AUSTIN (KXAN) — Between empty store shelves and problems getting teachers in classrooms, right now it feels like Central Texas and, really, the entire country is experiencing the impacts of the labor shortage. This has been especially hard for small business owners as they try to find and retain talent.

For the past two years, as people have tried to dodge COVID while balancing work and personal lives, many are choosing to leave their job. John Waldmann, CEO and Founder of Homebase — a software company that helps small businesses streamline workflows — said people can expect the shortage to last well into 2022.

“Over the last two years, you’ve had a lot more people retire than you typically would in a normal period of time, you had lower immigration that really cuts down on the supply side,” Waldmann said. “On the state at the same time, you’ve had 30% of hourly workers that we’ve surveyed, have, at one point had to call out sick due to COVID.”

This is a hit to the local economy, Waldmann said.

“It’s hard for new businesses to start if they can’t hire. It is hard for growing businesses to expand if they can’t hire. All of these things mean our growth and our local businesses and our local economies has a little bit of a limiter on it right now,” he said. “And that’s true in Austin as well.”

Waldmann said businesses are adapting by turning to technology to streamline work flow and giving workers more control. “We’re seeing a lot of creativity, both in the types of benefits that they’re embracing — things like creating schedule flexibility, giving people access to their pay before payday — but also just offering more of them.”

There’s also something everyone can do to help out during these times of staffing shortages.

“Be patient. Be kind to everybody who’s working right now,” Waldmann said. “They’re trying their best.”