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You’ve probably heard the expression your organization is only as good as your people. Business owners know that in order to succeed at any stage, you need strong performers with long-term vision, specialized skills and a positive attitude, along with knowledge of your business and key markets. It’s these core people that will elevate your company and help you grow today, as well as sustain your business when you’re ready to retire.
As a small business owner, it can be a challenge to keep top talent when large corporations are offering perks you simply can’t compete with. But retaining these employees isn’t just important for your short-term business growth, it’s actually essential when transitioning your business to family, employees or an outside party.
When you hand over the reins to someone new, it’s your employees that will provide internal and external continuity; educating new team members and maintaining the trust and relationships you’ve already established. Having committed staff members is also attractive to potential buyers – it signals a stable, functioning work environment and makes it easier to obtain financing. Lenders are looking for assurance a company will survive a transition, and a dedicated employee base is one of the fundamental ways of doing so.
In recognizing this link between retention and succession, small business owners need practical ways of encouraging employee loyalty and job satisfaction. If you can’t compete on lavish corporate perks, at least incorporate business practices that mirror what’s done – and expected – at larger companies.
A formal performance management system provides structure in acknowledging an employee’s contributions to your company. Scheduled reviews allow you to give feedback, while also providing a regular, anticipated opportunity for career advancement and rewards like compensation increases, bonuses or other perks.
Employees also value companies that consider work / life balance. Flexible work arrangements can ensure you keep star performers that may otherwise be forced to find a new role. As a long-term employee retention tactic, you can also build in benefits as staff members hit certain milestones, like increased vacation time after several years of employment.
Most people are looking for ways to climb up the career ladder, and while the ceiling may be lower in small business, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room to grow someone’s responsibilities or tasks. You can also provide professional development opportunities to prepare them for an increased role within your company. Just remember, if you assign more responsibility to someone, they should be compensated for your trust in their potential and expertise. No matter how well you treat an employee, if they find a seismic gap between what you pay them and what they could be making, don’t be surprised if they make an exit.
If you don’t have an employee retention strategy, it’s time to create one – no matter how far away retirement is. You’ll not only have a happier, more productive workforce, you’ll also add value to your business well before you plan to leave, and see a greater return on investment when it comes time to sell.
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