Once a small business is up and running, holding on to key employees may be the biggest challenge to its continued growth. Smaller enterprises can’t compete with larger firms when it comes to salary and benefits. The talent you have on hand will realistically have other options.
You’ll have to exercise some creativity and prudence to compete. Here are 3 tips for how to retain employees in a small business.
Tip #1: Get it right upfront
Do your homework when making a hire. Don’t just settle for someone because you need to get this role filled or because the first 2 people you offered the job to went elsewhere. Make certain that the person you’re hiring is a good fit for your company, both on skills and personality.
This will have 2 benefits. The most obvious being that you’ll have a good person onboard that’s worth working to retain. The second is that you won’t poison the well with your current employees. In a small environment, it only takes 1 toxic employee to ruin a workplace and that can lead to others choosing to leave.
Tip #2: Be flexible
You might not be able to offer big money and Cadillac benefit packages, but you can be aware of each employees’ unique needs. Does a single parent need to get in at 8:30 rather than the prescribed 8 a.m. start time because the kids need to be dropped off at school? Does someone with ongoing medical conditions often need to go to doctor’s appointments? Back them up.
Furthermore, employees may enjoy working from home a couple days a week. To whatever extent that’s possible, make it happen for them. This is an area where the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic lockdown can provide an opportunity. This time period has been devastating to small businesses, but if anything good can come out of it, perhaps it’s that more businesses have had to find ways to have their people work remotely. Carry the lessons forward as economic activity starts to resume.
Tip #3: Monitor interoffice chemistry
Employees that stay for a long time at a small business will often tell others that their work community feels like a family. This is the biggest thing you have that the larger corporations do not. You can make employees feel like people and not a number. Don’t miss the opportunity. Learn about their lives and, beyond that, watch the interaction they have with each other.
If there’s a mismatch personality-wise, do what you can to mitigate those effects. Where you see 2 people really connecting on a professional level, do what you can to have them work near/with each other. An employee whose best friend is a few feet away is one that’s likely to stay.