When you run a small business, you might think your most important “secret ingredient” is your products, or your location, or even the sign outside your business. These are all important, but when you think about it carefully, your true secret ingredient is your staff. You may have the best product in the city, but you need great people to sell it, and you need great people to keep your business running smoothly, whether it means doing accounts or delivering a shipment of goods.
Now, once you have great employees, you want to keep them! This can be a challenge to small businesses because of the cost and the temptation for staff to leave for what seems like a better job. So here are some tips from the experts on how to keep you best employees, so they continue to make your business the best!
- Express appreciation. Too often, difficult employees are the ones who get all the attention! Make sure that staff who show up every day and do great work without causing any trouble know that they are appreciated. Send thank you emails or texts, and take time to walk up to them in person and say thank you. A simple “great job” is usually all it takes! Don’t wait until the end of the year or their performance review. Do it immediately after they’ve done something well.
- Recognize achievements. In addition to informal appreciation, set up recognition programs, e.g. employee of the month. As well, recognize personal achievements: birthday greetings, a gift card on their company “anniversary date”; and seasonal events with staff celebrations.
- Connect one-on-one: Relationships matter. Mingle with staff during lunch breaks in order to get to know them beyond their “work persona”. You don’t want to be always hanging around, but you do want staff to know that you understand their job, how they work, what they do. Remember, everyone likes to be heard. Listen when they make suggestions and resist the urge to make judgement.
- Be on their side when it matters. The customer may be “always right” but no one should be subject to harsh words or bullying. Recently, we witnessed an unhappy customer complaining in a loud voice to a receptionist. Fortunately, the boss overheard and came out to defend his staff. Well done!
- Set up a creative workplace. Your competitors may be able to offer higher pay, but employee satisfaction almost always wins out or wages. Consider non-monetary benefits such as a flexible work schedule, a day off for their birthday, training days, or a chance to visit a trade show.
- Hire right. It goes without say, hire right in the first place. Take your time and check references by asking direct questions such as, “would you hire this person again?” Picking the right person is the first step to having great employees!
Great staff is the lifeblood of any small business. Keep them engaged and keep them happy, and you’ll all benefit from your success!