U.S. jobless claims—the number of Americans on the unemployment rolls—plunged to a 15-year low in January, according to a new government tally. Though the drop may be somewhat exaggerated due to seasonal fluctuations, it’s still a clear sign that the U.S. job market continues to spring back to life.
“The labor market’s in good shape going into 2015 and looks like it will be in good shape for the rest of the year,” Guy Berger, an economist at RBS Securities Inc. told Bloomberg. “There’s nothing wrong and almost everything right with the economy right now.”
A separate new Labor Department report showed that 2014 was the best year for job growth since 1999.
While a buoyant job market is good for the U.S. economy overall, and certainly for job seekers, it presents a big concern for some small businesses: Your employees might start looking for a new job and better pay now that everyone’s hiring again. How can small businesses retain their best employees in today’s hot jobs market?
1. Conduct “stay interviews.” If you haven’t already, now might be a good time to find out why your employees like their jobs—and why they don’t. Conducting so-called stay interviews can help. Do interviews with your key employees and ask them stay interview questions such as: “What is your dream job?” “What do you like least about your job and the workplace?” Asking such questions sooner than later can help ensure you’re giving employees what they want out of their jobs and reduce the likelihood they’ll hunt for a new job.
2. Keep your wages competitive. Pay isn’t everything, but it can be a top factor for employees considering a job switch. Sites like Glassdoor.com can give you at least a basic idea of what other employers in your industry and area pay.
3. Add more “soft” perks. If you can’t compete on pay with major competitors, look for ways to make your workplace culture and environment more inviting. Many employees, for example, might embrace flexible scheduling or the ability to work from home occasionally. Free food and more paid time off are also among the most popular employee perks, according to Forbes contributor Kate Harrison.
4. Offer growth opportunities. Small companies sometimes lose talented employees because they can’t offer the career advancement opportunities afforded by larger companies. You may want to think about how you can offer professional growth to your star employees—even if that’s giving them a better title along with that raise or paying for training. Each employee may desire a different path, so it's good to discuss their job goals during their stay interviews.
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