee engagement. A connected workplace culture makes the workday easier for employees and also produces tremendous benefits for your business.
A positive culture starts with modeling the behavior you want to see in the workplace. That means getting to know employees on a personal level, understanding their goals, and helping them reach those goals. It’s better to be seen as a mentor than a boss. This helps develop a supportive culture where employees collaborate rather than compete.

Employees were twice as likely to interview for another position if they didn’t feel recognized by management, according to a TINYpulse study. A similar study by Qualtrics found that employees were five times as likely to continue working for their current employer if they felt recognized.

Appreciation is easy and doesn’t cost a thing. For the sake of your new recruits, and your business, create the conditions for a positive environment and make your employees, and recruits, feel valued.


The devastation and instability of the pandemic caused many of us to reevaluate our relationship with work. Additionally, increased childcare responsibilities meant that, for many people, going to an office was no longer possible. A 2021 survey by Apollo Technical discovered that 81% of those surveyed believe their employer will continue to support remote work after COVID-19.

As a result, businesses have shifted to accommodate the evolving needs of their workforce. A survey from Willis Towers Watson shows that 61% of employers have instituted greater flexibility measures to attract better candidates. In parallel, 58% of employers have increased their geographic area of recruitment, implying that more businesses are open to remote work.

Think about how your business can fit the flexibility needs of your workforce. Can some, or all, of the work be done remotely? For some industries, remote working is not feasible, but there are other ways to offer flexibility, such as flexible scheduling or unlimited Paid Time Off (PTO).


Increasingly, employees want to feel part of something bigger than themselves, to work for a company that they believe in. Rather than just making a living, our careers have become a way to live out our ideals.

That’s why it’s more important than ever for your business to have a mission that goes beyond earning profit. Sure, we all want to make enough money to be comfortable, but what’s beyond that? Candidates want to know.

According to LinkedIn, 75% of job seekers research a company’s reputation online before applying. Meanwhile, LinkedIn also found that 72% of recruiters agree that an employer’s brand has a strong effect on hiring.

This is a time to reflect on your business and figure out why it’s a special place to work. What do you stand for? Whatever the answer may be, be sure to highlight your mission in all your business’ branding, including your website and job listings.

Remember that you’re not hiring a worker. You’re hiring a person. Consequently, you’ll want to ensure that new hires fit with your company culture, along with possessing the required skills of the job. The best way to ensure a good fit is through having a clear sense of your company’s purpose.

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