How Can Small and Medium Businesses Increase Employee Retention?

Hiring the right talent has probably been an employer challenge since medieval bakers sought skilled apprentices to help fill their bread orders. From a simple ratio perspective, employees at small and medium businesses have more impact on their success than at large corporations and conglomerates, making those hiring decisions even more critical.

But once employees are hired, they’re not chained to your company by ironclad lifetime contracts. And if you coveted their services, chances are there are other organizations who would like to hire them, too.

Finally, the current job market, impacted by factors including the waning of the pandemic and the increase in remote and hybrid opportunities, presents job seekers — most of whom are already gainfully employed — more choices than ever before.

That’s why retaining employees is as vital to the health of your business as hiring them.

The Risks of Employee Dissatisfaction

The common complaint “I feel like just a number” is easy to dismiss as a cliché, but it’s valid shorthand for feeling disengaged, unvalued, and even taken for granted.

Employee dissatisfaction is usually caused by not just one single thing, but rather several issues that over time become part of the fabric of your workplace environment. Just as customers have a perception of a company’s brand that might not align with how the company wishes to be viewed, so too can the company’s employees develop a negative impression of its “internal” brand.

Unhappy employees often leave. But it’s sometimes worse when they stay, and not just because they may post negative Glassdoor reviews about your company. Apathetic employees can reduce productivity, and disgruntled employees can create a work environment that’s stressful or even hostile, and which can contaminate the “good” employees like a virus.

When you have a positive work environment, engaged employees are more collaborative and productive. If they’re in customer-facing roles, they’ll directly improve your brand image. And most important to the future of your business, they’ll become trusted ambassadors for referring candidates to your next round of open roles.

The Benefits of a Comprehensive Retention Strategy

Unless you can offer 10 times the market rate for the roles at your organization, it’s going to take more than just a competitive salary to keep your employees happy — and some would still consider leaving, anyway.

Employee retention isn’t about flipping switches when people start to grumble. It requires a strategy as thorough as what’s needed to maintain any other employer resource, from the supply chain to the network infrastructure.

Businesses make considerable efforts during the hiring process to make their opportunities the most desirable. Those efforts shouldn’t stop once the candidate accepts to the offer. Each stage of the employee’s tenure — starting even before their first day — presents opportunities to cultivate a strong relationship that makes them less likely to leave.

Learn Actionable Retention Strategies Today

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to effective employee retention. You need to develop a plan that fits your needs based on factors including your business size, employee demographics, industry, and budget — though several strategies are inexpensive or require no monetary investment to execute.

You also need to consider the kind of workplace you want to be, which requires thoughtful consideration with your leadership team as well as with representatives from the rank-and-file.

Download the white paper, Retention Strategies for Small and Mid-Sized Businesses, to start the ball rolling on how to keep your best employees productive, engaged — and retained.

Download White Paper