How to retain your best people in a small business

By: Guest contributor

Date: 21 November 2013

How to retain your best people in a small business/golfish jumping to a bigger bowl{{}}Big companies can offer big salaries, big development plans and big brand recognition, but they can also offer big office politics and big anonymity. Therefore, as a small-business owner, you have an ideal opportunity to offer the best careers to the best people. This isn’t always obvious, though. Here are a few simple guidelines to follow, which should ensure you retain the superstars you worked hard to recruit and train.

1. Communicate

Strive to make it clear that bigger companies cannot offer what you can. Make sure you have strong relationships with your team, where you speak openly about the differences between your company and an anonymous conglomerate.

2. Autonomy

In any business, value and trust are essential. In large companies, people may never be given autonomy to take risks. They may never have opportunities to try something new. In a smaller company, you know that you have to take risks and trust people. Remind your employees that this is unique and how much you value their ability to work independently.

3. Authority

In a big company, even the smallest things may need to be approved and approved again. Make your team aware that you trust them to make good decisions. Remind them that processes work very differently in bigger companies and urge them to speak to friends working for large companies to discover how much authority they have. The answers may surprise them!

4. Make a difference

People need to have meaning in their lives and work often takes up a huge part of life. In a large company, employees may feel that they are small cogs in a big wheel. Happily, and inevitably, in a small business, every person counts. All contributions make a difference and you stand a much better chance of having your opinion heard. People can feel they are making a real difference. Never under-estimate the value of this!

5. No politics please

Everyone hates office politics. Happily, a small business is often far too busy selling, growing, and making products better. There’s neither the will nor the time for politics!

The most important element of any business is its people, something recognised by Anne M. Mulcahy, former chairperson and CEO of Xerox Corporation, who stated: “Employees are a company's greatest asset. You want to attract and retain the best; provide them with encouragement, stimulus, and make them feel that they are an integral part of the company's mission”. And in no place is this more possible than in a small business.

  • Blog supplied by Heather Foley, consultant at UK-based HR consultancy ETS.

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