7 Critical Keys to Small Business Employee Loyalty and Retention

employee loyalty and retention

There’s a great scene in “Casablanca” where Sam, the piano player gets the opportunity to move to a rival nightclub and perform for a lot more money:

  • Rick (Humphrey Bogart): Sam, Ferrari wants you to work for him at the Blue Parrot.
  • Sam (Dooley Wilson): I like it fine here.
  • Rick: He’ll double what I pay you.
  • Sam: Yeah, but I ain’t got time to spend the money I make here.

Do you have employees who would stay with you when offered double their current salary by your competitor? That’s a tall order, but the fact is that good, even great, employees quit every day, and not always for jobs that offer higher pay or better benefits. In fact, the primary reason people quit is because of poor management.

The success of your small business depends on having a team filled with people who have the kind of loyalty Sam showed Rick in “Casablanca,” here are seven keys to getting the job done:

  1. Eliminate bad managers. If employees bristle under the supervision of one or two individuals in your small business, you must some changes. You need to work with the supervisors, but if things don’t work out – make a major personnel change. Either move them to nonsupervisory positions, or let them go.
  2. Survey your team. Find out what your employees really think about working in your small business. Solicit suggestions about improvements and find out what things they would like to be doing that aren’t currently happening.
  3. Engage your employees. We toss around the word “engagement” too casually today, so let me unpack it a little so we can get a sense of what it really means as it applies to managing your workforce for more loyalty and better retention.
  • Make employees know that they are part of the process, not merely cogs in a gear wheel.
  • Let employees see the big picture so they understand where you are headed. People don’t do well with surprises.
  • Train and provide opportunities for gaining additional knowledge and skills.
  • Promote from within when you can.

These four elements will make your employees feel like they are players in the game, not just taking up space on the bench. They will help make your employees sense that their future is inextricably tied to the future of your small business.

  1. Make work interesting. Most, but not all, employees like to take on new challenges and get an occasional change of pace. Don’t let someone toil away at the same tasks for years, especially if you’re just making life easy on yourself because you don’t want to have to train or find someone else to do the work.
  2. Build community. If you think about strong communities, you’ll discover that the people in them work together, have fun together and enjoy meals together. You’re meeting the first of these three needs in your small business, be sure you do the others as well. Find time to have some fun and enjoy some meals together.
  3. Keep the conversation going. After you’ve surveyed your team, keep discussing ways to improve the workplace and act on them. Make it a topic at occasional meetings.
  4. Keep up your end of the bargain. For example, if you commit do conducting yearly reviews on anniversary dates, do it. Don’t let them slide. If you are willing to miss deadlines or forget about promises you’ve made, why shouldn’t your employees do the same thing, with each other and with your customers?

When a small business hires its first employee it immediately has two dimensions in its customer service: External customer service, and internal customer service. Often, your employees are your customers; they are expecting you to deliver things to them. If you don’t, you’re failing at customer service.

The beauty of treating employees right is twofold. First, your employee retention rate goes up, which saves you a lot of money and headaches. Second, the quality of life improves for everyone who works in your small business, including yourself.

Sponsored by AT&T