The Best Small Businesses Know How to Keep the Best Employees

Good help may be easier to find than the old saying suggests, but it’s certainly harder to keep. Even in areas where the economy is relatively slow, good employees usually have no difficulty finding a job that suits them better.

And it’s not always a matter of money. Everyone appreciates a bigger paycheck, of course, but quality of life issues are increasingly taking precedence in today’s time-crunched world. Employees want careers that complement their lifestyles, rather than dictate them. And if they are that good, as noted earlier, chances are that a “perfect job,” or at least one close enough to it, will find them.

The Best Small Businesses Know How To Keep The Best EmployeesWhat can you do to keep those special employees on your staff instead of someone else’s?

Here are some ideas:

Talk to them and listen. A solid employer-employee relationship begins with communication. Schedule regular meetings to discuss what’s going on with the company, what customers are talking about and other timely issues.

If you’re considering investing in new equipment or offering new products or services, ask employees what they think of the idea. They may have perspectives or suggestions you hadn’t thought of.

Equalize expectations. Similarly, make sure each employee knows what’s expected of him/her, and how performance is to be evaluated and rewarded.

Annual reviews are the norm, but more frequent meetings may help identify areas for improvement or opportunities to adjust duties and expectations, particularly if your business is in the midst of change. That also includes providing a clear path for advancement within your company as it grows.

Be flexible. Look at your operations and see if it might be possible to make employees’ hours more flexible, perhaps working longer hours in exchange for an extra full day off, or allowing them to work from home on some days.

Also, give employees the choice of using vacation time little by little throughout the year, rather than a single one-time block. Of course, individual requests will have to be coordinated with other workers to make sure all functions are covered.

Help them learn. Good employees always want to learn new skills. Consider offering a tuition reimbursement or cost-sharing on job-related training and professional development courses.

Yes, there’s a risk that the employee will take that newfound knowledge elsewhere, but your encouragement and support improves the odds that they’ll stay put.

To learn more about employment issues facing your small business, contact Raleigh SCORE. We provide free, confidential business mentoring and training workshops to small business owners. To schedule a free appointment with our experienced counselors, go to, or call us at 919-856-4739.