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5 Tips for tackling a skills or labour shortage in your business

If your business has been affected by a skills or labour shortage, here are some ways you can take action to keep your business thriving.

One of the many ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the shortage of skilled or available workers across many industries. Some workers may have changed careers or industries, others may have moved away or perhaps your industry used to attract workers from interstate or overseas but has faced challenges doing that in recent times.

With the unemployment rate at a historic low, a different approach is needed for many businesses to bridge the labour gap. We’ve come up with five ways you can tackle a skills shortage in your business.

Tip 1: Identify the staffing needs of your business

When you need extra help to run your business, take a closer look at the kind of skills and support you need. Do you just need someone to work weekends so you can finally have some time off, or maybe you have extra shifts to fill at certain times during the week? Could your business needs be filled by a casual staff member or contractor, or is it essential you find a part- or full-time resource?

There could be certain duties that you may be able to outsource rather than recruit new staff to fulfill. For example, you might decide you need help with administration duties which you could engage a virtual assistant to work on remotely.

Tip 2: Plan for success


Before you decide to recruit more staff, take a look at your future plans for your business. If you’re likely to move locations, expand your range of products and services or extend your opening hours, these are all factors you need to balance with building your team.

For example, if you run a café and you have been considering opening for dinner service, you would need to make sure you can staff these extended hours before you advertise to customers. In the short term, you might decide to work on attracting more lunchtime customers when you already have the team to serve them, or expand your breakfast menu to increase your customer base that way. Every business is different and it’s important to factor your staffing levels into your overall planning.

As part of your planning, it could be worth exploring training pathways through traineeships and apprenticeships. Your business could be eligible for financial subsidies as an employer, such as the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program.

Tip 3: Support your existing team

It’s usually a lot more cost-effective to keep your existing staff on board than have a high turnover and a constant need to replace them. There could be some simple ways to look after your team and help create a great workplace for everyone. For example, maybe you could start a simple birthday tradition or begin each of your meetings with some kind of celebration of the team’s wins that week. You may also need to consider whether you need to pay above the award rate, to retain good staff.

Share with your team the skills challenges you’re facing. They may be willing to take on extra shifts without you needing to recruit new staff members or be upskilled through training or mentoring programs.

Find out more about our range of workshops, which could help you or your team to learn new skills in sales and marketing, health and safety, financial management and a wide range of other areas.

Tip 4: Promote your business as an employer

When you need to recruit new staff, create a clear description of the duties you expect your new team member to complete. Outline the hours of work and the general conditions or perks they might enjoy, and share the values which are important to your business.

Building a successful team is about finding the right person for the right role. Once you work out what kind of help you need, you can recruit people from a range of backgrounds, cultures and skills, including mature-aged people and people with disabilities, to find the help you need.

To promote your job offering, use online platforms such as westernaustralia.jobs. This website has been created specifically to support hospitality and tourism small business owners in WA by connecting employers with a range of skilled workers.

You might also like to explore our tips for hiring your first employee and 6 tips to handle job applications.

Tip 5: Use your networks

Make sure you tell your staff, customers, suppliers and even social media followers when you’re hiring. These are all people who support your products or services in various ways – and they could be the best pool of talent for you to draw from.

For example, if you send a monthly email out to your customer database, you might include a mention of the role you’re looking to fill and a link to where people can find out more. People who already love your products and services could be really excited by the chance to join your team or they might know somebody who could be a perfect fit for the role.


This article is republished from the Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC) website. The SBDC is a WA State Government agency that supports small business. Please read the disclaimer before relying on this information, which has been developed primarily with Western Australian businesses in mind.


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