Keep Your Best Employees – Here’s How:

SCOREThis article is provided by the Greater Scranton Area SCORE chapter.

Losing a valued employee is something business owners hate to do.  As hard as it is for a small business to find and train good people, it’s even more difficult sometimes to hang on to them once they become top performers.

Motivated, productive employees can be vital in getting a business off the ground or helping it soar. And the issue of retaining good people is an especially tricky one for a small business. That’s because the number one reason good employees leave is a lack of advancement opportunity—precisely the thing that many small businesses can’t offer.

A survey by Robert Half International, conducted by an independent research firm, examined the reasons that “top” employees, those considered good performers by their bosses, left the business. Here’s what they found:

• Limited advancement opportunity: 39 percent
• Unhappy with management: 23 percent
• Lack of recognition: 17 percent
• Inadequate salary/benefits: 11 percent
• Bored: 6 percent
• Lifestyle change, such as moving: 2 percent
• Other/don’t know: 2 percent

The message for business owners is clear, says Max Messmer, CEO of Robert Half. “Helping top performers reach their goals is essential to keeping them. The best employees are ambitious and may not stay in a job long if it lacks growth potential.”

If promotions aren’t an option at your business, you can still find ways to reward extra effort. It doesn’t have to be money. If budgets are tight, consider a more flexible schedule or larger workspace. Praise should be frequent and personalized, but it does not have to be costly or time consuming. A simple thank you note can be an effective motivator.

Take the pulse of employee perceptions in your business. Are they happy doing what they do? Ask their opinions on the work environment and changes that might enhance their loyalty.

Since your best employee probably carries the biggest load and is least likely to complain, you also should try to avoid employee burnout. Consider bringing in temp help during crunch times as one way to ease the load. And try to make it fun. Boring jobs and boring businesses have more trouble keeping good employees.

For additional planning help for your small business, contact SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business.”  SCORE is a nonprofit organization of more than 10,500 volunteer business counselors who provide free, confidential business counseling and training workshops to small business owners.  Call (570) 851.1608 or visit to contact the Greater Scranton Area SCORE Chapter.