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Hey everybody, this is Gene Marks and welcome back to this week’s weekly, Small Biz Ahead podcast where I offer some advice and tips to help you run your business. This week let’s talk about retaining employees. You know the drill, we’ve heard this story before, but it’s so true and worth repeating again, that when you run a small business like mine, if you got 10 employees, five employees, even 20 employees, losing just one employee is a big deal. It could be 10% of your workforce in my case. So, I mean, we all know that finding employees have been a major challenge for small businesses in this tight labor market. But, there are places to go to find employees. That’s a whole other topic of conversation and actually another podcast that I did.
But just as importantly and in my opinion, even more important honestly, is the challenge of retaining our workers. I mean, it’s not uncommon for small business clients of mine to complain of the difficulties competing against larger companies and even the government when it comes to compensation and benefits. I gotta tell you something, working for a small business has its own unique challenges and you have gotta position yourself to make sure that prospective employees and your current employees know what those challenges are. And many of my clients and business owners that I know, they figured out how to leverage those advantages to keep their employees happy and loyal. So, let me give you like an example, like for example like one big advantage of working at a small business is the trust and the autonomy that an employee can enjoy, right?
I mean, if you work for a big company, it means you gotta abide by the rules and process and regulations, but the procedures at smaller companies can be much less onerous and can allow employees, even younger employees, the chance to be independent and take responsibility quicker. I have one client that I know she’s in Philadelphia, she’s a design studio, she focuses it, which focuses like on accessories for toddlers and children and all of that. She basically empowers her employees to do a lot and she really has to, I mean, she’s busy, but she relies on her younger workers to help her manage her business. She’s a small business owner. So, she gives her employees the ability to sew and create and put on their teacher hats when needed and directly help customers who walk in on a, for any kind of a call.
And she tells me she wants to give her employees skin in the game and make them feel ownership. And as a result, she’s created a small but fiercely loyal team of young designers. Big companies can’t do it to the level that small businesses can. And how about flexibility? Flexibility is critical – adjustable schedules, working from home, these have become essential benefits in 2022 and smaller businesses can be more accommodating in how they offer these benefits. Like you, you can do this and you can do it much better than a larger companies who has more rigid policies. So you can consider things like flexible work schedules, working from home, expanded paid time off plans, even four day work weeks as well. When we’re talking about retaining employees, it’s also important to note that you still gotta pay them at a decent level.
You can’t expect that offering a flexible schedule, more autonomy is gonna make-up for lack of compensation. You gotta be in the ballpark, so the best way to make sure of this, you gotta compare the wages you’re offering with like national data, go to sites like Glassdoor, Payscale, LinkedIn. You really want to consider offering at least basic benefits for healthcare and retirement. Just to keep yourself in the game. You don’t wanna lose an employee because you’re not offering those kinds of basic benefits that people expect. I have some clients that pay as much as 65% of their employees’ health insurance premiums which in some industries is unheard of but the clients that pay that much, they tend to retain their employees even more. You know?
Another thing about retaining employees is that I know you’re all about growing but there is a limit and too much growth can put a lot of stress on your employees. One small business owner that I know runs a catering company. She knows the catering business can be very competitive and turning away work can be hard, but in deference to her staff, she tries her best not to overdo it. And she’s told me that she’s used to taking on, you know, she doesn’t wanna take on too much work because she’s done it before. And then she has the clamor for people at the last minute and put more stress on her existing employees and she doesn’t wanna do that. So she’s learning to live better within her capacity. So, paying people fairly, trying to keep people without going crazy by accepting all of your jobs, offer flexibility and giving people more autonomy in the work that they do. These are the kinds of things small businesses can do. But there’s one final thing that I will tell you that you should be doing to retain your employees and that’s to provide a relaxed and a fun place to work.
I mean, bring in lunch, do a holiday picnic, offer half-day Fridays, have an open door policy, provide an environment where employees can feel comfortable just being themselves. That catering client that I talked to you about before she says to me, some caterers require their employees to be rigid and formal and restrained while they’re on the job. But she actually likes it of her employees join in the fun at events and even do some dancing with their guests and feels comfortable with themselves. I mean, there’s a limit, but you want people to have fun at their jobs. So listen, this is all important stuff to remember when you’re trying to retain your employees. Make sure that it’s a fun atmosphere, pay them fairly all for those kinds of flexible benefits as well and give them more empowerment to do their jobs. These are the things, my smartest clients and a lot of the business owners I talked to around the country are doing to keep their good people on staff. It’s a tough labor market. You don’t wanna lose somebody because it can really have an impact on your operations. So that’s…
My advice for this week guys and I hope it helps again. My name is Gene Marks. You’ve been listening to my weekly, Small Biz Ahead podcast. If you want more tips or advice or information to help you run your business, visit us at SmallBizAhead.com or SBA.TheHartford.com. Thanks for listening. I will be back to you next week with some more thoughts on another matter, take care.
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