April 23, 2016 By Suzanne Robertson

SmartBiz recently conducted a poll asking small business owners “What keeps you up at night?” The number one answer was “Employee Retention”.

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According to a recent study on employee loyalty by job search site Monster, 82% of surveyed employees have updated their resume in the past six months. Moreover, a whopping 59% say they are looking for a job “all the time.” High employee turnover costs small business owners valuable time and money. Even if you can’t afford to pay a premium salary, there are strategies you can use to get your team members to happily stick around and help your business grow. Experts say employee engagement can be just as powerful as employee compensation.

Internal Recognition

Keep employees motivated and instill a feeling of accomplishment by offering low-cost incentives for reaching goals or exceeding expectations. Gift cards are one easy way to show appreciation. Paid time off is another incentive valued by employees that won’t break your budget. A creative way to recognize performance is to have a traveling trophy that goes from desk to desk. This can stir up some healthy competition among your staff too. If you have a particularly successful accomplishment to celebrate, have a special lunch brought in or plan a happy hour away from the office with your staff.

Career Development

A recent poll reported that among employees with poor training opportunities, 41 percent planned to leave their current job within a year. Only 12 percent planned to leave among those who considered their company's training opportunities to be excellent, resulting in a retention rate more than two-thirds higher. It’s a common assumption that once employees are trained, they are more likely to leave the company for a better opportunity. Actually, the opposite is true: well-trained workers are happier and less likely to job hop. These days, online educational opportunities make it easy to find courses or programs that are a good fit for your employees. You can also implement a tuition reimbursement program if your employees’ course of study is relevant to your business.

Keep Communication Flowing

Listening to your employees and increasing communication can make employees feel more comfortable approaching you with workplace issues. In addition to increasing job satisfaction, an open line of communication can cut down on errors in the workplace.

Respond to Feedback

Employees who feel that their business know-how is unheard or unappreciated are rarely happy. Encourage feedback from your employees and then act on their suggestions. As an added bonus, you might be able to leverage feedback to improve systems and processes around the office.

Promote From Within

Is it time to create a new senior position in your company? Start the search from within before seeking outside candidates. Promoting from within shows current employees that there is a chance for advancement.

Perform a “Stay Interview”

You’ve probably heard of “exit interviews”, a final meeting with an employee leaving a position with your company. An annual “stay interview” with current employees can provide valuable feedback to help uncover what is working and what isn’t within your organization. “Stay interviews encourage managers to sit down and have a structured talk with their teams about what works and what doesn’t work for them,” explains Susan Seip, a human resources manager a Louisiana technology company. Questions can include, “Why did you choose to work here?” “Why have you stayed?” “What would you change?” Visit the Monster Career Center for more “Stay Interview” Questions. Use that information to strengthen your employee-retention strategies.

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