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Report: Most small businesses plan to hire in 2011

Despite the latest jobs report that shows employers added fewer jobs in May than expected, a majority of small businesses (57%) say they plan to hire this year, according to a new survey from Manta, the world’s largest online community for promoting and connecting small business. Manta continues to solidify its position as the leading provider of information on and for SMBs and holds the No.3 ranking by comScore in the business news/research category. Manta’s SMB Nation Survey queried 1,016 small business owners — the majority of whom have less than 10 employees (892) — about the unique challenges they face regarding hiring and managing employees.

While small businesses are hiring, the Manta SMB Nation Survey says they’re struggling to recruit top candidates. Small business owners report the greatest hurdle is compensation (27%, larger companies can offer higher salaries), followed closely by a limited talent pool (26%, top candidates don’t want to work for a small company), and limited advancement opportunities (15%, candidates perceive little chance to move up).

In an ironic twist of economic fate, 15% of the small business owners said the improving economy works against them when hiring because candidates anticipate more job openings and better opportunities with larger companies.

“The best news revealed in our survey is that small business owners are hiring,” said Pamela Springer, president and CEO of Manta. “Managing a staff has always been challenging for SMBs, but it’s much more difficult in today’s ‘do more with less’ economy. Manta provides a resource to get companies found online, and also makes essential connections with potential customers, partners and even employees, helping make the task of finding job candidates less daunting.”

Despite the proliferation of online job boards, the majority of business owners (59%) will depend on time-honored strategies such as networking via colleagues, friends and family to find candidates. Forty-one percent reported they will seek direct referrals from current employees.

Additional findings of Manta’s SMB Nation Survey include:

Experience Counts: After SMBs find candidates they like, 43% said experience is the most important secondary factor when deciding to make an offer, while 24% said personality, 12% go with their gut instinct and 8% rely on references. Surprisingly, education is almost a non-factor, with only 3% deeming it an important secondary factor.

Family Ties: Fifty-one percent of respondents reported working with family. Of those, 37% said they treat them the same as all employees, while 32% said they try to treat them the same but that it can be hard. Twenty-seven percent said they are harder on family than other employees.

Motivation Is a Challenge: Thirty-four percent said motivation is their biggest challenge when it comes to employee management, followed by training (25%), and enforcement of workplace policies (19%).

But Motivation Is a Must: Twenty-eight percent said they motivate their employees with rewards, and 27% give flex hours. Thirteen percent allow workers to work at home, 7% provide affordable perks and 5% give time off for a job well done.

Finally, according to the SMBs surveyed, sloppy grooming is the most annoying personal attribute an employee can have in today’s workplace. Talking too much on the phone with a spouse, partner or kids is the second most annoying habit (29%), followed by an unkempt work area (9%) and reeking of cigarette smoke after a break (8%). Employees needn’t worry if they bring their daughter’s Girl Scout cookie order form into work; only 1% of the business owners surveyed said fundraising on behalf of a child’s organization was an annoying offense.


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