How 13 Small Business Owners Retain Talent

Amid a year marked by a great resignation, we want to know how small business owners are retaining talent. From making the workplace fun to offering great benefits, here’s how 13 small business owners invest in their teams.

1. Offering Career Counseling Programs

“In a world plagued by unemployment and a competitive job market, your team should know you want to see them excel. I retain my top talent by offering career counseling and other mentorship programs. Employees are more likely to continue working for you if they see you caring for their professional growth. There’s no better way to do this than through career coaching.

Career counseling means they won’t have to worry about unemployment. Instead, employees can work their way up the corporate ladder within your company. They’ll know you’ll provide them with every opportunity needed to grow. As a result, this boosts your retention rates.” — Eyal Pasternak, real estate agent, Liberty House Buying Group

2. Build a Mission-Driven Organization

“Our success in retaining talent is because our entire organization is mission-driven and committed to our cause rather than the bottom line.

While it’s more important than ever to tell consumers why your business is socially beneficial for the long term, putting purpose first gives employees something to aspire to outside of making money. And when they know they’re working for something bigger than themselves — not just the bottom line — they’re more willing to go the extra mile. It’s essential to reinforce your mission and values daily to keep the momentum going strong.

As more employees continue to leave their jobs to work for companies which effect positive change in society and the environment, building your purpose into your brand story helps to attract top talent motivated to work for the greater good.” — Maria Shriver, co-founder and CEO, MOSH

3. Know What Motivates Your Team

“The single greatest thing business owners can do to retain their employees is to understand what motivates them.

You must be committed to understanding what motivates each of your employees and what makes them stay. Everyone’s reasons will be different. Have this level of understanding to understand what is the lever which is most impactful to them. Without it, any sort of program deployed across the company will be a blunt object with limited results.” — Eytan Bensoussan, CEO, NorthOne

4. Ensure Work Life Balance

“A healthy work-life balance is essential for employee satisfaction. Employees are more likely to perform poorly at work if they have less time for their families, health, and leisure.

When your team is under excessive strain, staff burnout is also likely to occur. This has an impact on the standard of work and overall productivity. The truth is having content employees benefits not only them but also the performance of your company.” — Kathryn McDavid, CEO, Editor’s Pick

5. What’s Your Purpose?

“I have worked with a lot of small businesses which have struggled to retain talent, and one of the biggest reasons is a lack of purpose. Our generation is looking for more meaning from our jobs. If you are a small business owner, you have the power to give this to your employees.

You might not be a non-profit or a social enterprise, but you can still have a positive impact on your local community. Come up with a mission aligned with your business. Ask your employees for ideas on how you can make a difference in your community. This not only helps you retain talent, but it boosts employee engagement and gives your company a positive reputation in your local community.” — Luciano Colos, owner, PitchGrade

6. Ownership

“What we do is give every employee full ownership of their position.

This means they are fully competent, responsible, and autonomous. We care about them and help them when in need. When a person owns their post, they have pride and dignity in it, and they stay a long time.” — Joy Gendusa, founder and CEO, PostcardMania

7. Create a Positive Work Environment

“I’ve always found one strategy for employee retention to be simpler and cheaper than all the rest. You simply create an environment where people want to work.

We all know our people can achieve more than they believe they can achieve. Build them up. Show them the vision you have for what they can become and what they can accomplish. This is a vision you may have helped to instill but one you’ve worked out with them so it encompasses their hopes and dreams. If they think you have a high opinion of them, it’s amazing what they will do to maintain this opinion. And the more they respect you they harder they will work to hang on to your regard.

Mark Twain once said, ‘Great people make you feel you too can become great.’ Make your people feel they can become great-or at least very good-and you might not be a great person but you’ll certainly get great results. People who rise to the challenge will love it. People don’t will disappear. And both of those are good things.” — Barry Maher, speaker and consultant

8. Listen to Your Team

“Retaining talent is fairly simple. Treat your team as human beings, listen to their needs, offer flexibility in their schedules (as able), and reward them for their hard work.

It is the team which helps to build the company and not the customers. In my business, I find listening to my team goes a long way and understanding their position in the face of customer complaints. I am flexible in their hours, and since we are a small team, we work well together to ensure the business’s needs are met and foster a family-first culture. When team members go above and beyond, I will offer a cash bonus, take the team to an event like go-karts or top golf, and genuinely appreciate them. I would not be able to have the success of the business without this team.” — Celeste Interrante, CEO and founder, Turf Envy LLC

9. Offer Great Benefits

“One way to meet your employees where they are is to offer a competitive compensation and benefits package.

This doesn’t necessarily mean giving the highest salaries but making sure your people are fairly compensated for their work. In addition to base salary, consider offering other benefits like bonuses, stock options, or even profit sharing.” — Ty Wilson, co-founder, CustomMade

10. Treat Your Team With Respect

“The best way to retain talent is to treat them as valued humans. This means paying them enough and allowing them to take time when they need it.

Treat them like adults who can get their work done without constant micromanagement.” — Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO, Lawn Love  

11. Culture First

“Business owners will see the most success with employee retention by focusing on culture and giving employees flexibility.

People want to enjoy where they work instead of feeling stifled by it. Everyone has bills to pay and doesn’t want to be dragged down by stuffy or rigid corporate values and practices to make a living. We extend candid realism to our team and respect their needs as they do ours. The workplace is evolving, especially for employees. Fighting this flow will only hurt businesses’ retention efforts.” — Justin Soleimani, co-founder, Tumble

12. Employee Recognition

“One way we’re retaining talent is by making sure each and every employee is recognized in the company. We believe recognition is one of the easiest and most effective retention strategies. Too often employees feel as if they aren’t being seen.

This strategy is particularly important for remote and hybrid employees who don’t get the same face time with managers as their in-person colleagues do. Recognition can be something as simple as a leader acknowledging an employee’s great work on a project. Or it can be bigger, like a company-wide recognition of the employee of the month.” — Logan Mallory, VP, Motivosity

13. Making the Workplace Fun!

“We’re retaining talent by focusing on making our workplace a fun place to work.

Our company works mostly in-person, so it was important for us to make the workplace somewhere fun and positive for our employees. This also helped to make the transition back into full-time in-person work easier. We put an emphasis on helping employees get to know each other better by hosting activities where people can switch off of work mode and spend time together as friends rather than coworkers. This translates back into the workplace because now coworkers are closer together and have some shared experiences to chat about.” — Michael Nemeroff, CEO and co-founder, RushOrderTees

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