Small Business Management: Retaining Employees

Barry Eichner

Shutterstock/Konstantin Chagin

Unlike large corporations, the employees in a small business can have a dramatic impact on the business’s overall success.  Often, employees perform multi-faceted roles that are linked directly to revenue generation or vital operational functionality.   Veteran employees keep revenues positive and reduce operational friction. 

How do you keep your employees happy so they stay with you long-term? 

A competitive salary and benefit package are solid starting points to ensure long-term employee retention.  But what employees are really looking for in service-based, small businesses where the majority of the employee population is either certified and/or licensed in a particular field, is a career where they can grow and advance with continuing education and training.  By investing in employee education and training, businesses demonstrate they are interested in a partnership of mutual growth. 

With a more expanded skill set, employees can add to the business in a variety of ways.  Business owners can tap employees to write online blog content about specialized services they’re able to offer.   After continuing education classes, newly certified employees can help create new services for the business to offer and help train other staff members.   The business can leverage the expense of the education and training by communicating to customers about the opportunities the staff was provided.  This will create a stronger level of confidence in the business and the brand. 

By providing education and training, small business owners are re-assuring employees they have the opportunity for career growth. 

  • Map out growth opportunities. 
  • Outline the plan with benchmarks they’ll need to meet in order to grow.  Communicate this to the employees from day one.  
  • Start the dialogue in the employee handbook. 
  • Add language to every employee position description that maps out steps for advancing into different positions. 
  • Make ongoing coaching part of the everyday employee communication style and encourage everyone to do the same. 
  • Invest the time in writing and communicating personalized performance reviews and growth action plans so everyone on the staff will have a clear understanding of their overall assets and growth potential. 

Finally, there are two intangible concepts that can have a greater impact on employee retention than anything, even compensation. 

Appreciation & Team Environment
Show the employees they’re part of a team.  In fact, pay close attention to the language that is used. 

  • Use terms such as “team,” over “employees” or “staff.” 
  • Focus on asking more than telling when taking to the team. 
  • Listen to their needs; show the team you care about them both as a person and as member of the team. 
  • Create systems in your business that foster a team environment where every team member understands that their contribution is valued and appreciated.
  • Create an open door communication policy that establishes an official channel to encourage dialogue that can help the free exchange of ideas.  
  • Offer a team-based bonus to encourage group cohesion. 
  • Create programs that help to bring the team together for mutual fun.  Team Appreciation Days are a wonderful opportunity to give your team perks such as:  free lunch, extra employee discounts, raffles, prizes for top performers, and recognition to team unsung heroes. 

Well compensated, trained team members who feel valued and appreciated for their contributions will be part of your team for years to come keeping your business growing and your customers happy. 

About the Author

Barry Eichner

Barry Eichner, founder of Barry Eichner Consulting, specializes in articulating a spa's online presence through web site development, search engine optimization, blogging, e-mail marketing and social media. He has over 20 years of experience in marketing strategy, implementation, and consulting of beauty based businesses. Find out more about Barry by visiting

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