How to Retain Top Talent

— November 7, 2016

Talented individuals at your company can help your operations run smoothly and grow your business. When you fill positions with valuable employees at your small business, you want to keep those employees as long as possible.

On the other hand, high employee turnover is not what you want when it comes to valuable workers. First, there is the upfront cost of losing their knowledge and skills. Second, there is the cost of marketing an open position or paying recruiters. And, you lose productivity when you have to constantly pull employees from their regular duties to train new hires.

As a serial entrepreneur and long-time employer, I know the importance of retaining workers. My company, Patriot Software, is successful today because of the valuable employees who have worked here over the years.

Dedicated, long-term employees can help drive your company towards success. You need to know how to retain top talent at your small business.

How to retain talented employees

In the U.S., the average employee turnover rate across all industries was 15.1% in 2013. But, studies say you should aim for a 10% turnover rate. Getting your turnover rate to an ideal percentage means you need to implement ways to retain talent.

Employers want to keep good employees as long as they can. Let’s discuss a few methods I use for retaining talent in a competitive market.

1. Hire the right person

Employee retention begins with the hiring process. The key to retaining qualified personnel is knowing how to hire great employees from the start.

To attract candidates that are right for your business, describe your company’s culture in your advertisement. Instead of being vague, give real examples of your company in action. Show how the company operates, what its expectations are, and its values.

At Patriot, my hiring managers tell candidates about our work environment from the start. The culture centers around hard work, family, and respect, and we let potential employees know it the first time they’re contacted.

Often, employees leave companies because they do not like the culture. Knowing if a candidate fits into your culture helps you avoid needing to replace them soon after the hire. Advertise, interview, and hire with an honest reflection of your company.

2. Review performance frequently

In an ideal work situation, an employee would know where they stand with the company at all times. But, it’s not feasible for an employer to review an employee every day. I think it’s best to do an employee performance review every six months.

Create benchmarks that give each employee an idea of how they are performing their jobs. Metrics are useful for measuring benchmarks. For example, you can see if an employee met a certain volume of sales by a predetermined date.

Setting goals helps retain talent because employees understand their expectations. Employees have benchmarks to work toward, instead of just punching the time clock each day. When you acknowledge an employee meeting a goal, they are more likely to feel appreciated and stay at your business.

3. Foster open communication

Performance isn’t the only thing your employees may want to address. They might want to express their ideas about the direction of the company or their position. They might also need support as they go through personal problems. These issues can impact your business as well as the employee’s motivation.

Listen to an employee’s concerns before they cite them as a reason for leaving in an exit interview. Employees who feel like they can’t express their concerns might look for work at a business that encourages open communication.

4. Create opportunities for growth

All I’ve ever wanted to do is run my own company. That’s why I quit my engineering job so I could start my own business.

Employees may not be interested in quitting their jobs to start a business, but there will be times when they will need a break or change. Employees need expansion and diversity in their work. It’s up to you to decide if they’ll find these new roles within your company or elsewhere.

You should proactively create opportunities for growth at your business. Don’t wait until an employee comes to you in desperate need of change. By then, they’ve already reached a point of dissatisfaction with their work.

To encourage growth, you can promote employees to fill higher-level positions. Also, you can encourage and help employees further develop their skills. Let your employees know if you offer reimbursement for continued education, travel, and seminars. These opportunities are not only great ways to add skills to your workforce, but they also satisfy an employee’s itch to grow.

5. Create an inclusive atmosphere

An employee who feels that their job doesn’t matter will likely go somewhere they feel appreciated. Let employees know they play an important part of the company’s big picture to create an inclusive atmosphere.

Think about an inclusive atmosphere like this: If your employees were asked how their position helps the company, what would they say? Each employee at your company should feel that they have a role to play.

6. Keep your values clear and true

A larger number of employees choose to work for companies that have strong values. Some employees see their choice of workplace as an extension of their own values. If a company does not stay true to its values, employees may leave.

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Author: Mike Kappel

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