When a business has a good team of employees the sky is the limit.  The converse is equally valid.

As an employer, I always look for the best people for our team.  I believe when having good people around me, I can’t help but be my best as well.

Keeping good staff is something a business cannot take for granted, it needs work and constant reviewing to ensure those staff are satisfied and happy.  Even millennials will stay longer if they feel their contribution is appreciated and has tangible results.

There was a time when staff could be relied upon to stay with an employer, was it the gold watch when retiring, the mindset of most people, the sense of security?  Whatever the motivation, it wasn’t unusual for someone to stay for decades within the one business.

Times have changed but the long-term employee is not a dinosaur, contrary to popular belief.  A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research in the USA says “Long-term relationships with a single employer are an important feature of the U.S. labor market in 2002, much as they were in 1969,”.  In 1969, the average tenure for men in the job they held for the longest period during their careers was 21.9 years and in 2002, the comparable figure was 21.4 years.  Just more than half of men ending their careers in 1969 had been with a single employer for at least 20 years; the same was true in 2002.

With the aim of retaining your good staff for the long haul, what should a business do?

good-staffSaying “thank you” for a task done well, a sale, an innovative idea or helping a co-worker, in fact, anything positive should be at the top of the list.  All too often people are quick to admonish but not so quick to applaud, it should be the other way around.  This is also like a performance review on the go, not just some unrealistic meeting every six or twelve months.

First however, hire the right people.  Don’t just go with a resume and references, take the time to talk with your short list of applicants, even outside of the office environment, go for a walk and talk, go and get a coffee, see how they respond.  It can be enlightening.  Just talking about everyday subjects can reveal things you would never get in a standard, stodgy interview.  Don’t rush into it, it is an important decision.  Trust your instincts.

Communication can make or break the employment relationship.  It is absolutely vital, particularly in a small business that the whole team sings the same hymn, has the same mantra, knows the company vision and goals.  Even if the situation is looking grim don’t hide it, someone will notice and then the trust level is damaged.  Talking about problems with those who are involved in the business may just uncover some good ideas, a practical strategy and that employee will feel they have really contributed, they will take ownership.

A company culture which is inclusive isn’t all about work and knows laughter and fun are good for the soul will make the employees feel good about coming to work.  When people feel good about being at work, your clients will notice it as well.  If being at work is a drudge, your clients will bear the brunt of it and then goodbye client.  Even simple things like tea, coffee and biscuits with a microwave, kettle, fridge in a light, airy space can make a big difference.

Flexibility.  Don’t be rigid about nine-to-five, we are all different.  If someone arrives at 10:00am but then doesn’t leave until after 6:00pm has still worked the required hours.  Of course, in some situations hours worked need to cater for customer service but be creative.  These days people can work from home effectively and maybe your best employee does their best work in that environment.

Treat your team as real human beings, treat them the way you would like to be treated.