The Secret to Retaining Employees in Your Small Business

Hello, I’m Nicola from The People Mentor, and in today’s podcast, I want to talk about how to retain employees in your small business. 

You remember the initial excitement and, let’s be honest, trepidation about taking on your first employee. The business had grown enough that you could afford help, and after months of researching what you needed to have in place, not to mention searching for and interviewing your ideal candidate, you found them. 

Let’s call them Helen. 

After getting all the basics in place, you invested time and money training her and showing her the ropes. You shared your vision for how she could grow with the business. Everything was great. 

For the first 6 months to a year, Helen really showed up. She was engaged, reliable, and worked hard for you. You were ecstatic to have found someone like her. 

But then, something changed. 

Helen started missing deadlines or not completing tasks the way you had asked her to. She started calling in sick and it became obvious that she had lost the passion she’d had for the role. 

You were at a loss. What had changed? You think of yourself as an understanding, communicative, and open manager, so why did it feel like Helen had become a different person overnight?

Then the day came. Helen handed in her notice. 

Leaving you not just back at square one but looking down the barrel of a whole world of disruption. The business has grown so much that you can’t possibly cope without help, but where would you get that help at such short notice?

Now it’s a fact that sometimes, employees just want to leave, for lots of different reasons. But maybe being left in a lurch like that has got you thinking: is there anything you should be doing to make it less likely that your next employee doesn’t leave? And if you have more than one employee, how are things working? Are things ticking along nicely, or are there signs of disquiet that you’ve buried your head in the sand about?

Let’s look at what you can be doing to retain valuable employees in your small business. 

More than anything, great employees are the biggest asset your business will ever have. And whether they leave because the grass is greener elsewhere or, shock and horror, they don’t like the way you do things, losing employees can end up costing you dearly in terms of lost productivity and recruitment costs. 

For a small business, when an employee leaves, it can be felt more keenly. Say you have a small team of 5, including you. If one person leaves, the others in your already overwhelmed team are left carrying the can. This can cause burnout and disengagement, not to mention impact on the level of service you can offer clients. 

So, how do you avoid this nightmarish scenario and get your brightest and best people to stick around?

Firstly, I would say take the time and effort to recruit the right person. Use the right language in your job ad and really think hard when you’re writing a person specification. My top tip would be to think about the exact kind of person you want to be working alongside you in your business. What do you want from them? What would they want from you?

Try to imagine you’re speaking directly to your dream person. Of course, as well as attracting the right people for interview, it’s important to give them a good experience throughout the interview and induction process. 

Ideally, you want them to feel from day one that your business is exactly where they want to work, do well, grow and develop. 

Secondly, I would think about the benefits you are prepared to offer people. Offering them a decent salary is important, but money is not the main motivator for a lot of people. Many employees will work hard and stay loyal for benefits not related to money, such as flexible working and a clear path of advancement in the business for people who want it. 

Next on the list of things you should be doing to retain good employees is to recognise a job well done. I’m big on this. If you recognise people for hard work, even if it’s a small token, it will be remembered and appreciated. Taking the time to say thank you and being specific about what the person has done well will pay off in terms of making people loyal to you and encouraging them to work hard. 

Recognition is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to creating good relationships with your employees. Believe me, if you want to retain hard-working employees, relationships matter. If your employees get on well with you and their teammates, they are more likely to stay. If there’s no sense of being a team or considering others, people won’t stay. Building good relationships can look like making sure people know that your door is always open if they have a problem or even just taking the time to say hello in the morning and ask how someone is. 

This brings me to the next point. 

As a manager, your job is not just to talk and give orders. A huge part of successful people management (and getting people to stay) is listening. If you don’t listen to your people, they’ll feel like they don’t matter and when people feel like they don’t matter, they don’t stick around. Listen to their ideas, suggestions, and concerns, and see how much of a difference it makes. 

Do you have a problem with retaining employees?

Is your team rife with unresolved performance issues and conflict?

Have you been putting off those difficult conversations that need to happen?

Are you fed up with putting out fires every day and feeling overwhelmed?

Becoming a Managers Academy member can transform your situation and your business. 

Learn how to manage your team confidently and create a harmonious workplace. 

Learn how to deal with conflict and have those conversations you need to have.

Build relationships and the sense of being a team so much that your brightest and best won’t want to leave. Everything they need is here; the grass won’t look greener elsewhere because they’ll be too busy watering their own. 

This is not a pipe dream; it is totally within your reach. 

Invest in a membership where you’ll get the tips, support, advice, and learning to help you build the team and the business of your dreams. 

Want to know what’s possible?

Go to The Managers Academy page to find out more and sign up.

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s podcast, and I look forward to seeing some of you in the membership club soon! 

This is The People Mentor signing off.

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