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How To Stop Losing Your Talented Employees

“We’re hiring” sign with employees in the background. Image Credit: Gerd Altmann

We’re hearing more often from small businesses and start-ups that they’re having trouble keeping employees. They assume it’s because of a good economy. It’s difficult to tell them that probably isn’t the real reason someone is leaving. While there are many reasons someone will choose to quit a job, most of the time people quit because they’re unhappy. And, chances are, the root cause of the unhappiness is directly attributable to the company’s managers.

Employee turnover costs a business money, both in time and cash. You’ll need to spend time and money to recruit a replacement. You’ll lose productivity while the position remains open. And you’ll need to invest time or money in at least some level of training for the new hire. If you don’t, you’re just going to end up in the same place again.

Once you’ve found the right person for the job, you need to make sure they continue to be happy in the role. Talent management is your responsibility as a manager. Keeping employees happy isn’t about free snacks in the break room or foosball tables. It’s about genuinely showing how much you value them. Simply telling your employees that you value them is not enough. You need to back it up. If you’re wondering how to do that, start with the opposite. Make sure you’re not communicating that you don’t value them. Watch out for the situations below. If you address these issues, your turnover rate will likely drop substantially.

1. You act like you don't trust them

While you may think you trust your employees, your actions might be communicating otherwise. For example, let’s say that first thing every morning you stop by an employee’s desk to say good morning. Your intentions may be good, but your employee likely believes you’re checking to make sure they got to work on time. Maybe you do the opposite. You rarely stop by people’s desks. Instead you communicate almost everything through email. You think you’re being efficient and courteous by not bothering people. However, your employee likely thinks that you just want all conversations documented so you have a “paper trail” in case something goes wrong. Or maybe you’re the dreaded micromanager. Many managers don’t even realize they do it, but it’s one of the worst things you can do if you want your employees to feel like you trust them.

2. You don’t help them develop professionally

Your job as a manager is to develop talent, not just delegate work. Managing your talent for the future does not have to be difficult. It just takes a commitment. One way to start is simply to ask people what they would like to be doing for your business a couple of years from now, and what skills do they feel they need to improve for that to happen. Then find ways to help them. Give them tasks or projects that actually use those skills. Help them find training materials. There are tons of free training tools on the internet. It also doesn’t hurt to actually spend some money on training for your employees now and then. All of this sends the message that you want them to stick around and that you’re willing to help them prepare for future roles.

3. You pay them poorly

Compensation will not be the only reason someone decides to quit, but it is very important. Money is how we communicate value in our economy. If people feel like they’re underpaid versus their peers, it sends the message that you don’t value them appropriately. If you are doing everything else well, chances are your people will probably be content around the average salary for your market. If your employees believe you don’t trust them or they don’t see a future for themselves in the company, you’re going to need to pay well above average salaries in order to keep people.

Managing talent is not easy. But if you’re going to grow your small business or start-up, you need the talent to do it. Talent management is an area of the business that you need to invest in. Do your homework and make sure you are sending your team the right message. If you’re lucky, they’ll take the time to tell you you’re doing it wrong. Unfortunately, most of the time they’ll just give up and walk away.

Good luck out there!

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