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How to improve employee loyalty

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SmallBusiness.com How-tos are step-by-step instructions for specific small business tasks. They are created and edited by readers like you. You can help edit this How-to or you can create your own. Find more How-tos at the SmallBusiness.com How-to Hub.

Overview

Most small businesses operate as a team -- and if you're like most small business owners, you shudder at the thought of losing your key players. Whether it's a top salesperson reeling in big cash or an accountant who keeps your books in the black, your top employees are your most valuable asset. And in their heads, they carry with them your most important intellectual property -- their experience. You should do all you can to encourage their loyalty.

If you want to keep your star from being wooed by the competition, your rewards have to go beyond pay raises. Most employers use salary adjustments, bonuses and retirement packages to reward employees, but those are expensive and ineffective ways to create loyalty. Your retention methods have to go beyond money -- it comes down to how employees are treated.

Tips for improving loyalty

Be considerate of work-life issues: Reciprocate the demands you put on employees. If they're working long hours, cut them some slack when they have a doctor's appointment or need to pick up their kids from school. If you're considerate of work-life issues, no amount of money will tempt your talent to walk away.

Communicate openly: Open, two-way communication is key. Every three months, meet with each employee and ask how they're being treated, if they have the training they need and if they feel they’re doing meaningful work. Then start addressing their needs,. If your staff members feel involved in the company, they'll be more satisfied with their work.

Respect what makes your employee unique: Don't expect an introvert to be happy as a telemarketer, or force a parent to travel all the time. If top employees' lifestyles change, adapt to their needs -- but don't make assumptions about what they want.

Help your employees become their best: Training and education are high priorities for most people. If you help your star hone her skills, she won't be tempted to look for a job with an employer who will. Offer in-house training programs and make sure your managers spend time working one-on-one with people in their department to help all employees improve their skills.

Link responsibilities with clear goals and objectives: Develop a clear mission that distinguishes your organization from your competitors. Communicate that mission thoroughly so each employee understands it. Is your organization involved in projects that coincide with your employees' values? If you link your goals with your employees' goals, they’ll feel good about their jobs on a deeper level -- all of a sudden work is more than just a way to pay their bills.

Respect recognition and achievement: An employee who feels respected, gets recognition for their work and has a real sense of achievement is going to be a loyal employee. Create an atmosphere where key employees are the 'go-to' people for their area. Recognize them for their work and highlight their accomplishments to others. Feeling respected by ownership or management will go a long way toward keeping your employees loyal.

See also

External links