Employee Retention

My husband and I own a small business with a dozen employees. We are frustrated because employees only stay with us for a few months and then leave.  How can we retain them?  Any ideas?
 
Your lament is quite common today unfortunately.  Younger people, in particular, can often demonstrate little loyalty and will move to a new employer without warning.
 
It is important to acknowledge that you essentially have two groups of employees: the first group would leave in any event: these are the ”transients.” The second group are those who might remain with the right incentives or encouragement.
 
You should focus your energies on the latter group and accept the reality that you can’t expect to retain everyone, at least for a longer period of time.
 
I’d recommend you sit down with your husband – at the outset – and freely discuss the matter.  What can you control?  What can you learn from those employees who leave after a short tenure with your company?
 
It will likely be productive to perform “exit interviews”: these are often compulsory with larger corporations and allow the employee to freely identify issues that led to the decision to resign.
 
Open-ended questions can elicit more candid responses.  “Probing” will allow the employee to reveal more genuine concerns as opposed to superficial comments that may not address a systemic problem.
 
How are you currently selecting employees?  If the job market is relatively healthy, you may have a limited supply of qualified candidates, but that should not reduce your capacity to make intelligent choices.
 
Are you clearly explaining the nature of the work at the interview stage?  If the applicant is receiving an overly positive impression of the responsibilities, he or she may become immediately disillusioned once hired.
 
As a small company, it will be relatively easy for you and your husband to observe the conduct of employees.  If, for example, you frequently notice that a certain procedure is causing constant frustration, you should address the matter at the earliest opportunity.

All employees will be motivated by money.  Younger employees – those in university, for instance – will move for just a dollar or two an hour.  Regardless of the age or status of employees, they will appreciate knowing you are paying market salaries.
 
Consider the “culture” of the workplace.  Are you nurturing people and making them feel significant?  Do you allow opportunities for input which can improve productivity and employee satisfaction?
 
You and your husband, no doubt, have worked hard to build your business and you need a dedicated and stable workforce to succeed.  Make every effort to understand your employee’s motivations and seek ways to meet their needs.
 
Demonstrating your appreciation for their efforts – through competitive compensation and positive attention – will go a long way in building long-term loyalty.
 
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