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How tweaking your hiring approach can attract, retain workers

By |  March 9, 2022
Money alone will not attract new workers and keep existing employees on the job. Photo: AndreyPopov/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty IMAGES

Money alone will not attract new workers and keep existing employees on the job. Photo: AndreyPopov/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

There are many ways to attract and retain workers. Ensuring your pay scale is competitive and includes fringe benefits such as help with health insurance, flexible hours, occasional parties and help with child care.

Aggregate producers may even want to tailor the solutions, with the first step being to find out what employees want.

With some workers who quit saying they won’t return to their old jobs and others saying they won’t work for any amount of money, employers need to approach this challenge with creativity and open ears. Some experts believe the future of the workplace involves “personalized employment,” providing targeted incentives and greater flexibility to attract workers.

Among the more common, tax-free employee fringe benefits right now are:

Adequate compensation, including benefits

Flexible working hours and, if possible, location

Career growth opportunities and options for continuing education and training

An increased focus on quality of life, including adequate holiday time and, in some cases, help with child care logistics

Good working conditions

Sensitivity to mental and physical health concerns, including burnout, exhaustion and increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 or one of its variants

Obviously, employers cannot meet every need or anticipate each unique situation. What they can do is focus on results.

Hiring the unhirable

Aggregate producers may want to consider the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) as a hiring pathway.

The WOTC is a federal tax credit available to employers to hire individuals from targeted groups that have traditionally faced barriers to employment. These groups include qualified veterans, ex-felons, summer youth employees, long-term family assistance, long-term unemployment recipients and Supplemental Security Income recipients.

Available until the end of 2025, the credit ranges from $2,400 up to $9,600 depending on the targeted group and qualified wage paid to the new employee. Generally, the credit is 40 percent of qualified first-year wages for individuals who work 400-plus hours in their first year of employment.

The bottom line

Although many people remain without jobs, it is still difficult to fill open jobs.

Businesses that rely on hourly or in-person employees face unique challenges, as they lack either the resources or the flexibility to meet worker demands. Fortunately, small businesses have the advantage of being able to provide flexibility and personalization more quickly than large employers.

It is generally cheaper to keep an existing worker than hire a new one. Thus, for hourly workers and workers in positions where remote work is not an option, employers can focus on creating short-term incentives and improving the overall satisfaction of a given position.

One evolving method to deal with the tough labor market involves working without workers. In other words, businesses are stepping up the automation of their operations.

The government – particularly U.S. tax law – provides a much-needed helping hand with the cost of automating. Current tax laws offer a first-year expensing option that allows amounts spent for new or used equipment to be entirely written off or deducted immediately.

Unfortunately, in order to deduct something, there must be income from which it can be deducted – something far too many businesses lack. The alternative for those automation expenditures is the tried-and-true depreciation deduction. Depreciation creates a writeoff for a portion of those costs annually, when the recovering business will hopefully have income that needs reduction.

In order to attract talented individuals to work within an aggregate operation, as well as to retain qualified employees, employers in today’s job market must consider offering increased wages, fringe benefits and other perks. With the help of professional guidance, the most successful options could well be the ones that cost the business the least.

Mark E. Battersby is a freelance writer who specializes in taxes and finance.

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