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7 keys to employee retention and loyalty for small and midsize businesses

RobertChecketts

shutterstock_670617469 (1).jpgThere's a great scene in Casablanca where Sam, the piano player, has an opportunity to perform at a rival nightclub for more money.

RICK: Sam, Ferrari wants you to work for him at the Blue Parrot.

SAM: I like it fine here.

RICK: He'll double what I pay you.

SAM: Yeah, but I ain't got time to spend the money I make here.

How's that for employee retention?

Do you have employees who would stay with you if offered double their current salary by your competitor? That's a tall order, but great employees quit every day and not always for jobs that offer higher pay or better benefits. According to Business Paths, the primary reason people quit their jobs is their boss and the working environment they foster, not how much they're paid.

The success of your small or midsized business (SMB) depends on having a team filled with people who have the kind of loyalty Sam showed Rick in Casablanca. Here are seven key ways that SMB owners can enhance employee retention.

1. Eliminate bad managers

If employees bristle under the supervision of one or two people in your SMB, then you should make some changes before it inhibits your ability to keep your team intact. Work with these problematic employees to enhance their management skills, but if things don't work out quickly, move them to nonsupervisory positions or let them go.

2. Survey your team

Find out what your employees really think about working in your SMB. Solicit suggestions about improvements and ask for feedback about what things they would like to be doing that aren't currently happening.

3. Keep the conversation going

After surveying your team, continue discussing ways to improve the workplace and act on those improvement ideas. Put it on the agenda for team meetings to let your staff know you take it seriously.

4. Engage your employees

The word "engagement" is tossed around too casually. What does it really mean to engage your workforce for more loyalty and better retention?

First, let your team members know they are part of the process, not simply individual cogs in a gearwheel. Make sure your employees see the big picture so they understand where your business is headed. People don't do well when they feel out of the loop or when they're confronted with surprises. Additionally, train your employees well and provide opportunities for them to gain additional knowledge and skills. Promote from within whenever possible.

These elements will improve retention by helping your employees feel as though they are players in the game and not just taking up space on the bench. You want to ensure that your employees sense that their future is inextricably tied to the future of your business.

5. Make work interesting

Most employees like to take on new challenges and experience the occasional change of pace. Don't let someone toil away at the same tasks for years, especially if you're just making life easier on yourself because you don't want to train or find someone else to do the work. Bored employees become restless and will often bolt.

6. Build a community

People in strong communities work together, have fun together, and enjoy meals together. You're meeting the first of these three factors in your SMB, so be sure to add the other two as well. Find time to have some fun and enjoy a few meals or other activities together. Teams that play together stay together.

7. Hold up your end of the bargain

If you commit to conducting yearly reviews on anniversary dates, then don't let them slide. If you miss deadlines or forget about delivering on promises, why shouldn't your employees do the same thing with each other and with your customers?

When an SMB hires its first employee, it immediately creates two dimensions of customer service: external customer service and internal customer service. Your employees are your customers, too; they expect you to deliver things to them. If you don't, you're failing not just those employees, but your business overall. Happy employees mean happy customers.

The beauty of treating employees right is twofold. First, your employee retention rate goes up, which saves you money and means fewer headaches. Second, the quality of life improves for everyone who works in your SMB—including you. Think about your business this way: Is it somewhere that you'd want to work? If the answer is yes, then you're probably already enjoying strong employee retention. However, if the answer is no, then it's time to make some serious changes.

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About the Author

RobertChecketts

Robert has over 25+ years of IT Marketing and Product Management leadership experience spanning country, Regional and WW organizations. Robert is a marketing executive with extensive experience in field marketing, channel marketing and product marketing on a global basis and is driven to deliver SMB’s end-to-end affordable infrastructure that’s secure from the start, optimized for every workload, packaged for many consumption models, ready to scale, and easy to manage.