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5 Secrets to Keeping Talent at Your Small Business

Deborah Sweeney
Deborah Sweeney

These five secrets to investing in talent will help your small business go far.

It’s a question as old as time for startups: How can a small business, often limited on funds and flashy incentives that larger corporations offer, retain talented employees? While some businesses will remain confident that a hiring offer will be enough to keep employees, the reality doesn’t always match up to their expectations. All the open vacation policy and commuter reimbursements in the world won’t be enough for emerging stars if they feel like there is something lacking in the company culture — and ultimately, it hurts a company to be seen as a revolving door so soon into being a business.

From providing an enjoyable workload to encouraging honest communication, we reveal the secrets to investing in talent that helps your small business go far.

Create a secure and positive work environment

The old adage of “work hard, play hard” might be revised to “work hard, fair treatment” soon enough. The Harvard Business Review revealed that when an organization struggles financially or displays a negative outlook for business, talented employees become disengaged and begin looking for opportunities elsewhere. Plenty of alternatives plus an outstanding resume equals the confidence in knowing there are other employers that will appreciate what these emerging stars have to bring to the table.

If you want to keep your talented staff, the first step is to create a positive, collaborative workplace atmosphere. This environment should provide security, both financially and within the job role itself. Make your employees feel like assets to the business by greeting them by name each morning and encouraging them to ask questions and engage with others. Offer up small perks, like bagels on Friday or employee of the month awards, to further build up morale within the team.

In short, think of the attributes in a workplace you would feel comfortable and excited to go to each day. Now, create it.

Be transparent

What are your expectations? What are the goals within the role and the department? As reported in the Harvard Business Review, one in five employees believe that their personal aspirations are different from what the organization has planned for them.  

Typically, a job description is responsible for outlining expectations within a position, but sometimes that can come across as muddled or the duties within the role change with time. By being transparent with the employee from the start, you can ensure that your team members are all on the same page.

Provide flexible scheduling options

One major advantage startups have that corporations do not is the ability to offer flex scheduling to their team. Not everyone has a schedule that allows them to work and perform at their best from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. Accommodate the schedules of your employees as much as possible, and watch how much they’ll feel appreciated and motivated to work even harder to achieve the goals of the business.

Offer opportunities for growth

One in three hires will admit that they do not put all of their effort into a job. While the reasons behind this differ depending on the company, it’s a mistake for any company to automatically assume that their staff is highly engaged. When an employee feels underappreciated, they will stop seeing a future for themselves at your company and stop making the extra effort which ultimately hurts the business.

Nip this in the bud by offering opportunities for growth. Give them work that challenges and engages. Specifically, recognize their accomplishments and promote from within. Allow them to transfer to another department based on skill sets. Assign them projects that they have a natural knack for and enjoy. If possible, look into offering telecommuting opportunities or tuition reimbursement for classes that help to further their own development.

Above all, make sure they are aware that there is opportunity for advancement within the company and that their commitment to the workplace is not going unnoticed.

Encourage open communication

Keep all communication open and meet regularly face-to-face for open discussions, both about their workload and future within the company. (Be as available as possible for your team or at least let them know of specific times of the day that are best within your schedule to meet up.)

When meeting, it’s crucial that you do one thing: listen. Encourage discussing any work-related concerns your emerging stars might have and listen openly. If they have new ideas, accept the suggestions and give them feedback on what they’re doing. Provide guidance as needed, address any and all questions, and encourage their own goals.

At the end of the day, talented employees want to make you, and the business, happy and successful. Treat, and recognize, your team like the assets they are and they’ll be in it for the long run.

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Image Credit: Prostock-Studio / Getty Images
Deborah Sweeney
Deborah Sweeney Member
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @deborahsweeney and @mycorporation.