Hearing Small and Midsize Business Employers Out

A Call to Action for Employees

Samin Saadat
Executive Director, Posted on Mar 20, 2023

In recent years, there has been a significant focus on prioritizing the well-being of employees and taking their perspectives into account by sharing concepts such as 4 Day work week, Quiet Quitting. Listen to Employees and Employees’ well-being. Although this is undoubtedly a positive shift and we constantly train and empower employers to listen to their employees and adjust their approach accordingly, it is equally crucial to acknowledge the voices of small and midsize business (SMB) employers.

When employees actively learn about their employer's position, it can provide them with a deeper understanding, that empowers them to take initiative and offer valuable suggestions and solutions. This can not only drive the success of the business but also enhance their own career growth.

As the founder of Jalapeño Employee Engagement,  I firmly believe in the shared responsibility of employers and employees to support each other in achieving success. While we train employees on becoming self-driven and engaged, it is equally important for employers to fulfill their duties in fostering employee excellence.

Having worked closely with several SMB founders, I possess a comprehensive understanding of the unique challenges and responsibilities associated with managing a business of this size. Thus, this blog series targets companies with 5-80 employees, aiming to provide greater clarity on the dynamics between employers and employees and how they can work together to create a win-win situation.

This article aims to delve into the needs and pressures that small and midsize business (SMB) employers face. Below are some of the most common examples:

Employers Cannot Have a Bad Day at Work

As an SMB employer, there is no room for a bad day. One mistake, one snap, or one angry outburst can come back to haunt them. Alas, an employer cannot afford to show up at work at anything less than 100%. There are no sick days or personal days, as the business depends on their leadership and presence. The pressure can be overwhelming, and the constant need to perform can take a toll on the employer’s mental and physical health.

Employers Cut Down Their Own Salary to Secure Their Employees' Position

SMB employers understand the value of their employees and are willing to go to great lengths to secure their position. They often put their employees' needs before their own and cut down their salaries to maintain the workforce. They pay their employees first and take the last piece of the pie. This is a sign of responsible leadership and dedication to the team's success and their business.

Employers Are Managing a Lot More Responsibilities and Challenges

SMB employers have to juggle multiple responsibilities and challenges to keep their businesses running. They are not just managing the day-to-day operations but also handling finance, marketing, sales, and HR. They may not have a dedicated team or resources to delegate responsibilities to, and the buck stops with them. The challenges they face are different from those of larger corporations, and they require a unique set of skills to overcome.

Employers Are Recognizing the Connection Between Employee Contributions and Business Success

Employees often seek greater flexibility, higher pay, and fewer working hours, and these requests are understandable.  it's important for employees to recognize that their compensation is directly linked to the success of the business, which is determined by their contributions through their role. Employers must carefully balance the financial health of their company with the needs of their employees, which requires a delicate balancing act. By understanding the challenges and sacrifices that SMB employers make to ensure the success of their business, employees can develop a deeper appreciation for their work and be more engaged and committed to achieving shared goals. It's crucial for employees to recognize their role in contributing to the company's growth and profitability, and to work collaboratively with their employer to strike a balance between their own needs and the financial well-being of the business.

Employers Are Taking a Lot More Risk Than You Think

Starting an SMB requires a significant amount of personal and financial investment. SMB employers often take out loans, invest their savings, and risk their reputations to build their businesses. If the business fails, they bear the consequences, not just financially, but also emotionally. The stress of running a business can take a toll on their personal lives, affecting their relationships and health. The risks employers take are not always visible, but they are significant.

Employers Are Providing Opportunities They Wish They Had From Their Own Bosses

SMB owners have typically learned their trade through self-teaching and experience. Employers recognize the importance of resources, opportunities, and a supportive environment for making mistakes, and they strive to offer these benefits to their employees. However, it can be disheartening for them to witness their staff taking these opportunities for granted, as they themselves yearned for such support from their own bosses.

SMB owners acknowledge that they cannot manage every task or issue that arises in their enterprise. Instead, they rely on their employees to be proactive and co-create strategies and processes to tackle problems and propel the company forward.

Employers Can Get Extremely Lonely

SMB employers face a unique set of challenges that can be difficult to manage alone. As SMB owners, they often carry the weight of their business on their shoulders, making critical decisions that can impact their employees and the future of their company. While they may have a team of employees to support them, they may not have a network of peers to understand them. This isolation can be compounded by the pressure to maintain a strong public image and avoid vulnerability.

Many SMB employers feel that it is not safe to share their fears or insecurities with others, fearing that it may make them appear weak or incompetent. This lack of support and understanding can take a toll on their mental health, leaving them feeling lonely, anxious, and unmotivated. As a result, it is essential to create a culture of empathy and understanding in which SMB employers can feel safe to be vulnerable and seek support from their peers and networks.

How to Support SMB Employers?

While it may be true that SMB employers chose this path and accepted the challenge of running a business, it is essential to acknowledge the crucial role they play in the economy and provide them with the support they need.

By recognizing employers’ unique challenges and responsibilities, we can create a more empathetic and supportive environment in which SMB employers can thrive. Investing in their growth and well-being not only benefits them but also contributes to a more vibrant and resilient economy. Therefore, it is essential that we value and support SMB employers who have dedicated their lives to building businesses and creating jobs for others.

About the Author: The human brain, behaviour and interactions with their environment never fail to intrigue Samin Saadat. After spending long hours in psychology labs at UBC and completing her Masters at the Sauder School of Business, she entered the workforce and observed a gap between what research suggests and what companies actually do to increase productivity and profitability. Over the last 10 years, Samin has developed expertise in people growth and culture building by working closely with business owners and individuals to develop the right mindset, skills and environment for cultivating a thriving workforce. Also, Samin strongly believes every single individual, regardless of their race, age, status, gender, position, mental health matters and physical conditions deserves to reach their full potential and they all have something unique to offer. Now, Samin is on a mission to bridge the existing gap in the workforce and support individuals and companies to reach their full potential through Jalapeño Employee Engagement—leveraging technology and psychology to bring research findings to life to help companies save invaluable dollars and to help individuals enhance their quality of life.