A really good employee – one whose work ethic, skills, and personality are a great fit for your business – is hard to find. These days, it may be harder than ever; a recent national survey found that the percentage of business owners reporting they have jobs they are unable to fill (29 percent) is the highest it’s been since 2006.
As the owner of a small business, you don’t have limitless resources to bring in new talent, but you do have excellent options for keeping top performers happy. Consider the following guidelines:
Get the compensation right. Hard work can be rewarded in a lot of ways, but money and benefits are right up there. In fact, a recent national survey by global staffing firm, Robert Half, found that a quarter of companies reported losing employees in the past year to a job that paid more.
Your goal should be to provide a salary, based on parameters that you can explain to a key employee, so that he or she feels fairly compensated. So how do you get the range right? You can find United States salary data in a number
of places, including RobertHalf.com and Salary.com. Additional good sources for market rate salaries include other business owners in your area, owners of temp agencies, and your local or state chamber of commerce.
You might also consider providing an executive benefit plan, which can add life insurance, disability, or supplemental retirement benefits for a key employee.
Think past the paycheck. Owners of small businesses have the option to offer a number of cost-effective, but meaningful, perks that make a top employee feel valued. These can include taking him or her out to lunch, providing a gift certificate to a local restaurant, extra vacation days, or even a flexible schedule that allows working from home.
“Invest” in your good people. Let a valued staffer feel that his or her career can grow as the business does. “Where does the employee see himself or herself in three to five years? What areas of the business would he or she like to learn more about?” says E-Myth certified business coach, Jennifer Martin, of Zest Business Consulting in San Francisco. “Then, set them up for success.” Pay for work-related seminars, courses, or conferences; think of projects within other parts of the company that the employee can “stretch” for.
Create a positive employee culture. Big companies do this by creating elaborate statements and programs; owners of small businesses can achieve their ends by everyday actions:
- Share your vision, goals, and expectations
- Give every employee a chance to be respectfully heard
- Check in frequently on how projects or tasks are going
- Notice employee contributions and encourage others to do so
- Have quarterly employee town hall meetings where everyone can discuss the business.
All these actions will foster a culture of camaraderie and pride. “One of the greatest incentives a business owner can provide is the chance to belong to a first-rate team, and an outstanding organization,” says business speaker and author Barry Maher. “One of my clients is the United States Army. Why do people perform so heroically in battle? Of course they love their country. But when you ask them about it, the answer you get is often the same one you get from championship sports teams: They did it for their teammates, because they didn’t want to let them down. And they felt like they were part of something special.”