Five Strategies to Prevent Your Best Employees from Walking Out the Door

A stellar team can help move your business in the right direction. As a small business owner, you know that finding and keeping the right staff is critical for daily and long-term success. 

But, how do you hold on to your people when America is amid a “great resignation” that affects small and large businesses? 

As the pandemic wanes and people start to evaluate their lives and careers against a new backdrop, you want to ensure that your employees decide to stay with you. Understanding why people leave jobs and knowing a few key retention strategies can help keep your best employees on board, even when the job market is sizzling hot.


Understand Why People Leave Jobs

People leave jobs for as many different reasons as there are jobs. As an employer, some of the transitions are expected and outside of your control. For example, an employee who finishes a degree may decide to move on to a job in her field of study. Sometimes people have new family obligations–or family commitments change–and they choose to scale back or increase work obligations. Likewise, sometimes interests just change or curiosity drives people to try new things. 


In these cases, there’s not much you can do as an employer. Generally, the best option is to thank the employee for her service and end the relationship positively. Doing so means you are poised to continue a good relationship with that person. In some cases, the employee may return to you later or suggest an equally great friend as a resource.


However, some resignations are closely linked to employer actions and policies. Many times, employers are blind to the things that frustrate employees. For example, a lack of day-to-day flexibility or a strict vacation policy might send some employees packing. Employees who feel under-appreciated or sense conflict in the ranks also may leave.


The key is to know which issues are within your sphere of influence and which are not. If the problem is one you can control, proactive planning can prevent resignations and keep your all-star staff on board. 


Communicate Clearly with Your Team Members

Like so many aspects of life, communication is the key to a productive working relationship. To know what matters to your employees, keep the lines of communication open. It may feel awkward, but a simple call every few weeks to ask your team members what’s working and what’s not working can go a long way toward enhanced communication.


When you call, express that you are open to feedback and changes based on what you hear. Take input from employees in stride. When an employee is brave enough to share her thoughts and frustrations with you, respect the courage it took to speak up. If the feedback hurts or is contrary to what you expected, take a deep breath and vow to consider it.


When team members share frustrations, ask them to suggest ways to address concerns they have. An employee with a concern often has a solution in mind, which relieves you from solving the problem. If you hear the same feedback from several employees, encourage them to form a committee to address the issue and bring potential solutions to you.


In some cases, employees just want to be heard and know that you care. Making the call and asking the questions is an excellent step in that direction.


Share Feedback

One way to show your team love is to provide feedback on the regular. No need to wait for a performance review to talk about skill development. When employees see that you have taken the time to notice their work, provide feedback, and suggest new ways to grow, they know you care and feel valued.


When you see an employee struggling, encouraging feedback can make a huge difference. Likewise, when you see an employee thriving, mention that to her. Finally, if you sense an employee is bored or restless, finding a growth opportunity can help provide a challenge that keeps her engaged and highlights possibilities for future opportunities.


Recognize, Recognize, Recognize

In the workplace, recognition can fuel your team through challenging projects and encourage them to keep up the excellent work. It also serves as a reminder that you see each employee and appreciate the work they are doing. 


Recognition can be as easy as a phone call or an email that says, “hey, I notice what a good job you are doing.” Another strategy is to thank people at the end of a workday or after a challenging meeting.


Recognition can also take additional forms. Having a wide range of recognition tools makes the practice easier for you. But, when you manage a team of remote workers, the traditional ways of thanking your team and showing appreciation may be more difficult. Team lunches, impromptu gatherings, or stops at the local cafe for a quick “well done” treat are tougher to pull off when your team is scattered all over the country. 


Check out this blog for tips to make recognition a habit and to find no and low-cost ways to recognize your team.


Keep Pay and Benefits Current 

At the end of the day, your employees are generally working to support families. So, keeping pay and benefits current is an essential factor in retaining staff. It’s easy to forget about pay adjustments when you are busy doing good work with a great team. But, if your employees have been receiving the same pay for a year or more, it’s time to do some research. Here’s how:


  • Ask around to find out what like-businesses are paying for similar jobs.
  • Inquire about benefit offerings, including vacation time and flexibility.
  • Compare the data you gathered to your pay structure.
  • Make adjustments as needed. 
  • Communicate the changes–and the thinking behind them–to your team.


Be open about pay and benefits as you talk to your team members. Explain the research you did and the cost pressures you are facing in discussing pay. If you can’t increase pay or change benefits, be open with your team about that and explore whether other forms of compensation might be mutually acceptable.


Be Flexible and Offer Flexibility

As the pandemic winds down, people (especially moms!) may need new and different types of schedules. Be open to looking at and discussing new options. Offering a little additional flexibility in the short term could help you retain a valuable staff member for years to come.


How Do You Retain Staff?

I’d love to hear your tricks for keeping staff on board. Drop me a line and share your best tips.



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Leadership, Remote Teams, Small Business, Virtual Team