Employee retention strategies are critical to the health of your company. This is particularly true for smaller businesses, which often don’t have the luxury of employing multiple people in the same role. Every team member is essential.
Having a strong team can give you the confidence necessary to drive your business forward. When a star employee submits their two-week notice, that momentum is shattered.
This can leave you wondering what you could have done, if anything, to keep that employee from looking elsewhere. Think about it: When was the last time you focused on how to better retain your employees?
As a business owner or manager, you’re juggling many responsibilities to keep your business running smoothly. Unfortunately, dedicating time to keeping good employees may slip off your daily priorities.
This is especially true for small enterprises, which account for a huge part of the American business landscape. Businesses with 500 employees or less constituted 99.9 percent of existing U.S. companies in 2018, which employ nearly half of the nation’s workforce, according the Small Business Administration.
So what can you do to keep your best employees around longer?
We asked eight of Insperity’s top employee engagement specialists the question, “What’s the best advice you’ve given a small business about how to retain employees?”
The resounding theme in their answers: retention starts during recruiting and continues every day.
Here’s what our specialists had to say:
1. Don’t rush recruiting and onboarding
Develop a recruiting infrastructure. Making the right hire from the start has a tremendous impact on retention. It starts with defining your talent goals and moves all the way through to development of a strategic onboarding process.
Even if your company is small, you can gain boosts in new hire productivity, engagement and retention just by investing some time in a plan that helps your new hire feel like an important part of the organization.
Despite what you may think, offering your employees a bigger paycheck isn’t going to keep them around for the long haul. Make sure your employees feel valued and can see how day-to-day projects contribute to the greater good of the company.
The goal is for employees to see their role not as just a job, but as an experience that will help them grow and achieve their own goals. In return, you’ll get a more productive worker who is willing to give it their all and has a vested interest in the success of your business.
Jill Silman Chapman | Senior Performance Consultant, Insperity Recruiting Services
2. Make a first impression that lasts
Create an onboarding experience. During an employee’s first few weeks, they will decide whether or not they have made the right decision to work for you, so make your onboarding more than just paperwork.
During this time, be sure to articulate and illustrate your company’s purpose and values, as well as how this new employee fits in to the overall success of the team.
By clearly communicating the significance of their role on the team, you will have a motivated employee dedicated to helping the team succeed.
Chris Brennan | Performance Specialist, Field Service Operations
3. Be a consistent part of your employees’ experience
Be purposeful to ensure your employees know they are your top priority. Everything you do – or don’t do – makes a statement to your staff about their level of importance to you and the business.
If I looked at your calendar, would I be able to tell what and how much you are doing to invest in employee relationships, development and retention?
If not, then they are likely not receiving the prioritization they need for you to achieve the highest potential for your organization.
Kelly Yeates | Vice President of Service Operations, HR Service Operations
4. Lead with your heart and soul
The decision to be engaged is in the heart, not in the mind. The most important thing small business leaders can do is be authentic.
If you publish core values, you must live those values. If you talk about servant leadership, your employees have to see those behaviors in action. If you talk about the importance of trust and confidence, you have to give those to others to get them in return.
Employees want to be part of something real.
I know your dad already told you this, but it is what you do when you think no one is watching that defines your business and personal brand.
Michelle Mikesell | Managing Director, Traditional Employment Solutions
5. Leverage an individual’s motivation to help them succeed
Understand that your employees are likely not as emotionally invested or passionate about the business as you, the owner. Therefore, as a small business leader, you need to understand and meet people where they are.
Determine what motivates them. What do they value and how can you leverage those values to make your business a place that they want to be?
Show employees how working for a small business often provides intrinsic rewards that larger businesses often can’t provide.
Dawn Motsiff | Senior HR Advisor, Human Resource Operations
6. Demonstrate a clear path for their success
Employees are more likely to stay if they are in an environment where expectations are clear, and employees feel valued and rewarded for their contributions.
Employees want to feel their work is meaningful and rewarding, and can see how it contributes to the success of the business.
Good leadership and management are critical. Consider the saying, “employees leave a manager, not the company.” A good manager leads with integrity and serves as a valuable resource in helping employees be successful in roles and finding job satisfaction.
Being a servant leader means setting your team up for success, establishing clear expectations, providing clear and meaningful feedback, and empowering employees.
Keith Mishler | Senior Human Resources Specialist, Field Service Operations
7. Give them the confidence to represent your company well
Employees are a company’s biggest asset. They are the face of the company, regardless of industry and company size. That’s why it’s important to empower your employees to do the right thing.
You can do this by being clear on what your expectations are of them, rather than assuming they should know what’s expected.
Megan Moran | Senior Human Resource Specialist, Service Operations
8. Ask employees what would make their world better
I find that small businesses, especially those in the technology industry, try to keep up with the trends set by Google and Microsoft. As a result, they try to offer similar benefits or perks attempting to emulate the bigger companies in an effort to retain employees.
While eccentric perks may seem nice, I suggest clients go right to the source for information. Survey employees about what’s important to them, and do so on a recurring basis.
Ask them why they joined your company and, more importantly, why they’ve stayed? Use their feedback to create programs or a culture that meets those needs.
Eric Cormier | Manager, HR Services, Northeast Field Service Operations
Want more information to help you develop successful employee retention strategies? Download our free e-book From Hire to Retire: A guide to retaining your best employees today.