September 29, 2017

Retaining Talent

Small and large businesses alike are feeling the strain of finding and retaining talent. The competition is fierce and with the unemployment rate at 3.1 % in Davidson County (, companies are having to do more. It doesn’t always come down to money, although no one would turn down a gift card, or even bonus now and then.

I have mostly worked for small businesses since officially entering the workforce my sophomore year of high school. I have been very fortunate to have worked for mostly amazing people and companies/organizations. My husband, Scott, and I spent some time talking about what he learned from managing anywhere from 5-400 employees over the years in various roles and he helped me see that it isn’t really the size of the company that matters.

Mission and Vision

Have a strong vision and mission for your company. If you don’t know what you stand for, how will your employees? Put some time into creating a true message that reflects the core of your business. Ask your customers what they think and feel about your company. Let existing employees have input as well and most importantly, use it. A good vision or mission statement is one that is revisited and talked about often.

Celebrate the Wins

Every day in every company across the U.S. there is some sort of win within those companies. A new customer, a new account, clean bathrooms (seriously, this one is important), a good review, retaining an old client; whatever your win celebrate it and the person or team responsible. It’s amazing how far even a little recognition goes. Do a shout-out on your social media, include it in your newsletter, announce it at the weekly team meeting. It doesn’t have to be big. Everyone always say it’s the little things and it really is. It will truly make your employee’s day and they will not forget it. As Maya Angelou said, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Work Through the Issues

Look, we all make mistakes and no one of us can do everything needed to run a company. Even if you are a sole-ownership company, you have outsourced help to make your business run. When someone makes a mistake, don’t panic and whatever you do don’t overreact! The best employees are the ones that are trained and nurtured through their mistakes. You don’t throw your family members out for not picking up after themselves for the 1000th time, you communicate through it, work through it, and continue being family. Take this practice into your business and I promise it will come back to you exponentially. Does it always work out? No, but the ones that do more than make up for the ones that don’t.

Take a Break

Recognize when your team members need a break. We are plugged in 24/7 and I know few businesses that only run a set number of hours. Even when closed, someone can be reached. It’s the new business model and we are forced to figure out a good work-family-life balance. Flex work times, work from home options, meditation rooms, and even just closing the office early on a Friday every now and then helps your people feel appreciated and gives them permission to step away every now and then. It shouldn’t always come down to paid time off and sick leave. You work better after a break, and so will your team.

Be Kind and Smile

You think I’m joking, but I’m not! You have a lot of weight on your shoulders as the company leader and I know it’s hard work, but don’t forget to smile and show your team that it’s still fun and you do love it. This is your passion, right? Show that off and I guarantee your employees will pick up on it and feel happier as well. Smiling and kindness go a long way… not just with customers, but with those amazing team members as well. You get what you give and to me, this is the most important tip of them all!

I am always interested in hearing what works for companies so that I can pass it along to the businesses with which I work. What are some of your tried and true tips for retaining talent?

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