While so many Americans are still struggling to find sufficient employment, it seems small businesses are having a particularly hard time filling their available positions.

interview-861513-mIn a recentĀ survey conducted by Robert Half, 60 percent of small business owners responded that their biggest challenge in hiring or managing staff is finding qualified workers to do the job. This response came out way ahead of the next biggest concern, maintaining employee morale and productivity, which received only 19 percent of the responses.

These findings mirror the results of a Wells Fargo Gallup Poll conducted earlier this year. The poll indicated that 53 percent of small business owners were finding it very (23 percent) or somewhat difficult (30 percent) to get the qualified employees they need, and 27 percent responded that the difficulty in hiring qualified employees has hurt their business over the past 12 months.

On the surface, this all seems counter-intuitive. But this trend is likely due to two reasons:

1. The majority of small businesses are relying on out-of-date recruiting and hiring processes. According to the Gallup poll, a mere 15% of small businesses are using the Internet to recruit new hires. The two biggest ways smaller companies are finding talent are via word of mouth (63%) and employee referrals (47%). Depending on the nature of the business, this can seriously limit the pool of potential hires.

Why are small businesses reluctant to use popular online recruiting platforms such as LinkedIn? It could be many have tried it, but were unsuccessful, and those yet to stick their toes in the water are probably overwhelmed by it all. This is a problem because today’s workforce relies on the Internet heavily for many things, including finding a job.

2. There has been a shift in workforce attitude. The fallout from our chronically under-performing economy is that people’s priorities have changed when it comes to what they are looking for in an employment situation. Numerous surveys point to the fact that today’s workforce is primarily concerned with their career advancement. It’s a trend that many small businesses may not have caught on to. Small businesses also have fewer resources than their bigger competitors to offer a desirable benefits package, such as health care benefits and retirement plans.

The bottom line here is that small businesses need to be aware of the changes that are happening among today’s workers if they really want to put all their struggle in hiring behind them.