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Best of Both Worlds?

“A record 85 per cent of Australian businesses report staff shortages are holding back their ability to operate at full capacity and capitalise on the $245 billion in household savings stashed away during the pandemic.
Competition for workers is adding upward pressure to wages and prices, with the Reserve Bank of Australia on Wednesday bringing forward its guidance for when interest rates would rise.”

Ronald Mizen, Financial Review Feb 3, 2022

How frustrating for business owners. Two years of reduced and restricted trade, then finally allowed to open up and make some money; and you can’t because there are no staff available. Wave after wave of hoping this time of closing or operating at lower capacity is the last time. Stretching your limits on your overdraft and your patience, spending more time applying for government assistance than servicing your clientele.

Then you finally hit the accelerator and someone hits the brakes again!

It has been really hard for businesses of all sizes, with small business hit really hard, as they have not had the comfort of a head office or international backer to help keep staff on board. And as things dragged on we all became accustomed to uncertainty. No one likes it, however constant change has become the new normality.

Masks on, masks off. Businesses open, businesses closed. Regional areas isolated, then open. Check in, don’t worry. Shops open, shelves empty. And of course, toilet paper available, toilet paper scarce!

Remember though that sometimes change can be a good thing, and for regional areas such as Ballarat, it may be time to take advantage of some of these dramatic changes.

As we know, a lot of people moved from Melbourne to the Regions over the last 2 years. The lure of open space, less lockdowns, and working from home caused a mass exodus from the city to the country. However now that many people are doing hybrid work and expected at the office at least sometimes, imagine how much of a shock that commute must be.

Especially when fuel is so expensive that the Government is actually lowering their fuel taxes, the roads are busy again, and new Covid variants make public transport risky!

How much easier will it be to lure a city worker to become a regional worker when they will save time, money and not have as much risk of catching Covid by staying close to home when working.

And this years’ Budget has actually recognised Regional areas (at least a little bit) with a newly announced Regional Home Guarantee. This will provide 10,000 Guarantees to allow people who have not owned a home for five years to buy a new property outside a major city with a deposit of as little as 5 percent.

It is commonly known, and at least partially accurate that wages tend to be higher if you are working in the big smoke. But Covid has made many people think about what really matters to them. And being safe, close to home, amongst the trees or near the water, and enjoying every moment is becoming a higher priority for a lot of people. So start attracting the talent you need with lifestyle instead of just money.

The best businesses don’t compete on price, they have a point of difference that means they are worth paying more for. So maybe it is a good idea to start pitching to the people you want with those advantages that the regions can offer that Melbourne just can’t. Don’t assume that higher salaries are the only bargaining tool.

Have you heard the newbies talking about their lives in the Country?

“Should have done it sooner.”

“Never going back.”

“I love it here!”

And yes, the occasional person who says they miss working in an office in town.

But if your business doesn’t have a big office in town, then guess what? Covid has also brought Coworking hubs back to the forefront. They have been around for a while, however the popularity is growing as many workers who still want an office hum, fast internet and a coffee shop nearby are using these hubs as their safer, friendlier, regional alternative to that Bourke Street buzz.

Also just announced in this years’ Budget is a large focus on staff training and development, with businesses which invest in staff and digital technology able to claim large tax deductions.

According to Meghan Biro in Forbes Magazine “An employer who doesn’t focus on learning is going to lose out – in performance, engagement and retention……Development is no longer an optional perk or reserved for only certain positions. It’s expected by today’s talent.”

What could be better than the Government helping you with incentives to help you hire the talent you want and you getting to offer them everything Regional Victoria has to offer with the chance of an affordable home purchase thrown in?

Give it a go, target those recruits and offer the best of both worlds!

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