retain employees in a small business

How to Retain Employees In A Small Business [Expert Opinions]

As a small business owner have you ever been in one of the following situations:

  • Whenever you feel there is some stability in your company, one of your core employees leaves and the ship starts to sink?
  • One employee leaves and others follow?
  • The resignation email of an employee is the one you dread the most.

Talent retention is one of the biggest challenges for small businesses.

As an owner of one, we face these challenges all the time. So what we did was, we requested business owners, industry leaders and senior members of the small business community from across the world asking about their opinions on talent retention in (their) small businesses.

The responses by 59 business leaders stood out and we are compiling them in this “short” (NOT) article.

This is what experts from all over the world have to say regarding employee retention for small businesses.

 

Sam Williamson
Owner of CBDiablo UK

Retain employees in small business – transparency: The main thing we’ve focused on to ensure we keep our employees is transparency. Anybody working for a large corporation can usually have a pretty good idea of how the business is doing through a quick Google search, but for anyone working at a smaller company, it can be harder to gauge how the business is doing. We hold weekly meetings where we speak frankly about how the business is doing with every single employee, and we feel that being transparent in this way makes employees feel like a core part of the business and shows that we value their input into every aspect of the business.

 

Sandeep Bansal
Chief of Strategy at Silicon Biztech

Employee Retention in Small Business: In my experience, a convergence of private and work, making an integrated system of working and living has helped retain our key employees for over a decade. We have a remote distributed work environment, and everyone works from home, giving them ample time to spend with the family on any given day. We operate around-the-clock method, wherein each employee declares his working timezone based on their preference, and we set up calendar meetings mutually based on everyone’s availability. This helps alleviate pressure from managing a fixed routine, and all team members are encouraged to re-arrange their work schedules if their situations change at home. Typically, this means that indirectly, we prioritize everyone’s personal/family life before anything else, and then they choose their 40 hours in the week to work. No one changes their schedule every week, in fact, many of us don’t change them at all, and yet, because of this flexibility, it is easy to request someone to work outside of their timezone occasionally when we need to meet as a global time on the same hour. We don’t count holidays, sick days, or vacation days, because we believe everyone is going to need the time that they are going to need with the family, or in case of an unforeseen circumstance. We also know that counting days they spent taking a vacation costs us more time logistically and does very little to deter someone from taking days off of work, if an emergency arises in their personal lives, so what’s the point? Team members feel a sense of reciprocal responsibility towards their work, and therefore, are able to delegate, and in general make sure that their tasks are carried out despite them being away and sometimes, by extending their work through the weekend before the upcoming vacation.

 

ANA CASIC
Media Relations Coordinator at Talent LMS

For this research, we partnered up with Dr. Ashley Prisant from Harvard University. And it revealed the reasons why managers stay loyal to their companies, and what makes them consider leaving.

Here are the key findings:

1. 1 in 2 managers are thinking about leaving their company in the next 12 months
2. 7 in 10 say they feel undervalued and underpaid
3. 43% feel isolated at work after they became managers
4. 61% say that the number one reason they stay is that they work well with the people they manage

The top factors that drive managers away, besides being underpaid, are: an unhealthy working environment, not being part of the decision-making process, and insufficient training and development opportunities.

On the other hand, among the top reasons why managers stay at their current companies, besides compensation, are: the people they manage (61%), decision-making power (49%), work-life balance (44%), feeling acknowledged (37%), and training opportunities (36%).

The report also looked into whether managers feel taken care of. As it turns out, 93% have a go-to person, while 7% say they have no one to rely on at work. But Dr. Prisant raises an important point here:

*“Should others be taking care of managers? Are they doing enough to take care of themselves? A lot of people say ‘my senior people don’t support me’– but they do nothing to improve their own world.”*

 

Anna Gill
Fairwayrock

At Fairwayrock, we spent time struggling to find good talent. But we found that there are people attracted to a start-up, and it’s them who will become excited about the job. You need to work hard at maintaining this passion within them so they want to stay and contribute to the achievements of the company. The main way we do this is by giving our employees trust and responsibility, and celebrating with them when milestones are met.

 

Ollie Smith
CEO,
Card Accounts

As a small business, we may not be able to compete with larger organisations when it comes to pay and benefits which could cost us our most talented employees. However, as a small business, we are more flexible than large multinationals – and it is here we can compete. One strategy which has really worked for us is our *flexible working *program which I introduced two years ago. My team can now adjust the times they work to suit their lifestyle, enabling them to pursue interests outside of work. Since introducing the programme my employee retention rate has soared. Give it a try yourself!

 

Pratibha Vuppuluri,
Chief Blogger, at Shestartedit

Retaining employees in a small business setting is no different from that of big businesses. Some tips I can share with you are:

First, be personal. When I say ber personal, I mean know your employee on a personal level. Know and understand his or her goals in life particularly in his or her career. When you do that, the employee will feel valued and as a boss, you make it a point to help your employee reach that goal or those goals.

Second, be transparent. Transparency in small businesses is very important. Be honest with your employees. Let them know how they are performing, in the same way, that you tell them what’s going on in the company. Be open to feedback from their end too.

Third, communicate. In every team, business, or company, communication always plays a vital role. It actually is one of the best tools in retaining people.

Lastly, compensate accordingly. Proper benefits and compensation are key if you want to keep your employees for a long. Definitely on top of the list of to-dos for any businesses.

 

Simon Hansen
Founder, Blogger at
Homebrew Expert

One of the best strategies one should take in order to retain employees is by creating a great work environment that offers flexibility and growth. What entrepreneurs and business owners should realize is that offering good pay is just one of the many things that affect employee retention. If you want to keep your employees, you have to make sure that you pay attention to their physical, mental, and emotional health. Employees aren’t robots that companies can toy around with, they deserve to be treated as humanely as possible.

 

Joe Bailey
Business Development Consultant at MyTradingSkills

1. Create opportunities for professional development- employees are more likely to stay in a work environment whereby there are opportunities availed to them for improving their skills, and learning others. On-the-job and online training are some ways you can encourage your employees can improve their skills for current and future roles in your firm. Investing in their skill development will also create a sense of loyalty to your firm.

2. Encourage honest and open communication as well as feedback across all levels. Constructive feedback, as well as periodic reviews where employees can openly speak about their individual challenges and goals, demonstrates to employees that they are valued, and this encourages them to stay.

Bottom Line: Open communication and constructive feedback across all levels in the business, as well as investing in employee skill development are some of the best strategies for employee retention in small businesses.

 

Gregory Golinski
Head of Digital Marketing at
YourParkingSpace.co.uk

Nepotism is a small business’s worst enemy.

Lots of small businesses are created with friends and family. But if you favour these people over more talented, new hires, they may very well leave your business for greener pastures.

Granting promotions or new jobs to acquaintances, without regard to merit, is a surefire way to scare your brightest employees away. You should be fair to everyone and outlaw cliques in your office.

 

William Taylor,
Career Development Manager at
velvetjobs.com

The best strategy is to keep your employees motivated and give them a feeling of accomplishment by offering low-cost incentives such as gift certificates, adding paid time off, taking them out to lunch, or featuring them in the company newsletter. When implemented right, these types of incentives keep your employees motivated and excited about their work.

*Bottom Line:* Offer low-cost incentives

 

Tim Grinsdale
Director at  toaddiaries.co.uk

– Always play to the strengths of the individual whilst recognizing areas of weakness. Areas of weakness should be seen in the context of the individual and never as a shortcoming.
– Play to their strengths and encourage them to *add value* to the company, rather than simply executing their daily tasks. This gives them a sense of empowerment: The opportunities available to them will improve as the company grows.
– Finally, recognize and reward.

 

Charlie Worrall
Digital Marketing Executive at
imaginaire.co.uk

One of the best ways to keep good quality employees is to make sure that they have somewhere to grow within the company. If there isn’t a clear career path for your employees, they’ll likely just move to another company instead of staying with you. This might be because they’re being offered more money but often it is down to the fact that they’re able to progress their career further than they would be able to with you.

 

Karla Singson
Owner and Team Lead at
 snapevents.com

Employee retention — better communication: I personally feel like leadership is very person-to-person dependent, and I certainly believe that retention lies on a good leadership and a positive ambiance/ relationship among leaders and subordinates in an office – no matter how small or big.

My favorite thing is being specific with my critique and compliments. I don’t give compliments just to give compliments. Critiques, all the same. When I compliment my team, I always make them feel like it is FOR them when I say it, and that I pay attention to the work that they do. I also motivate them further by adding more direction, appreciating their work, and even if it was my idea, when it succeeds, I’d let them take the full credit for it and even recognize them in front of people. When I critique them, I distance the work from the person and also never try to assume certain characteristics just out of a single output.

It’s simple. If you’re offering a service, remember that the people delivering it are your main and biggest capital. They should be taken care of, actually more than you take care of clients. Remember — clients come and go and they usually only interact with you less than your employees! You interact with your employees everyday so you better make sure you are doing your best to lead them well.

I’d also add do quarterly soft skills trainings on communications, leadership, project management, and time management. We started doing this recently and it really boosted the morale and even the energy around the office.

 

Emma-Jane Shaw
Director of Content,
ukuinbound.com

It’s important to remember that your employees are human with very specific needs, strengths and weaknesses.

Your employees want you to take note of their achievements, they want to be recognised.

We’ve found that the use of an employee recognition platform has the ability to engage employees and help reduce churn. To achieve that though, you need to ensure that you are validating and rewarding behaviors that are aligned to your key business outcomes.

This goes on to fosters a culture of recognition and by virtue goes on to drives employee engagement.

 

Deepak Bhalla
Online Entrepreneur, moneyfollowyou.com

I am a Small Business Entrepreneur, having 4 employees (as a team), I do blogging over at moneyfollowyou.com, so I thought I’d share my 2 cents with you.

*What are the best strategies to retain employees in a small business?* Key employees are the actual gold of my business. To retain them in business is a challenging task for me as well as every entrepreneur. I mainly use these 3 strategies to keep them motivated –

1) I allow employees to use their hidden talents and skills to make an improvement in business activities. Because if I allow them to do so, they feel more motivated and feel like an owner of the business. Sometimes this may give advantage to me also.

2) Make their job easy. I personally use so many automation tools that help my employees to do their job well. Doing every work manually is very frustrating for every human being even me also.

3) Extra benefits play a huge role. Perks other than salary is like a wonder for every employee. I provide them tickets for movies, Gym membership, and parties for all.

 

Carlos Castelán
Managing Director of The Navio Group

The need to hire and retain great employees will be key for small businesses in 2020.

With more jobs available than workers to fill them, hiring and staffing will be a continual challenge. A job description and salary will not be enough to attract qualified workers if the economy remains strong.

It’s going to take creative incentives to attract and keep talented people. Top among extra perks include flexible hour and remote work, particularly among working moms. Additional perks such as hiring bonuses, profit-sharing, paid time off for part-time associates, flexible hours, and discounts we also see gaining traction.

One way businesses are filling positions is to re-think the goal: shifting the mindset from hiring to accessing talent. Instead of focusing on hiring people as full-time employees where, for example, a relocation across the country can restrict the candidates for a job, talent access is about finding the most talented people for a shorter duration to help you complete a specialized project.

Often, these arrangements resemble a consulting or contracting arrangement which provides both sides with flexibility. The company gets the best person for a highly specialized project or task. For the candidate, such an arrangement is often desirable if they are working in a specialized field, because they’re able to have more job flexibility and can make more income because of the shorter engagements.

Technology platforms, such as Catalant and Upwork are revolutionizing this concept by providing companies access to highly skilled talent pools all over the world. These platforms allow companies to leverage technology to quickly find skilled candidates for a project or role and onboard them quickly, which is an added benefit given how long a potential search, and subsequent onboarding can take. Technology platforms allow companies to re-think talent and how they go-to-market to find the best candidates for a project or assignment.

 

Liz Brown
Founder of
Sleeping Lucid
Most business owners think that a better work environment means better pay, but it’s so much more than that. What businesses need to realize is that employees are more than just their workforce and that they feel and require attention. The best way to retain your employees is by valuing their physical, mental, and emotional health and there are multiple ways businesses can do that. Businesses should implement better work hours, reasonable deadlines, and health benefits for their employees. Creating a more relaxed workplace that encourages growth and creativity is what makes employees happy and motivated.

 

Jamie Conklin
VP of Product,
astraea.io

I think the most important thing you can do to keep employees in a small business is to instill a sense of ownership in the company (not necessarily through actual ownership, although that helps).  Make people feel like they are part of a team, share in the successes of that team, and create a safe environment for people to bring new ideas to the table.

Small businesses are hard because you have to wear many hats.  Make sure you hire the right people or you will find a mismatch.  Not all employees are cut out for this kind of flexibility.  Often small businesses are less mature in their business structure or don’t have clearly defined business practices.  This isn’t bad – it allows them to be nimble and to respond to the market.  Many people like working in a freer flowing environment.  That being said, not all employees are happy in that environment.  Ask job candidates why they like working in a small company during interviews.  Their response will help you understand if their values align with yours.

 

Kevin Geary
Chief Operating Officer,
HamonCreative.com

  1. Hire slow, fire fast. You really only want to retain the right people for your business. Most businesses hire too quickly, which leads to them acquiring the wrong people, and then they’re slow to fire. When you’re more patient during the hiring process, you tend to hire the right people more often. When someone is a great fit, they stay around longer. If you find that someone isn’t a great fit, separate from them quickly and move on to the next person.
  2. Compensate people creatively. Do whatever you can to compensate people based on performance. They can have a base hourly rate, but find ways to bonus them based on their performance or the performance of the company. Do this for everyone regardless of position – everyone has a hand in making the company better and they should personally do better as the company does better without having to wait for a review and incremental raise. Most importantly, compensate them with appreciation. It doesn’t matter how much you pay people, if they don’t feel appreciated, they’ll eventually leave.
  3. Actively develop your employees. Set aside time to develop employees in key areas. Give them additional training, coach and mentor them, and find ways to give them more leadership or responsibility. Great people always want to feel like they’re moving up and forward, so it’s your responsibility as a business owner to guide them across that trajectory.

 

Christina Stroh
COO at
StroTek

We have an open-door policy. Most companies say they do. But in order to encourage this culture, we have what we call check-ins at least once a month with every employee. We talk to them about what’s going well, what they can work on, and then they share their thoughts/frustrations. If there’s anything they’re not happy with we get it out in the open quickly. That way we can fix it or say it might not be a good fit. We also do something once a month to show our extra appreciation. It might just be pizza at lunch but it’s something to hang out with together, sometimes they’re allowed to bring a significant other. And we offer a ton of training. Our employees have a say in what they train on. Whether it’s something they think they have a weakness in or a field they want to learn more about. We make sure it still makes sense for the company and then send them on their way. It cultivates them as an individual as well as the business.

 

Jovan Milenkovic
Co-founder of
KommandoTech

Nowadays, competition among companies has grown so much that hiring managers literally have to fight to attract and keep good employees. In my experience, business owners must not just focus on providing material benefits to their employees. Although very important, money is rarely the sole motivation for people. What keeps them attached to a company is its vision, values, and culture. This is not an easy task – business owners must put in a lot of effort into setting and maintaining a consistently good atmosphere for work.

 

Book Prunelle
Founder, CEO at Book Prunelle

*I’m Blandine Carsalade and I am the CEO of the reading/audiobook platform Book Prunelle. While growing my company from the ground up has been hard work, I persevered and as well as having a successful fledgling business, I also have a small team of highly skilled and talented people working for me.*

*When I first started growing Book Prunelle I was working on my own. I was doing every job that you could think of in order to make sure the foundations were stable and the company was ready to head skywards. But eventually and inevitably things became too much for me. I was working 7 days a week and I needed at least 4 hands to do everything that needed doing. I needed help – and this is where my team began! *

*I first started using freelancers that I found online, which was difficult considering many had other work obligations and interests, (and I’ll be honest – I just don’t think some of them wanted to work with me again!) But over time I started coming back to a few regulars that I knew I worked well with and could deliver the goods. This is how my team formed.*

*Now I’ll admit that it’s quite an unusually small team in that it is spread out around the globe! We have different people from different countries doing different jobs all working towards the same end goal. And when you step back and look at it that in itself is quite an incredible thing!*

*But despite the distance, we have regular team meetings via online video, we talk shop, discuss how business is going, make plans and strategies and really get into the nitty-gritty of Book Prunelle. And on top of that, we are also able to laugh and enjoy each other’s company. Everyone on the team has gotten to know each other well and as well as a loyalty to me and the company; I think they also have a loyalty to each other too. Which is great! It’s like a built-in support network.*

*And yes, while I’m the boss that calls all the shots, oversees, and signs off on everything, and yes I have to be tough from time to time (it’s the only way to get things done sometimes), but I try to let my team know that I am approachable. If they have a problem or an issue then I hope they know they can come talk to me. In the same way, I know I can have a bit of a vent to them when I’ve had a rough day. *

*While they are all still officially working on a freelance basis, I know that I am the sole client of many of them and I truly appreciate that dedication and support. I am able to offer them regular, ongoing work and a steady and fair income. And because the company is still only just beginning the work will always be there for a long time to come!*

*In return, I know that my team is always there for me no matter what I need: If there’s an article that needs writing in the next few hours then I can send it off to my writer and he’ll get it done; If I have a text that needs checking ASAP I can send it over to my editor and she’ll have it back to me in no time; if I have art that needs doing promptly I can always rely on my illustrators.*

*The number of employees I have might grow in the coming years but I feel certain that I have found my core team that will stick around and help me take Book Prunelle forward and into the stratosphere!

 

Matthew Ross
Co-owner and COO,
The Slumber Yard

My company employs 12 individuals in addition to my business partner and exceeded $5 million in revenue last year.

Your query caught my eye because employee retention is extremely important to my business partner and I. *The costs associated with employee turnover and new employee training are extremely high*. Not only is it costly but turnover also takes a toll on other employees from both a morale and responsibility standpoint.

Plus, we understand that our competition is fierce as well. *Employees are always looking to see whether the grass is greener somewhere else*. As such, we want to make sure we offer perks and benefits that at minimum are on par with our competitors. In some cases, we even go above and beyond in order to foster a unique, employee-friendly work environment.

Besides the obvious of paying employees well, providing clear advancement opportunities, and creating a friendly work environment, there are a few other strategies we use to retain employees. First, we offer medical, dental, and vision insurance, of which we pay over 50% for the employee. I believe that is more than what the average company covers.

Next, we *keep the office stocked with beverages and snacks for employees to enjoy* at their convenience. We even ask employees what they like to eat and drink so we can purchase items they actually enjoy. I believe this makes the office feel more like home to them.

In addition, we try to maintain a* fun office with lots of activities for workers*. This includes a ping pong table, foosball table, TVs, bean bag toss, and more. These activities serve as a nice break for employees so they’re not just sitting behind their desks for eight hours per day.

Further, my business partner and I do our best to make employees feel at home. We try to promote friendships and social interactions within the office by organizing *company-sponsored events monthly*. Sometimes they take the form of a simple happy hour at a local watering hole and other times it’s a more intensive team bonding event. This helps everyone in the office get to know each other a little better and become closer friends. When employees have friends at work, they’re happier and less likely to leave.

Lastly, we give employees *a lot of flexibility in terms of their schedule and where they get work done*. We don’t have a set time employees need to be in the office by and we frequently allow them to work from home or a coffee shop for a change of scenery. I know how mentally draining it can be to sit down at the same desk all day so it’s nice employees are able to leave and work from different locations. I believe this helps keep the work
fresh and boosts overall morale.

Besides the perks mentioned above, we do offer one big benefit that I’d bet is different from most other companies out there. Since we are a mattress review company, we allow each of our employees to choose a brand-new bed to take home. In one case, an employee got a brand new $3,000 mattress.

 

LUKA AREŽINA
Editor-in-chief,
www.dataprot.net

The most important thing about employee retention is that a company provides a healthy and nurturing workspace that respects the talents, expertise, and time of each employee.

Starting from the management, and the examples you set as a business owner- but treating people with respect and warmth are an excellent way to set the basis for their satisfaction with their job.

Giving your employees a space to grow – and a safe space to fail will turn them into loyal employees who are passionate about their jobs.

Work-life balance is essential for your employees’ happiness. Giving them all the flexibility to accommodate their personal needs, such as options to work remotely, or have flexible working hours, goes a long way when it comes to employee satisfaction, and consequently, retention.

Finally, every small business is a specific environment that resembles a family. Keeping open communication and providing employees with opportunities to express their concerns, but also to grow by giving them positive and constructive feedback, make any workplace worthy of staying, from the perspective of an employee.

 

Marc Prosser
CEO & Co-founder, ChoosingTherapy

I recently started a small business, Choosing Therapy and I previously co-founded a business that grew to over 100 US-based employees.

Tips: *Provide Employees With Skill Building Experiences Which Benefit Their Careers Or Interests*

A small business can be less rigid in roles and responsibilities than a larger company. You can give employees the opportunity to develop skills that might not be outside of their job description. These skills can potentially be good for their career or make their day more interesting.

*Make People Feel More Part Of A Community That Cares About Them*

Building a sense of family at a large company is very difficult, no matter how much money or time is invested in developing culture. On the other hand, an owner or manager at a small business can have an enormous impact on people’s feelings of loyalty. Early in my career, my mother needed a very serious operation which would take 2 to 3 weeks of hospitalization. My boss told me not to worry about the time and furthermore to have the people that reported to me deal directly with him if there were any problems, so I would not have to focus on work at all. This created a tremendous sense of gratefulness and loyalty in me.

 

Jessica Shepard
Content Brand Specialist, www.sparkmarketer.com

To retain employees:

  • Lead by example and follow your own rules.
  • Be open to radical candour from your team, as this helps you get better and teaches your team mutual respect.
  • Create core values *with *your team and get buy-in.
  • Remember that being kind means being truthful and helping people work through their issues. Ignoring them and letting them fail because you don’t want to confront them may be nice, but it’s not kind. Niceness is about you; kindness is about them.

 

Taffy Nelson
Founder, MaternityMomentum

I have a unique solution to employee retention problems. My entire small business is designed around supporting employee retention and reducing attrition and the financial impact associated with attracting employees, maximizing retention, and reducing attrition in one specific area.

Having a baby changes everything! It does not have to mean losing valued talent. When you offer the right support, right from the start, your valued employees will want to come back. Once your employees have a birth announcement you can increase your odds of that employee returning by 25% when they have the right support. Maternity Momentum keeps your employees focused on the tasks for which you hired them; by taking care of finding just the right support for their needs so they can transition from pregnancy, to new family and back to work seamlessly.

Do you want your employees trying to multitask and find providers, pediatricians, caterers, nannies, and other support while working on their jobs? Multitasking serves neither you nor your valued employee. It takes approximately 23 minutes to refocus on a task once distracted. My only focus is to find the ideal practitioners, vendors, and assistants who will best support the family to be and get them back to you.

Instead of wasting valuable resources on backfilling, onboarding, and lost productivity, you can outsource the right company to add this benefit for your employees who are starting/adding to their families. In so doing, you will be building a force of loyal, valued talent who will continue to help your company grow.

 

Michael Alexis,
CEO of Team Building 

Build friendships = retention 👪: There is a well-known saying that “Employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers.” Less well-known is the idea that employees stay for their colleagues. If you can cultivate meaningful relationships between coworkers, then you will see a massive increase in retention.

One way to improve these relationships is to start meetings with icebreaker questions. For example, a prompt could be “your name and your dream vacation.” Employees will bond over these shared ideas. You can also invest in team-building activities, both DIY and hiring outside companies. Dedicating even a few hours a month to team building and company culture will yield meaningful results.

 

Andrew Jezic
President, Law Offices of Jezic and Moyse

The best way to retain good employees for your small business is to be a flexible employer. Let your employees work from home, or take a day off from time to time. These small gestures can be great incentives for an employee to stick with your company, and can even be more valuable to an employee than a higher salary.”

 

Guillaume Hervé
CEO, Zetane

Retaining good employees begins before they are hired. The biggest challenge with attracting and hiring good employees – whether you’re a small or large company -remains the same: ensuring fit.

Too many companies, unfortunately, assess employee-company fit from a one-way perspective that targets the needs of the company, exclusively. Hiring managers in this context seek to ensure a job applicant will mesh well with the company. While this is an important factor for assessment, it represents only half the issue. In 2020, the real challenge is ensuring that companies provide potential hires with the means to assess whether the company is the right fit for them. This is where smaller companies can best compete; their size enables the company to be more transparent and genuine when describing company values and culture in a job interview. Indeed, an applicant will likely have the opportunity to meet the co-founders or owners face-to-face and judge for themselves whether the values of those at the top mesh well with the rest. Having the same opportunity at a mega-corporation is unthinkable.

Forget cappuccino machines, ping-pong tables, bean bags and lego block play areas popular with tech startups in trendy cities. While these workspace perks often do entice and welcome a potential candidate, they soon move to the background when an interview begins. The applicant will see through these bells and whistles and hone in on determining whether the company fits with their values and expectations.

At our small business, Zetane, we reserve significant time for the interview process to ensure potential employees understand who the co-founders are, what is important to them, and how this will be reflected in day-to-day in the workplace. We make it a point to speak of the work atmosphere, our style of communication, how we exchange information, how we treat people, how we seek out ideas, how we innovate and make decisions about our product. These descriptions always emphasize the power of teamwork, the importance of encouraging diverse viewpoints to share more good ideas and confident decisions, and how we try to avoid having one’s individual strengths from becoming ‘lost’ in a growing team. The assessment ends by asking a few simple questions: Did what we just described fit with the applicant’s values of a workplace? What do they think could make their experience at work even better? What do they need to strive at work? Our team at Zetane will then encourage further discussion and discuss in front of the job candidate if we think we can meet the candidate’s expectations.

If the two-way fit is there, we find that the onboarding, training, and maintaining smooth team dynamics are relatively straightforward. A two-way fit ensures that people will feel welcomed and supported from day one. This, in turn, makes it easy for them to feel comfortable asking questions and interacting with new colleagues. We celebrate their arrival with a team dinner, which encourages interpersonal bonds with colleagues. Training people remotely is also facilitated by good team dynamics because most of the training of people, especially in a technology company, comes from peer-to-peer training and mentoring.

 

Jonathan Magoon
Chief Software Architect, Zetane

The most important thing that a small company can offer that isn’t a given at a larger company is respect. There are always people who will leave for larger and larger salaries; small tech companies can’t compete with Google on that front, but they can offer a thoughtful workplace that cares about them as human beings. Respect means that the leadership team values the strengths of the people they hire, trusts that they are competent, hard-working and well-intentioned, gives credit to the team first, and never asks for something they wouldn’t do themselves.

 

Amir Arbus
Chief Financial Officer and the Chief Information Officer at Moskowitz
Law Group

These days, employees are centered mainly around their values and self-improvement. In order to keep a good employee, you first need to ensure that they understand the company’s core mission and values. If the employee believes in the company’s core mission and values, they will be working very hard to help the firm accomplish its goal and become a valued employee. That is the reason it is important to explain the core mission and values during the interview process. You can hire talented employees, but if they don’t believe in the company, their productivity will not shine. Secondly, the manager needs to meet one on one with your employees on a bi-weekly basis to ensure that their personal career goals are met and address any concerns they might have. It is important to do this regularly since people do change over time and their needs change as well.

 

Gabi Loverde
Head of Human Resources, BlusharkDigital

The key to success in any small business is its people. It is essential to remember the principles of ‘recruit, train, and retain’ in relation to human capital. First, it is important that a small business is recruiting people who want to grow and develop professionally with the company. Training employees doesn’t just refer to a two-week orientation at the beginning of their employment, it entails providing opportunities for career-long learning and growth. It also helps employees feel more confident in their roles and position in the company if they feel that they are being empowered to achieve new goals. We embody that cycle of recruit, train, and retain by offering opportunities monthly for team members to learn more about SEO and digital marketing in sessions with the company’s President, David Brenton.

 

Wid Covey
Found of
SeniorLeaf

After starting and running three of my own businesses in the real estate and senior care industries, here are some of the most effective ways I found to retain the best employees.

I retained employees by allowing everyone in on the hiring process and kept everything personal. It is not just business, everything with people is personal. I treated them how I wanted to be treated. If I had to lay someone off I would give them months of severance….enough time to help them find another job. Then they always spoke highly of our company. And that reputation got around and we had the best people wanting to work for us. We always parted as friends.

 

Suzanne Brown
From Mompowerment

In the interviews I did with more than 110 professional working moms, one of the top things they were looking for was flexibility. It didn’t matter if they worked for a big or small company, they wanted flexibility. Other employees (non-working parents) aren’t really any different. Flexibility is something many employees are looking for today. Studies have shown this is one of the top things that Millennials are looking for in an employer.

And flexibility can take many different forms, from part-time schedules or job sharing to working from home to shifting your hours, to splitting up your day, to name a few. It generally doesn’t cost any extra to have more flexibility built into a position, unless you’re referring to a job share, which could lead to more cost for benefits for at least 2 people.

When you consider that it costs 50 to 200 percent of someone’s salary to find, recruit, train, and get a new employee up to speed, the minor cost for helping someone work from home (e.g., paying for all or most of the internet access or a printer) makes sense.

 

JIM SCHROEDER
Marketing Manager,
online-rewards.com

One strategy that we advocate for is a structured, values-based employee recognition program. This has proven to be an effective strategy for businesses of any size.

Small businesses with solid rewards and recognition strategies have been proven to increase retention rates. In fact, two-thirds of HR professionals agree employee recognition helps with retention.

 

Gabriel Richards
Founder and CEO of Endertech

We’re a small business of about 20 employees and indeed, smart hiring and retention practices are critical to keep the organization stable and growing.

I will be happy to answer any specific questions you may have, but in general, the best practices I have found begin with giving the employee a lot of respect. In larger companies they can probably get paid more… but perhaps they will not receive the same level of respect from their boss, nor build the same type of personal relationship.

So, I give my employees a lot of respect… I follow principles from the classic business book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. I rarely criticize them, and if it is necessary, I serve them with a heaping teaspoon of honey.

Instead of focusing on encouragement. I give them space to do their job. I trust them. These elements of support and respect are the foundation of retaining them.

Beyond that, I work on the environment… I try to ensure that everyone we hire has similar values… which in our company are focused around family and the value of time over money.

I also set forth certain standards of performance and behavior. We have a document, Endertech’s Fundamental Behaviors for Success, which describes the way we should act and behave at work in order to do a good job, and why.

I also make sure I have an open-door policy, and I endeavor to reach out to each employee at least quarterly on a personal basis just to check in and see how things are going.

Lastly… there are some perks… like monthly birthday lunches and periodic events outside the office… but these are really the lowest priority.

 

Lin McCraw
From McCraw Law Group

The best strategies to retain existing employees in a small business is for the employees to know, by the numbers, if they are succeeding in their job and to know, by the numbers, how the business is functioning. For owners that means allowing the employees to know if the business is meeting its financial projections and generating necessary cash flow. When a small business provides these numbers, it allows the employees to feel confident that the firm is stable and can live up to its end of the bargain. At my firm, we post our monthly numbers by the department and the firm as a whole every month. All employees know who each other are performing and how the firm is performing. I am not sure how that needs to evolve as we grow, but it works well with a team of 12 and I see no reason it will not work with a team of 50.

Next, every employee has to make a living and every employee needs some benefits, but if you really want to keep good talent once a certain earnings threshold is met, a small business must empower and motivate the key employees to know what success looks like in the position and to achieve that success. High-achieving employees like to see the scoreboard and want others to see it as well. Low achievers may always be around, may come in early or stay late and piddle the time away, but they do not want to see the score and do not want others to see the score. Add clarity and accountability of measurable goals if you want your high achievers to be motivated to stay and push your firm forward. Publicly publish the score and update it regularly if you want to see real motivation. Motivated successful employees like to be around other top performers and want to invest their work life in a winning team.

Once you create a winning team, retaining new employees becomes easier as high achievers want to be on a winning team. The accountability also quickly exposes the employee who is more interested in hiding and collecting a check than performing. I have found that employees who cannot or will not perform will usually leave on their own accord when faced with the numbers.

 

Frank Spear
Content Marketer |
Awesome Motive Inc.

We offer optional developmental programs for employees who want to move up in our company. As long as the employee meets specific criteria when we look at their records (disciplinary reports, call-offs, and so on) and wants to participate, we help them grow. Employees want to work with businesses that care about their professional skills and careers. Offering certificate-based developmental classes or weekly webinars is enough to catch and hold the interest of some of the most sought-after employees in your industry.

 

David Jackson
CEO, Fullstack Labs

We employ mainly software developers and software developers are in very high demand, which makes them hard to retain. So we spend a lot of time thinking about retention. So far, these are the things that have worked for us:
* Employees value flexibility. We try to offer as much flexibility as possible by:
* Allowing employees to work from home two days per week. Offering flexible work schedules, including the ability to work fewer hours during the week, and make up the time working over the weekend. Something we call flex Friday…employees can work 9 hours Monday through Thursday and leave at noon on Friday. Something we call PTO banking…employees who work overtime can take additional PTO at a later date. So if they work 50 hours one week, they can work 30 hours the next.

These initiatives have become hugely popular amongst our employees, and they don’t cost the company anything, so it’s a win-win for everyone.

 

Todd L Ofsink
Founder
Todd Layne Cleaners in NYC

The average tenure of our staff is around five years, which is very unusual for the retail industry. Keys to retaining employees are allowing a flexible schedule, offering free lunch/non-monetary compensation, and most importantly taking an interest in them and providing support. It’s sort of like creating a family atmosphere, including having limits and consequences for inappropriate actions.

 

Steve Provost
Managing Partner, Prestige Scientific

* Creating an outstanding culture that is focused on employees
* Professional development for employees so they may continue learning in the company and enriching their careers
* Being grateful and showing appreciation in small ways such as company-wide recognition for a job well done
* Giving back to the employees. This doesn’t always have to be compensation. Other ways could be flexibility, a fully staffed snack area,
* Share the vision, or a higher purpose, for the work being done day to day. People like knowing they are working toward a common goal and like being a part of something larger.
* Come together as a team. Volunteering as a company, group lunches or potlucks, holiday-themed events, or offsite team events (Escape room, axe throwing, laser tag, etc.)

 

Name: Jordan Wan
Founder and CEO,
CloserIQ

In helping other companies hire salespeople, we’ve seen that some must-have benefits to attract and retain employees are as follows: outside training, community events & happy hours and gym membership reimbursement. These particular benefits are popular because you’re providing more than just the usual health benefits. You’re going above and beyond to show employees that you don’t just care about the work they do, you value them as individuals and care about their well-being. Employees want to feel as though they are making a significant impact at work and with benefits like these being offered, they feel important and like they’re part of the family.

 

Haley Anhut
Marketing Manager,
CleanOrigin.com

The number one employee retention mechanism for our business has been offering flexibility. Whether it’s work-from-home options or how our employees clock in and out of the office, this is something that helps everyone in our organization.

For small companies particularly, you may not be able to offer the same incentives as large tech companies. Things like stock options, an on-site gym or a cafeteria simply don’t make sense for the majority of businesses. The ability to remove rigidity from the workplace and give employees the freedom to accomplish their goals on their terms is something that small businesses do have, and in many cases, this can help to out-maneuver larger organizations and retain talent.

 

Kean Graham
CEO & Founder,
MonetizeMore

Location Freedom: Each team member can work from anywhere in the world as long as it has reliable internet. For some, that means to work and backpack around the world at the same time. To others, that allows them to live in the city of their dreams or to simply avoid commutes and raise their children rather than relying on a daycare.

Schedule Freedom: Each team member can set their own schedule. We want to give them the autonomy to work during their peak hours. Some people are morning people and some work better at night. They are the ones that know this the best and we empower them with schedule flexibility so they can best fit their work schedule with their personal schedule.

We have found that giving team members the freedom to engineer their ideal lifestyle dramatically increases their loyalty and morale. Many work harder to keep the privilege of location and schedule freedom, that so many employers do not provide.

 

Andrew Taylor
Director,
netlawman.co.uk

If you want to hold on to your good employees, then bring them into the fold, and give them incentives that have them feeling as if they are a significant reason why the company is a success and that you are grateful for it. A small business needs good employees and if one goes, it could spell the end of your business even if you are the founder and it is your brainchild and you want all the success for yourself, realize that your employees can make or break you

 

Casey Hill
Growth Manager, bonjoro.com

– Hire and fire around passion: One of the most important aspects to high-performing employees is whether they actually care about the product or service they are working on. If they are only there for the community or the paycheck or the benefits… You have a problem. Find employees who believe in the dream. If they believe in the dream but aren’t in the right position, move them around. If they are not passionate about the company don’t hire them (or let them go if you did hire them). To ascertain passion, look not just at what they say (everyone says they are passionate) but at their actions and track record.

– Invest aggressively in education: 99% of companies don’t invest aggressively enough in employee education. Companies often mistakenly see it as a luxury or a time sink away from “core responsibilities”. Here is the thing. The company that invests intensely in education might lose 100 hours over the course of the year to said education. But if that education increases employee efficiency by 5% per hour… it’s not hard to see how the ROI on that investment is well worth it. People who are learning and growing and refining their craft are happier employees. They produce higher quality work and have better retention. Make this a priority if you want a world-class workforce and don’t relegate it to just when they are starting out. Constantly invest in education, from year 1 to year 25.

– Give them authority to make decisions: Notice that I said “authority” here and not just “ownership”. While ownership over a project is important, giving an employee authority means they can actually make decisions on said project and be the final word. This is vital to truly create an environment where employees will go all-out to seek success on a given job. Giving an employee resources and support means you are saying, “I believe in you to execute on this. Let me know what you need to win”. This trust will lead employees to take on a different level of connection to your company and their responsibilities and if you hired right… will lead to big wins.

– Support a flexible work schedule: Although the technology world has led the charge on this, many industries lag behind. A flexible schedule does not mean that employees can just work wherever and whenever they want at their leisure (unless that makes sense for their specific role). What it means is that if a great employee needs to work from home for a few days because he feels overwhelmed, you allow it no questions asked and you don’t charge vacation days. It means you act with empathy in understanding family comes first, no matter what. It means, whenever possible, you take on a policy of unlimited PTO (Paid Time Off) and hold your employees accountable for results produced, not hours worked. – Give them stretch projects: We grow by trying new things and failing and iterating and testing. While it is a bad idea to hand an employee mission-critical tasks that they have no background in, it is a great idea to give an employee some budget and resources to try and crack a particularly intractable problem that they might be interested in but is not super time-sensitive. For example: Marketing has been hacking at trying to create viral content pieces for months, lets give some resources to one of our engineers, who happens to have a video background and loves writing, and see what they can come up with). Sometimes, it takes giving someone a project outside their comfort zone, but that they are interested in, to really give them the chance to realize their potential.

 

Andrew Cunningham
Founder of DailyPest

As someone who has been in the pest control industry for 15 years, I learned that the lack of communication and collaboration within my team has/can cause employees to feel dissatisfied and would want to consider resigning. This is crucial for me as someone who runs a small business.

Communication is always the key, as I’ve learned. Ever since I started DailyPest, I learned how important it is to be able to communicate what needs to be done.

There were instances when our established system of communication as a team was challenged. And I saw how some became disinterested in working with me as we didn’t see eye to eye. At the same time, it became an opportunity for me to create an environment where people have the freedom to talk and also the discipline to listen. They can simply express their ideas freely with no fear of judgment, and also be open to what others may suggest. I have let them know that they don’t have to see me as an authoritative figure,
but rather as an equal member like everyone else.

Communication helped me strengthen my team. That’s why it’s important for business owners and leaders to listen and keep an open mind. They should continuously learn how to engage with their team. It will help in the long run

 

Adeel Shabir
Content Marketing Executive,
Centriq

  1. Focus on putting the right team. The right team is the team that will take care of each other and make communication their first priority. This way you can grow your business as a team and motivate outsiders to join the team.
  2. Create an environment where the employees feel like they are part of the culture. This means that the employees should feel more comfortable and secure in working for the company.
  3.  Provide opportunities for growth and learning. This is a crucial element in keeping the employees safe and secure. When the employee know that there is a learning experience inside the business, then they will keep driving their productive gears moving. Every employee looks for growth in their career.
  4. Acknowledgment goes a long way. Employees should be acknowledged for the work they have done and for the work they are doing. This way they know that the work or the tasks are completed are acknowledged by the higher staff members.

 

Mariya Palanjian, MBA
CEO, globafly.com

– One of the strategies I used last year is explicitly giving my team more freedom; this change has helped me grow my agency by 300% YOY. I allow them to work whenever they want as long as their work gets done. Most of my team enjoy working remotely, so that’s been one significant advantage to win them over.
– A second strategy is including them in our strategy planning, so they understand better how their work contributes to the company’s overall success as well as the success we are able to create for our clients.
– Having fun team outings with the entire team
– Allowing them to get involved in different projects to gain experience and understand the connection between various departments
– Encouraging them to take ownership is also essential, it makes them feel more comfortable and forces them to step up
– Giving monthly or quarterly bonus

 

Andrea Loubier
CEO of
Mailbird

One of the best ways to ensure employee retention is to always allow the opportunity for growth among your team. If your employees feel as if they have a genuine opportunity to continue learning and even move towards other roles, they’ll be much more likely to hang around. No one likes the idea of feeling trapped in the same position, so the option for change and advancement is a highly attractive opportunity.

 

Alexandra Zamolo
Head of Content Marketing,
Beekeeper

Something that we all need to really work on for 2020 is to promote employee engagement as much as possible. I think that the key to running a leading workforce with high retention averages is to ensure that your employees are happy and plan to stick around. Employee retention has really become a problem, and companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars when it comes to turnover. That’s why it’s important to develop strategies that include innovation, reward and even a little risk. Provide incentives that encourage your team members to give a little extra effort, as well as rewards to make them think twice about jumping ship when the competition comes calling.

 

Angela Ash
Flow SEO

It’s important to publicly acknowledge a job that has been completed successfully, or when a team member has gone above and beyond to finish a project or secure a new customer. Include a special thank you in a company-wide email, or mention it on one of your Slack channels. You can also offer incentives, such as Amazon gift cards or free lunch for a week.

 

Ben Davies
Talent Partner, iwoca

Be clear about progression: In addition to having diverse recruitment channels, you need to outline what structures in progression are going to look like. If you don’t you’ll be perpetually hiring because it will be difficult to retain people.

Employee engagement. It’s important to make sure that employees remain happy, productive, and actively engaged. This is a challenge for every business and will probably remain an ongoing issue in the future.

Benefits: Companies are getting more competitive with the salary and perks offered to staff, so we need to make sure we’re offering a good range of benefits to keep everyone interested.

 

Adil Ashraf
Head of Human Resources, MotionCue Video Production Agency

Employee retention stems from happiness in the workplace. Several factors keep employees happy and thriving in a company. Employees should be put first before everything.
From the very beginning, employees must go through a thorough and well-implemented onboarding program in which they become familiar with their job responsibilities, goals, company culture, policies, and benefits.
Employees must be offered competitive packages along with attractive perks and benefits to fend off industry competitors.
Promote openness, transparency, and two-way communication. Hold annual performance reviews so that employees are aware that they are always heard and recognized for their efforts.
Invest in your employees’ development by arranging training and mentoring programs for their growth. Foster a culture where employees can experience a healthy work-life balance and flexible work arrangements.

 

Stefan Chekanov
Co-founder and CEO of Brosix Instant Messenger

Retaining employees is much more than providing adequate compensation and benefits, although this does of course play a role. I’ve always found that the employees who stay the longest are those who are engaged with the larger mission of the business. Being able to connect how an employee’s everyday work is connected to the big picture is by far the best way to both retain employees and keep them engaged. This is all the more easier in a small business, given that the size of the business means that every employee likely serves an essential role.

Everyone wants to feel like a part of something bigger. If employees feel like they’re just ‘punching the clock’ so to speak, then they’re all the more likely to leave your business when they find a better opportunity. If, however, they feel like a valued and essential part of a larger mission, then they will be more committed and motivated. The responsibility for this largely falls on management and how they connect employees’ work with achieving long-term goals.

 

Tami Rose
Small Business Owner, Public Speaker, and Writer in Jackson, Mississippi

> Talent is the biggest challenge in business. It is super challenging for me because most people don’t grow up dreaming of working in adult retail and they get a lot of harassment in the community and by family members for poor choices in life.

> I find that everyone wants to grow in their lives. So I offer clear paths to both sales and life training to help them shore up their social skills and sales skills. Quite often I tie that training to raises.

> I also treat my employees very respectfully and let them know that I appreciate their efforts. A kind word here or there goes a long way.

> Oddly, firing people and setting boundaries of what is acceptable and what isn’t is part of the process of developing a good team. The people who put in extra effort don’t want to feel taken advantage of by the slackers. So you have to protect the exceptional by culling the average.

> It is counter-intuitive when you feel like you can’t find enough people as it is, but making your team feel elite and selected goes a long way toward making them happy and productive.

> As a small business owner you have the advantage of being nimble so use that to your advantage and create positions that play to your team’s individual strengths. Sometimes people will work harder for a tittle than they will a raise.

> People are a challenge but they are also the biggest reward when you get it right.

 

Brandon Amoroso
CEO & Founder, electrIQ marketing

When it comes to finding and retaining employees when you are a small business it can seem difficult to keep employees, since you may not have as many incentives as other longer-standing companies. However, as a small business, some things that you can leverage in your favor, depending on your industry can include workday flexibility and vacation requests.

What I mean by workday flexibility is that as an employer you can work with employees to create a schedule that works for them such as starting the day a little later, like at 9 am as opposed to 7 am or perhaps offering a short day on Friday so they can make the most of their weekend. Offering work-from-home days is usually very enticing to people who may have other commitments at home.

Additionally, vacation or off-day requests are more accessible in a smaller business setting as you and your potential employer get to know each other and understand that days off can be beneficial to improving workflow in the long run. These types of incentives can really help persuade your job candidate to choose to work for your business over another.

 

Tiffany C. Wright
From THE RESOURCEFUL CEO

* Periodically, but not predictably, recognize and reward hard work, teamwork, successful completion of a project, etc. When you do this, do it as a team. For example, if your employees are construction workers and they are working hard to get a project finished on time, drop by and bring them Gatorade (or other electrolyte drink) and thank them for the job they’re doing. Or order lunch for the creative team that has been staying late to solve a problem. Do this periodically but not on a schedule.

* It works best when people look forward to it but don’t actually expect it.
* Business owners should do this on occasion but they should require their managers and supervisors to do this more frequently, as they generally have a bigger impact on workers’ day-to-day lives.
* By doing this, you foster team cohesiveness and reinforce the specific team behaviors you want. A stronger connection to one’s co-workers as well as feeling appreciated make people less likely to leave.

* Regularly recognize those individuals who have done something above and beyond. This could be an employee of the month feature in the monthly newsletter or a regular feature in the monthly meeting. You must clearly state WHY the employee is being recognized. Provide a gift card or a free dinner to further elevate the recognition.
* Tie employee performance to bonuses but first tie employee performance to company performance. Performance bonuses could be monetary or non-monetary, such as extra days off. Larger firms should strongly consider implementing a formal quarterly or semi-annual employee recognition program tied to review results. I believe in quarterly or semi-annual reviews since annual reviews are nothing but reward or punishment. Annual reviews are nearly useless in supporting retention. Reviews need to be viewed as a time when employees can actually discuss their performance and goals with their managers and build rapport. In order to do this, what constitutes good performance must be clear and objective-based, /not action-based/, and such parameters must be driven by the owner or executive management. Three people can perform the same actions and achieve wildly different results.
By doing all of the above, companies will greatly improve not just retention, but also engagement and overall performance.

 

Sid Soil
Founder & CEO, DOCUdavit Solutions

*Retaining talented employees is one of the hardest things for small businesses to achieve. People are always looking to take that next step professionally and small businesses with limited resources sometimes struggle to compete. My number one recommendation is to establish a business culture where people take pride in their work and feel like they’re making a meaningful contribution.*

*As the CEO of a small business, it’d be easy for me to shut my office door and work on big-picture strategic planning with the executive team and hardly interact with the rest of the employees. I’ve worked at places where senior management doesn’t have time for their employees. This always bothered me because the very best strategic plan only succeeds if the collective team can execute it. I celebrate wins — big and small – with employees at every level. *

*Doesn’t matter if it’s a tenured employee of 20 years or an intern in her second week. Openly and authentically expressing my gratitude for their contributions to the company is something I strive to do every day. As a result of bringing extra positive energy, I’ve noticed the office is cheerier. Mondays aren’t so gloomy. Employees are happy coming to work.
They’re less inclined to be seeking out other opportunities. When management approaches each day of work with a smile and positive energy, employees eventually start to personify some of the same characteristics, enjoy work, and stay longer.*