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Dec 31

Keeping Your Talent

Posted by: Steve Marr

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Recruiting and hiring good employees is an ongoing challenge for every business, whether large or small. Keeping your best employees can be even more difficult in today's competitive marketplace. Although some turnover is inevitable, you can create a business environment that will build employee loyalty and make your best employees want to stay, by following these five basic rules:


1) Value your employees.

2) Recognize a job well done.

3) Create responsibilities that are challenging and fun.

4) Ask for feedback, then listen and respond.

5) Be flexible.

Value your employees. No matter what business you're in, your staff is your greatest asset. Make them feel important and valued. Feeling unappreciated is the number one reason why employees begin looking for other jobs. The time to make your employees feel valued is before they receive other offers. An employee who feels appreciated is less likely to look and less likely to leave. How do you relate to your employees? Do you communicate respect, trust, appreciation, and a positive attitude? Jesus modeled care and concern for every individual. Your business is the perfect place to follow Christ's example.

Review your salary and benefits package. Like it or not, your employees determine their value to the company in part by how well you pay. If your direct competitors or other local businesses pay significantly higher wages, your retention efforts will inevitably fail.

Recognize a job well done. Be liberal with your praise when your employees work hard, serve your customers well, and go the extra mile. Determine each employee's strongest assets and contributions to the success of your business and make a habit of honestly complimenting them once or twice a day. In Luke 17, Jesus healed ten lepers, but the one we remember (and the one who Christ commended) is the man who came back to say "thank you." Your employees won't soon forget your heartfelt expressions of gratitude for a job well done.

Reward consistent excellence by being generous with raises. In the long run, it costs a lot less to reward excellent performance and retain your current staff than to be continually recruiting, hiring, and training new employees.

Create responsibilities that are challenging and fun. Look for one or two ways to increase each employee's authority, responsibility, and participation. A woman's clothing store manager invited her sales clerks to offer input on new merchandise. The clerks loved being asked to participate and they assumed greater ownership and responsibility for selling the new products.

Try switching job duties between co-workers. They will enjoy learning new things, and the company will benefit from the cross training. In 1 Corinthians 12:4 (NASB), the apostle Paul says that "there are varieties of gifts." If you're wise, you will recognize and develop these gifts within your staff.

Ask for feedback, then listen and respond. Jesus said, "If any man has ears to hear, let him hear" (Mark 7:16, NASB). Your employees are working on the front lines of your business. Listen to what they're saying, and don't just pretend to listen. Nothing will damage your credibility more than turning a deaf ear. Ask for ideas to improve the business and then follow-through with the best suggestions. In one automotive dealership, the service staff noticed that the seats in the customer waiting area were uncomfortable. They made a suggestion to their manager, the chairs were replaced, and customer satisfaction improved. Employee satisfaction also improved, because management had listened#and acted. Not every employee suggestion will be feasible or affordable, but if you create an environment where your employees know that they are heard and respected, it will pay dividends in performance and loyalty.

Be flexible. Balance the needs of your employees with the needs of the business, and be flexible enough to meet your staff's needs whenever possible. Small accommodations often pay off in tremendous goodwill and employee loyalty. Allowing employees to adjust their work schedules to facilitate picking up and dropping off children at school, for example, may actually be more important than a raise.

The apostle Paul writes, "Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others" (Philippians 2:4, NASB). A window washing company decided to allow its employees to select their desired work schedules one month in advance. Some chose to work longer days in order to gain a longer weekend. Others worked fewer hours each day, and in some cases added a Saturday shift to make up the necessary hours, in order to be home each afternoon in time to meet their kids returning from school. Balancing the needs of the business with the personal needs of the staff ultimately led to greater employee satisfaction and a significant reduction in turnover.

One final caveat: When employees do choose to leave, don't make flippant remarks, such as, "They'll be easy to replace," or "They weren't worth that much anyway." Derisive comments send a message to the remaining staff that you don't really value your employees. Instead, use times of turnover as opportunities to reinforce your appreciation of your employees, and ask them for referrals to help you find a valuable replacement. Follow the five rules of staff retention daily, and you will keep your employees happy, your customers satisfied, and your business rolling.

Steve Marr, Your Christian Business Coach

As published nationally in syndicated newspaper column

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