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What employees really want

01 Jul 06

In a tight job market staff retention is crucial to the success of your business. Most employees don’t jump ship purely for financial reasons; it’s often a combination of work environment, career opportunities, job satisfaction and of course better pay.

Think of the intellectual property that walks out the door with a valued employee at the end of the day, not to mention the customer satisfaction they may provide or sales revenue for your business.

So what, as an employer, are you doing to keep your staff?

* does your business allow employees to express ideas in a comfortable environment?

* are your employees allowed to fully use all their skills and initiative?

* do you provide opportunities for staff to upskill?

* do you conduct regular performance appraisals or make sure you give staff feedback

If you’re a small business then finding the right people to work for you is even more important. Yet retaining good employees can be an ongoing battle if you have a limited budget and are competing against larger players. While you may not be able to offer a huge salary but your strengths as a small business is your ability to offer flexibility and a sense of community.

As an owner you may be reluctant to offer share options but you can always look at other ways to keep staff happy. If a valued employee wants to take a leave of absence give them the opportunity to return to work for you. Equally, many small businesses offer a suggestion scheme to reward employees who contribute new ideas. Training is another useful means of persuading staff to stay. If you pay for their training ensure they don’t leave immediately by including a clause in their contract.

A study conducted by Dr David Finegold, University of Southern California, looked at employee retention in high-tech companies.

In surveys employees rated work/life balance, job security, financial rewards, career satisfaction and a degree of influence over their work as the most important reasons for staying with a company.

Yet Finegold found that employee responses are generally unreliable when it comes to sensitive issues or questions where certain answers are more socially acceptable.

For example pay didn’t score highly as a way of retaining employees – except for men under 30 – and having a well-communicated strategy for success, while important for helping employees identify with the company, didn’t make them stay.

Finegold found the top three factors were career advancement, financial rewards based on company performance and, most interestingly, innovation and risk.

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