How Small Businesses/Startups Can Better Retain Employees
The other day, someone asked me the following: “I run a small business but I find a hard time keeping employees here long-term. Do you have any thoughts on how I can do a better job with retention?”
Here are my pieces of advice:
1. Ask yourself: a) What are the pros of small business/why do people like working in them? b) Then ask yourself, am is my organization maintaining those values?
You might sit down and write the list of pros of working in small business as the following:
- People don’t feel like a cog in the system (people feel like they matter and their impact/work matters)
- The systems aren’t so professionalized that the organization runs slow — One of the biggest complaints for working in big corporate environments is everything needs approval and we move very slow. Make sure you don’t run like a big company.
- Employees have the opportunity gain more responsibility
I just wrote 3 that came to my mind, but you can either think or google other reasons why people prefer working in small business environments compared to bigger corporate environments.
Once you have a list of values, now it’s a matter of maintaining those values you wrote above. Is your organization doing a good job with the above values? If yes, continue to do what your’e doing. If not, how can you change and improve?
2. Do the things all companies should do in terms of retaining employees:
This is pretty obvious advice, but sometimes employee retention doesn’t come down to small business or big business, it comes down to are you doing the basic, general things to retain employees?
Example questions you may want to reflect on:
1) Does the organization have good corporate culture and try to actually live based on those values?
2) Do supervisors/managers do check ins/evaluations every so often and communicate with employees what they
3) Do supervisors/managers ask employees what they’re hopes and desires are and check in with what’s important to them
- I think this is the biggest one. Ask your employees — What is their internal purpose? What are they motivated by? How does your company help them with that?
- With the first bullet being the more intrinsic, also know about the practical — the financial/benefits portion. Again, every person is different. Someone want a certain salary increase every year. Some just want certain hours and that to not change.
- Make sure you’re asking and trying your best to help your employees get what they want.
3. What can you offer that bigger businesses can’t?
Most things in life come down to leverage. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses and position yourself where more strengths are shown.
Every small business is different.
But can you offer profit sharing as a part of their benefits, can you offer equity in the company, can you give higher rate increases?
I think if you do these 3 things, you’ll be able to retain employees longer.