Partners

Filling a Critical Need at a Critical Turning Point

Over the last year, Interise, like many other organizations, jumped into action to provide our alumni companies and other small businesses with the resources and tools they needed to not only survive the pandemic/economic fallout but also develop a plan for recovery. From this came our idea for Small Business STRONGER which was created with the intention of delivering information that fills a critical and immediate need for small businesses.

In recent months, as the world has slowly opened back up, we heard directly from our network instructors, participants, and alumni, that one of the greatest obstacles to recovery was the challenge of staffing. Business owners have found that the processes and tools surrounding everything from recruitment to talent development, retention, rehiring, and remote working, have been in flux since the start of the pandemic. It is no secret that the landscape has changed and we cannot expect business owners to have all the answers.  Interise is known for curating content and resources that are timely, impactful, and provide a path forward to action so we knew we needed to do our part to support these latest queries. 

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Over the span of two weeks, we huddled together and reached out to our extensive network of instructors, partners and experts to to leverage the impact of the proven Small Business STRONGER model that would be focused on employee needs specifically around training, retention, and all human resource issues. The thought was to cater each session to a different aspect of HR that was applicable and relevant to the current times. 

We believed in the idea, tentatively launched a recruitment and, lo and behold, in just over two days we had 260+ registered small businesses. Last week, our idea came to fruition and we ran this new iteration of Interise STRONG that catered to this very specific need. The program was designed so that participants could attend the sessions they felt were most applicable to their needs and invest as much or as little time as they could. 

Over the span of the week we heard from inspiring guest experts on different topics that all spoke to the Employee Lifecycle both amidst the pandemic and now. The reason we chose the ‘Employee Lifecycle’ is because the concept is taught in Session 10 of our StreetWise MBA program. Since Small Business STRONGER caters directly to alumni/current program participants, we felt the familiarity would be helpful and ultimately reinforce the importance of the information while providing the most up to date and relevant resources.

The sessions consisted of curated content presented by a guest speaker, dynamic facilitation, peer-to-peer engagement and direct application of knowledge to action through a Q&A at the end of each meeting. We believe that there are countless opportunities to use the Interise STRONG format to provide timely and relevant deep dives into content that leverages the expertise of our extensive national network. If you are interested in taking advantage of a program like this or interested in supporting our efforts please reach out to dcoyle@interise.org.

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If you are an alumni reading this, please note that this new course is being built out in our InteriseConnect platform where it will house all the session recordings, presentations, session summaries and relevant resources. Additionally, please visit our Small Business Resource Center where you can find several new entries focused directly on the ‘Employee Life Cycle.’

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Feed back:

We asked a group of participants, who attended all 5 of the sessions, a set of questions to better understand why they took the program and what they took away from it.  

  1. What specific HR problem have you been facing that motivated you to sign up for the program?
  2. Which session did you find most helpful as it pertains to your business? Why?
  3. What piece of advice spoke to you the most? Do you plan to implement any of what you learned?
  4. What other support do you need? If there was one class that you could take, what would it be?

We found that the most common answers for question 1 were around finding qualified candidates, committed team members and how to best retain employees. Business owners seemed to agree that hiring and understanding what to offer their employees in the current environment is very challenging. 

In terms of which sessions participants found most helpful, the majority selected either Day 2 (Finding and securing talent) or Day 5 (The future of work and the workplace). It seems the immediate need for business owners at present is understanding how to source and find new talent and better understand how employees are changing their perspectives when it comes to work. 

Moreover, when asked what advice participants resonated with, most participants agreed that the information about onboarding felt practical and tangible to implement moving forward. They also expressed that it was helpful to learn about “whole-life benefits” and that if employers do not deliver it is very common for employees to leave. 

Lastly, when asked what other support they need they expressed interest in courses discussing,

  • Identifying exact staffing needs and developing specific onboarding process to be most successful with our hires
  • Leadership training
  • Courses that focus specifically on employee and business case studies
  • “Finding connections that can expose your business to new channels/segments/markets” or “Succession Planning: How to transition responsibility to a general manager”
  • Hiring

We take feedback and turn it into action. At Interise we work hard to ensure we are giving business owners the tools they NEED to thrive.