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7 Ways to Retain Your Star Employees

Mike Kappel
Mike Kappel

Use these seven techniques to keep your star employees from slipping through your fingers.

If you're like many business owners, you have spent years or even decades assembling an all-star staff. Speaking from experience, it takes a lot of time and patience to search for the cream of the crop.

But now that you've got your dream employees and team, how can you prevent them from jumping ship? As an employer, one of your worst nightmares is probably losing your star employees. 

If you want to prevent your star team from dwindling, you need to know how to retain your employees and keep them shining in your business. You're probably wondering, "How the heck do I do that?" Follow the six strategies below to get started.

1. Be open, honest and transparent.

Are you a fan of liars? Nope. What about people who act fake? Absolutely not. If you want to keep your star employees, you need to be open, honest and transparent. And, you most definitely need to be yourself. 

If you want your employees to stick around, be real with them. Employees want to work for an employer they trust. They won't want to work for someone who isn't transparent with them. 

So, how do you keep it real in your business without coming off like a kook? Baby steps, my friends. 

Start by being candid with your employees. If there are any changes occurring within your company, tell them first. Share the good, the bad and the ugly with your employees. Chances are good that they will appreciate your honesty. 

You can also be open with employees about your past experiences. Tell them about the lessons you've learned over the years. Discussing your setbacks shows your employees you can overcome any challenge you set your mind to. Not to mention, storytelling can be fun. 

As your business grows, you can also do other things to remain transparent in the workplace, such as creating core values. It took me 25 years before I solidified the core values for my business and employees to follow. But better late than never, right?

Take transparency day by day. The more open you are with your employees, the more likely it is that your star employees will be in it for the long haul.

2. Create a welcoming workplace.

If you want your star employees to thrive at your business, you need to welcome them with open arms. Who wants to work in an uninviting work culture? I know I wouldn't.

From day one, your employees should feel welcomed and accepted at your business. Whether it's a full-blown welcoming committee or a few friendly smiles, trust me when I say that your employees will appreciate it. 

Come up with strategies to keep employees feeling continually welcomed. That way, they're excited to come to work every day.

You can divide your employees into teams so that they see familiar faces and work with the same group each day. Teams also give employees an opportunity to improve their teamwork and communication skills. Not to mention, great teamwork can boost productivity. 

Also, consider promoting team bonding exercises and activities. This could be anything from educational workshops to team lunches. Don't be afraid to suggest some out-of-the-box bonding strategies. The opportunities are endless when it comes to team activities.

3. Take employees' feedback seriously.

Some employers can get robotic when it comes to feedback. They're programmed to smile, nod and say "thank you" when given suggestions. Instead of brushing off employees' feedback, take it seriously.

If employees feel like they aren't being heard, they may be prone to leave your business for a company that listens. And who wants to lose their star employees to another business? Hopefully, you don't.

When employees come to you with feedback (both good and bad), make sure your ears are open. Listen to what your employees have to say about your business. 

You might receive feedback from employees on a day-to-day basis or in a more formal setting, like during performance reviews. Either way, make sure you're prepared to hear employees out.

If you truly want to take feedback seriously, you need to make some changes in the workplace based on the feedback you hear. If multiple employees are giving you the same constructive criticism, it's time to make a change. Plus, implementing changes shows employees you care about their ideas and opinions. 

4. Expose them to new roles and responsibilities.

The future of your company is in your employees' hands. If you want to continue to see your business succeed, you have to give employees a voice and expand their responsibilities. 

Giving employees new roles and additional tasks builds character. It can expand their knowledge in different areas and departments. Not to mention, adding responsibilities can evolve employees' strengths and improve their weaknesses. 

A good way to give employees more of a voice in your company and to enhance their leadership skills is by creating committees. At Patriot Software, we have various committees to discuss ideas and improvements. The committees give our employees a chance to be innovative as well as lead others. 

If you're not quite ready to dive into committees just yet, I get it. Instead, try doling out different projects or tasks to employees to see how they handle it. 

5. Treat employees the way you want to be treated.

You likely know the Golden Rule, "treat others how you want to be treated." What you might forget to do is apply this rule to the way you treat your employees. If you want to keep stellar employees around, you need to be respectful.

Put yourself in your employees' shoes for a second. Was that comment you made during the meeting rude? Do you make others scared to speak with you? If you answered yes to both of these questions, you need to take a step back and rethink the way you treat employees.

Mistreating employees is a surefire way to scare away your top talent. Instead of scaring off employees, get to know them on a personal level and talk to them like they're human beings. 

Take a few minutes out of your day or week to chat with your workers. A quick "how are you doing?" at the water cooler can make a world of difference. This shows your workers that you don't just view them as your worker bees. 

6. Show your staff your appreciation and praise.

According to one Gallup study, half of employees say they would switch jobs for more recognition. Yes, you read that right – half!

No one likes feeling underappreciated, including your employees. If you want to retain your star employees, you need to show them you appreciate what they do for your business. 

So, how can you express your appreciation? Don't worry, I'm full of ideas. Employee work anniversary? Grab a card and some balloons. Did your employee go above and beyond their sales goal? Take them out to a nice lunch. Showing appreciation doesn't have to break your bank.  

Don't wait to show your appreciation for when your employees accomplish something. Be sure you're showing it all year round. You can throw work events, like a company picnic, to give your employees a bit of a break and encourage camaraderie. 

At my company, we love to spoil our employees regularly. In the past, we've brought in smoothies, rented an ice cream truck and had a roller rink party to celebrate our employees. 

7. Offer clear communication.

You've heard it before – communication is key. And boy, I know this all too well. If you want to steer your top-notch employees clear of leaving, you need to communicate with them.

Fostering a positive workplace with open communication goes a long way to help keep employees satisfied. If your employees are happy, they are less likely to look elsewhere. 

Strive to always communicate with your workers in every aspect of your business. Let employees know what's expected of them. 

Be open to answering employees' questions and provide guidance when needed.

When employees come to you with things, be careful not to hover. Nobody likes a dreaded micromanager. If you want to avoid losing star employees, micromanaging is not the way to go. Let employees work independently as much as possible, but communicate with them that you're always there if they need you.

Image Credit: Alife/Getty Images
Mike Kappel
Mike Kappel Member
I'm founder and CEO of Patriot Software, LLC. I have over 30 years of entrepreneurial experience across five startups. I started Patriot Software in the basement of a factory and grew it into a multi-million dollar company that serves small businesses all across the United States. I know what small business owners and entrepreneurs face because I've faced it myself.