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Creative Staffing Solutions for Small Businesses

As a small business owner in an era of staffing shortages, finding good workers quickly is more difficult than ever. You may have to keep your small business running by hiring outside the usual pool. Even with abundant job opportunities, many employers overlook potential creative staffing solutions, and capable workers go unhired. Here are some examples of Central Ohio organizations that found creative solutions to staff local businesses and provide jobs.



Family members and friends of clients

Josephine Talieh is the owner of sister agencies Provider Health Services and Golden Provider Services, providing care to the elderly and individuals with developmental disabilities.

Short-staffed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the opening of a higher-paying Amazon distribution center, Talieh came up with a clever plan to train, certify, and hire family members of her clients. This not only solved Talieh’s staffing issue  — her clients now have caretakers   with a personal stake in the client’s wellbeing.

Even though Talieh's creative solution might not work for everyone, customers, especially regulars, can potentially offer great leads.

Customers who love your product or service are invested in your business' success and survival. Asking them if they know someone who'd make a good employee could be an ideal way to find the right worker. An additional bonus to this method is you can find someone whom a business peer can vouch for.



USTogether, an Ohio nonprofit, partners with The Columbus Foundation, OSU, and others to place New Americans in local jobs. "We often hear and tell the stories of struggle, persecution, torture, survival," said Nadia Kasvin, Co-Founder of USTogether. "Our journey continues, and stories of our successes should be told too."

According to USTogether, "41.8% of refugees age 18 and older are currently enrolled in college or have graduated from college, compared to 43.0% of all Franklin County residents age 18 and older; this suggests that refugees in the community are just as well-educated as the rest of the population." New Americans are capable of far more than the “unskilled” jobs they are often relegated to.

If you'd like to hire New Americans, contact USTogether.



Individuals with Disabilities

Growlers Dog Bones sells dog treats with grains from local breweries and employs people with disabilities to produce them in Columbus. This group is wildly overlooked for employment compared to the non-disabled population. Even in a strong economy, people with disabilities are underemployed and have fewer opportunities for promotion, according to Forbes.

If you're interested in hiring people with disabilities, The Office of Disability Employment Policy is a good place to start.


Survivors of Sex Trafficking

A rosemary breakfast sandwich, a bacon quiche, and plenty of in-house baked goods are just a few delicious choices offered at Freedom A La Cart Café + Bakery. This restaurant employs and empowers survivors "to build lives of freedom and self-sufficiency."

If you want to add survivors to your workforce, check out Futures Without Violence or a local survivor-assistance group.


People Recovering from Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Although the Americans with Disabilities Act is supposed to protect those recovering from addiction from employment discrimination, this often doesn't work in practice.

Greg Hargett, proprietor of Columbus' CITA Social Enterprises, aims to fix the problem. He employs those in active recovery to detail and clean automobiles in both fleet and individual capacities. "At CITA, we envision a world where every person experiencing addiction is welcomed in the workplace, restored into society, and thriving in their recovery," Hargett said.

If you'd like to hire people in recovery, contact Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services.


The Formerly Incarcerated

According to the Legal Action Center, "nearly 75% of formerly incarcerated individuals are still unemployed a year after release" because of the stigma attached to a conviction record.

In Columbus, FIT to Navigate and Hot Chicken Takeover hire restored citizens as a matter of policy. In addition to providing job opportunities to community members who are often overlooked, your business may be eligible for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, an incentive to hire from this pool of workers.

If you're interested in hiring restored citizens, contact TAPP Ohio, a program partnering these individuals with local businesses.


People Who've Aged out of Foster Care

What The Waffle isn't your average breakfast spot. In addition to being featured on The Food Network's "Best Waffles in the Country" list, the restaurant trains and hires young women who have aged out of the foster care system. This population faces a higher risk of joblessness and homelessness.

What the Waffle aims to "ensure they have the skills, knowledge, and access to resources to reach their full potential in life."

If you'd like to employ people in this situation, contact your government’s Child Welfare agency.


If you're facing a staffing shortage, investigate some of these creative solutions. Consider looking outside the typical pool. You might find the perfect employee through nontraditional means or by giving opportunities to stigmatized populations.

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