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6 Ways Small Business Can Retain Their Best Employees

Liz Alton
June 20, 2017

How to keep your favorite employees happy

Employee retention is especially important when you only have a few staff members. Your employees and their long-term happiness and commitment to your business can make all the difference. Yet small businesses have different concerns and resources.

We spoke to two experts Andreas Widmer, a professor and Director of Entrepreneurship at Catholic University of America and author of The Pope & The CEO, and Rebecca Mazin, author and owner of Recruit Right, to learn more about how small business owners -- particularly care providers -- can keep their best employees happy.

  1. Understand Individual Employee Goals
    Take the time to get to know your employees' goals on a person-by-person basis, both in terms of their performance (with you) and their long-term goals, says Widmer. Knowing what's important to your star performers can help you choose how to reward them. Would a paid educational opportunity be more valued that additional paid time off? Have a frank and ongoing discussion at each annual review period.

  2. Engage Through Communication and Transparency
    Consider letting your employees know how the company is performing. While you may not be able to offer a huge raise, they'll appreciate your open lines of communication and honesty. Mazin has also seen small businesses implement an open book policy when it comes to financials.

  3. Encourage Opportunities for Growth
    Climbing the ladder looks different at a small business than in a large corporation. Yet there are many ways to create opportunities and bigger challenges for motivated employees. "Finding stretch goals is critically important," says Widmer. It could be as simple as letting employees graduate to more complex client cases or take on administrative duties.

  4. Show You Value Them by Getting Them Involved
    Another way to show star performers that you care is by working to involve them in the business. Take the time to solicit their suggestions for how to improve your processes, new services to offer, and how to solve the big problems facing your company. When people's opinions are valued, they're more likely to be happy long-term.

  5. Make It Easier for Them to Do Their Job
    The number one reason people leave jobs is because they're unhappy with their work environment. Keep your employees happy by getting input on what can be done to improve the work environment. Do you need new computers, or to find time for a weekly update meeting? Working on your business' culture is one of the best ways to increase long-term retention.

  6. Don't Underestimate the Value of Time and Money
    At the end of the day, there are two currencies that drive life and business -- time and money. Satisfaction and a good working environment are important, but ensure that you're giving your valued employees an adequate amount of time off for rest and work-life balance. Look at your salaries to make sure they're industry standard. If you want to reward an employee for excellent performance and can't do a salary raise, consider a one-time bonus.

Salaries and bigger benefits are helpful for retaining your star employees. But for many small businesses, facilitating better communication, making employees feel valued, and creating opportunities for education and growth are equally important.

Liz Alton is a freelance writer specializing in digital marketing, business, and technology. Her work can be found here.

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