By Jane Wesman, president of Jane Wesman Public Relations, Inc., and author of Dive Right In—The Sharks Won’t Bite.
Does this scenario seem familiar to you? You have a terrific job opening. You interview a dozen candidates and hire the person whom you think is going to be perfect. But after just a few months or perhaps a year, your employee becomes sullen and unproductive—and either quits or is asked to leave. And the hiring cycle begins again.
What’s the secret to retaining staff when you’re a small business that doesn’t have the luxury of a big HR department or hefty corporate perks?
Here are eight things you need to do to keep your employees motivated and engaged:
1. Communicate. You must be absolutely clear about what you expect of your employees. This begins during the hiring process. Describe the job and your expectations in realistic, specific, and down-to-earth terms. Once someone begins working with you, reiterate your expectations on a regular basis. And listen carefully to what your employees say in response to make sure that they truly understand what is expected of them.
2. Train. Take the time to carefully train your employees in your methods and ways of doing business as well as best practices for your industry. This is an on-going process. People want to keep growing in their jobs and careers. And training is part of this, no matter how long someone has worked with you.
3. Recognize that people want to do a good job. They do not make mistakes because they think it’s fun, they want to spite you or they want to make you lose money. Don’t freak out when employees slip up. Instead, help them find solutions.
4. Let employees know that you appreciate them. Employees should feel that what they’re doing is important to you and makes a difference to the company. This includes everyone—at all levels and in all roles.
5. Banish fear. Be honest and accessible. Don’t play favorites. And don’t tolerate abusive behavior from anyone—suppliers, clients or employees.
6. Encourage employees to ask questions and make suggestions. Listen to their ideas. Implement the ones that make sense, the ones that would improve productivity or sales, or add to a general sense of well-being in the work environment.
7. Create a workplace that’s efficient and physically comfortable. Consider your employees’ health, time and happiness when buying furnishings and equipment. Don’t skimp on items that will make someone’s job easier and more efficient.
8. If in doubt about how to treat an employee, ask yourself, “Is this the way I would like to be treated?” Create the kind of workspace where you would like to work.