Small businesses can sometimes struggle to retain workers. It often seems like your best and most reliable workers are also the most likely to leave. Turnover, especially for small businesses, disrupts the daily workflow in a big way. When one of your best people leaves, there’s often a considerable knowledge gap left behind. This requires that the remaining staff fill the vacuum, making more work for them, which can lead to resentment and dissatisfaction. This puts you in danger of losing the talent you have left.
But what can you do?
Check these 7 tips that can go a long way toward encouraging your best workers to stay.
- Include your team in decisions. By encouraging workers to participate in company decision-making, you’re empowering them by giving them a voice. This keeps them personally invested and actively engaged in the business. Truly consider their opinions and ideas and be ready to put yours aside if a team member’s idea is better. Talented workers like to know they have a say in what goes on in the company. They’re more likely to stick around if they’ve had the opportunity to help make important decisions.
- Resist the temptation to micromanage. Don’t be a helicopter boss – hovering around your staff like an over-attentive parent. Small business owners frequently have trouble delegating and allowing workers to run with a project. This can breed contempt among workers. Your most talented and reliable team members want to know that you trust them to take a project from start to finish. For large assignments, you and the team member can decide and agree when you’ll check in and how often. Make sure he or she knows, however, that your available to field any questions or help with issue resolution at any time in between. This builds trust and allows workers room for personal growth.
- Set achievable goals for employees. When assigning duties and projects, make sure you’ve defined clear, attainable goals for each milestone. Also, ensure that the team you choose has the right skills and resources to self direct and succeed with the project or task. Goal attainment will build self-confidence in your star workers, inspiring them to continue to get that feeling of accomplishment by doing better and better.
- Give due recognition. Celebrate each victory, large and small in a public way. For very small businesses, this could be as simple as posting praise for a job well done on your Facebook page, or sending out a celebratory tweet to all your followers. Or you could take your star out to lunch and let the wait staff know in advance to bring a dessert in honor of your employee. Businesses with a bulletin board in the common area can use a section of it to honor top talent and their achievements.
- Invest in your team. Give regular and generous raises to the star workers who have proven their worth time and again. Think giving a nice raise is too expensive? Try losing your best talent, then having to search out more among the sea of candidates and go through the training and “getting to know you” process again. Hang on to your best workers by compensating them well and generously.
- Keep your technology equipment current. Don’t run your business using outdated technology and run-down equipment. Make room in your annual budget to stay on the leading edge with technology. Generation Y is now in the workforce and they’re offering small businesses a share in their talent. But they won’t stand for outmoded equipment for too long. Better yet, ask your workers what new technologies would benefit your business and why. Consider their opinions when replacing computers, company smartphones, and other equipment.
- Give swag. Team members love free stuff. Who doesn’t? If your business sells tangible goods, allow workers to enjoy a liberal discount off the typical retail prices for your stock. Hand out gift cards for gas, coffee shops, and favorite eateries when certain financial goals are met. You can give higher value gifts to the star workers, but make sure you’ve set out a clearly defined way that lower performing workers can step up their game and earn them as well. You never, ever want to be perceived as unfair or arbitrarily playing favorites. That’s a sure way to send your stars and other staff to your competitor to ask for a job.
Your star talent just wants what everybody else wants and needs: affirmation and fulfillment. Create a work environment that allows for open, frank communication and provides meaningful rewards. By laying this foundation, you’ll relate to your employees in a deeper way and enjoy much more success in retaining those who align with your vision and make your business great.