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Employee Retention: How To Retain Employees For Small Businesses

Business people discussing employee retention

Employee retention should be high on every manager’s priority list. If it’s not, you run the risk of your best employees leaving for greener pastures. That, in itself, is a huge problem because now you have to find a qualified replacement in addition to your normal daily responsibilities.

But an employee leaving doesn’t just impact you, the manager. It can also cause ripples throughout your business as a whole.

Some team members may wonder if their job is on the line. Some may even start searching for a position at another company. And then there’s the inevitable effect all that stress has on employee productivity and engagement.

You can avoid this negative impact by making employee retention a cornerstone of your business strategy. Here are 15 ways to improve employee retention in your company.

15 Strategies To Improve Employee Retention

1) Seek Diversity

Diversity of workers

When you promote diversity in the workplace, it creates a sense of inclusivity and equality. That type of company culture will make your employees happier and more comfortable in their work environment.

When your employees feel happy and comfortable at work, they’ll be more productive and motivated — and less likely to look for opportunities elsewhere.

2) Find The Best Hires

The first step in boosting employee retention is hiring the right people. Don’t just focus on finding the right skills for the job. Think of the bigger picture.

A huge part of the employee-retention equation is determining whether or not a potential hire fits in with your company culture. Do they exhibit the same ethics that you prize in your business? Are they extroverted or introverted?

When you hire with skills, culture, and longevity in mind, your employee retention will drastically improve.

3) Prioritize Onboarding

Onboarding is a key component of welcoming a new employee to your business and making them feel like a part of your team.

So don’t just hire a new team member one day and turn them loose to work the next day. Onboard your employees the right way so they know what they’re doing and where they fit in.

4) Include Benefits

Competitive pay is certainly a significant part of what drives employee retention. But a high pay rate isn’t the only thing that keeps employees from looking for opportunities at other companies.

Things like health insurance, life insurance, a 401k, and other fringe benefits can help motivate your employees to stay with your business longer.

5) Promote Teamwork

Example of teamwork to improve employee retention

When you promote teamwork in your business, you make it easier for your employees to experience intangible benefits that aren’t found anywhere else, such as:

  • New ideas
  • Improved efficiency
  • High-quality work
  • Better morale
  • Group cohesion
  • A sense of accomplishment
  • Quicker innovation
  • Less managerial interference
  • Stronger working relationships
  • More opportunities to learn

In fact, a good sense of teamwork can be worth more than all your fringe benefits combined.

6) Provide A Comfortable Work Environment

You want your employees to look forward to their workday. But if their work environment is uncomfortable in some way, they’re going to start searching for ways to find relief. For some, that may mean looking for a job elsewhere.

You can avoid this problem by providing as comfortable a work environment as possible (within reason, of course). Talk to your current employees and ask questions of potential new-hires to discover ways to make your office more user-friendly.

7) Offer Training

If you want to improve employee retention, train your employees to advance within your company. No one likes to feel stuck and without any opportunity to learn new skills.

On-the-job (or even outside) training gives your team members the chance to develop as an employee and become more valuable to your business. This can translate into more loyalty and increased employee retention.

8) Communicate And Listen

Managers reviewing employee retention

If you communicate with and listen to your team, your employee retention will be high. If you don’t, your employee retention will be low. It’s as simple as that.

Talk to your employees on a regular basis, and make sure they feel comfortable coming to you with questions, ideas, and problems.

9) Conduct Regular Performance Reviews

Few people enjoy sitting through a performance review. But when you remove the anxiety and stress from the review process, it’s easier to show your employee how to improve and achieve success in your business.

Then, when they feel a sense of achievement in the work they do, they’re more likely to want to stay in that position rather than going somewhere else.

10) Celebrate Accomplishments

Coworkers celebrating

Whenever possible, celebrate the accomplishments of your employees. At the end of a project or when they finish a particularly difficult task, give them the commendation they deserve.

If you do this, all your employees will feel like a valued part of your team and will want to work hard for years to come to make your business a success.

11) Provide A Comprehensive Employee Handbook

An employee handbook defines the working relationship between you and your employees. The more comprehensive your employee handbook the better everyone will understand how they fit in with, contribute to, and interact with the business itself.

In addition to being a resource for common employee questions, the information your employee handbook contains can help all your employees feel more comfortable with their role in the company. That translates into improved employee retention.

At its most basic, an employee handbook tells your employees what you expect of them and what they can expect from you. But that simplicity belies an underlying complexity.

If you allow your employee handbook to get too large or too complicated, it can defeat the purpose it was intended to address.

Here are a few of the most essential sections to include:

  • All major employee responsibilities
  • All major employee procedures (e.g., clocking in)
  • All major employer responsibilities
  • Legal disclaimer
  • Company background
  • Time off policy
  • Cell phone policy
  • Discipline procedure

Keep your explanations as brief as possible so the employee handbook doesn’t get excessively long.

12) Improve Your Leadership Skills

employee retention starts with the manager

Retaining employees starts with you, the manager or business owner. If you are the best leader you can be for your team and your business, employees will want to work with and learn from you.

It’s imperative, then, to work on improving your leadership skills just as much as you work on improving your employees’ skills. That means developing your own management style specifically tailored to your business (and even tailored to different teams).

It means strengthening your people management skills so you can inspire your team to improve. And it means taking the lead to solve problems for the benefit of your business as a whole.

For more help perfecting your leadership skills, take a few minutes to read these informative articles:

13) Create An Organizational Strategy

Strategy — be it at the functional level, the business level, or the corporate level — gives your business direction and purpose. That same strategy gives your employees a sense of purpose and helps them establish goals for which to strive.

As a result, your team members will be inspired to continue working for your business instead of looking for a job that does inspire them.

If you haven’t yet established a strategy for your business, start small with a vision or mission statement. These simple declarations of fact can help guide your team and your business to the next stage of development.

For more resources on organizational strategy, click on the helpful links below:

14) Establish Employee Development Plans

It’s one thing to offer on-the-job training. It’s another thing entirely to show your team members how that training will help them advance in your business.

Establishing individualized employee development plans provides a road map of sorts that allows your team members to apply the training they receive and improve the way they work.

An effective employee development plan should address the before, the during, and the after so that individuals know what to expect from putting in the time and effort to learn new skills or improve current skills.

Offering a personalized development plan gives both new and long-time employees something to look forward to and a sense of personal accomplishment when they reach those milestones.

15) Promote Work/Life Balance

work-life balance can improve employee retention

Work/life balance is essential for employee retention in this fast-paced world. Without it, your employees are going to burn out and start looking for a job that offers them more flexibility.

Whenever possible, give your employees opportunities to find time outside of work for the activities they enjoy. Give them three days off in a row now and then. When they are out of the office, try not to interrupt their downtime unless absolutely necessary.

Another great way to promote work/life balance is to get your team together for a lunch away from the office. This is especially effective at the end of a long project when motivation is at its lowest.

Your employees have likely been focusing the majority of their time and energy on the project to the exclusion of their personal lives. Reward them and give them some time away to recharge and regroup.

And speaking of rewards, don’t neglect to show your appreciation whenever possible. A simple, “Well done!” goes a long way toward giving your employees a sense of work/life balance they can’t get anywhere else.

For more ways to show your appreciation and promote work/life balance, take a moment to read this article:

Increase Employee Retention Through Scheduling

Sling's scheduling feature

One of the best ways to improve employee retention is through scheduling. Offering unique scheduling options gives your employees more control over their work/life balance and makes your business more attractive than other businesses that operate on a strict 9-to-5 schedule.

Examples of different work schedule types include:

Scheduling software like Sling simplifies even the most complicated shifts so that you can sit down, make your schedule, and move on to more pressing matters.

All of Sling’s cloud-based features — from schedule creation to time clock to payroll calculations — make it easy for you to create the best schedule possible, distribute it with ease, make changes, and juggle time-off requests.

Sling app

Sling even provides suggestions and warnings when you’ve double-booked a team member or created a conflict in another part of your schedule. All of this makes Sling the best choice for simplifying your shift work schedule.

So regardless of whether you choose the 9/80 work schedule or a compressed workweek, the best way to plan when your employees will work is with scheduling and time-tracking software like Sling.

For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit today.

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