Small businesses are having trouble holding on to talented employees these days.
As the economy improves, more people are quitting their jobs to either strike it out on their own or take higher-paying jobs. According to recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data, nearly 2.5 million people voluntarily left their jobs in July, up nearly 9 percent from the 2.3 million who left jobs a year earlier.
This talent flee can be especially painful on small-business owners, who rely on smaller staffs and sometimes have only one or two people overseeing key aspects of their business. One major departure can leave a small business in a lurch.
Andrea Bisconti, owner of Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Willoughby, Ohio, knows such troubles. Bisconti recently found out that one of her top dance instructors, Kellie Love, was planning to leave to start her own business. To prevent Love’s departure, Bisconti decided to make her a business partner.
“My most terrible fantasy was I would see students walk out the door in droves and I would be scrambling,” Bisconti told the Associated Press.
Management experts say that business owners can take steps to reduce the odds that key employees will head for the door. Here are three:
1. Give them good pay and a solid career path. Like Bisconti discovered, key employees are more likely to stay on if they receive the pay and position they desire. Jason Lemkin, founder of two successful businesses, writes on Inc.com that business owners should always pay market rates or higher for their top employees—as soon as they can afford to—and make a plan for how key employees can grow their careers within the business (so they don’t leave for greener pastures).
2. Create a satisfying workplace environment. Companies with the best atmosphere, employee benefits and extra perks like flexible scheduling or gym membership reimbursement have an easier time keeping talented employees. Brad Smith, executive vice president of customer experience for Sage North America, says small employers should consider some key factors: Do you encourage philanthropy among your employees? Do you promote good health among your workforce? Do you show your customers that you care.
3. Encourage employee input and open communications. Businesses that engage their employees and solicit their ideas and input are more likely to keep them around. Some recommendations via The Wall Street Journal: Hold regular meetings where employees are asked to provide ideas and suggestions and have “stay interviews” with longtime employees to find out their goals and what is needed to keep them happy.
Read more articles on hiring and firing.
Photo: Getty Images