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The Secret to Retaining Your Best Employees

The Secret to Retaining Your Best Employees

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By Allen Farrish

So why can’t I keep my employees? This phrase is heard so often from business owners. The cost of constant employee turnover is far greater than most people realize. The cost of training, mistakes, and lost customer business via new employee errors is tremendous. Even worse is the cost of accidents caused by new people.

The secrets to keeping good employees is simple and common sense. In my 40 years of managing, I have put together the following three items to consider:

1. Hire the Right Employee

It sounds so simple, but this rule is frequently and perhaps habitually ignored. You need to:

Hire people you can trust with your business and customers. Remember that most jobs today are self-supervised. Can you trust this person when you are not on-site?

Hire people with the same ethical values as you. If you would never steal from a business, then don’t hire someone who will steal. Don’t be afraid to ask questions like “Have you every stolen from a business?” or “Have you ever lied on an expense report?” Ask probing questions like what part of a job did they like the most; you may be surprised at the answers you receive.

Hire people who live reasonably close to your business. If the commute is one hour and the job pays $12 per hour, then the employee will fade fast.

Hire bright smart people. We all know that “A” employees outperform “C” employees many times over. “C” employees inevitably make costly mistakes, create bad customer service, irritate the “A” performers, and just drive you crazy. Do not just “settle” because you need to fill a position, and do not be afraid to hire someone smarter than you. Remember the smartest person can one day run your small business when you need to leave town for a few days. Don’t just hire employees who can perform the daily tasks you outline, hire people who can help you take your business higher. These are the employees who can also see new products, processes, and customers.

2. Treat Your Employees Like Gold

Treat your employees like gold because they are the gold of the business. Even with all the technology of today, a business is bust without solid employees. Treating employees like gold encompasses several areas:

Pay. It goes without saying that you will need to pay a bit more to get bright smart “A” people to work for you. Perhaps the “A” people make $14 per hour or $16 per hour rather than $10 per hour. Do not be afraid to pay different workers different rates. Advance the “A” performers faster than the others. If a “C” worker leaves over $10/hour, then so be it; if an “A” employee leaves over $10/hour, then shame on you.

When possible share part of the profits with your employees. If you have an “A” performer knocking it out of the park, then give that person a quarterly bonus.

Staying in touch. Keep in touch with your employees. Compliment them on their performance. Solicit their ideas. Know their families. Sales is famous for using the “relationship” approach with key customers. Successful sales people know that the better the “relationship” with a customer, the higher the chance of business continuity. While you must always maintain the boss/employee relationship, do not be afraid to know their personal needs. Remember that as the manager of a department or owner of a business, you too are selling to your employees. You are selling why your employees should stay with you and drive for higher success.

3. Do the Little Things

While pay is the item that most people assume means the most to employees, it’s actually one of the last items. However, if you do not pay a competitive rate, then your employee turnover will skyrocket; if you pay competitively, then pay is not a top concern. I offer the following items that have worked well for me:

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