Culture First – 7 Secrets for Employee Retention

It’s happened to every small business owner. You hire someone, and by the time the paperwork is barely finished, they’ve left for something else. What went wrong? Most likely it’s a case of culture shock.

Here are seven things you can do to prevent it in the future:

1. Know What You Stand For

A wishy-washy leader leads to a confused workforce. So think about what your business wants from its employees and workplace and be clear when articulating it. If it’s dedication to family first, then work, develop policies that reflect this. Once you know what you want, don’t waffle. Your employees will stick around in an environment that’s familiar.

2. Don’t Try to be Something You’re Not

Faking it until you make it sounds great in theory. But if you’re the leading distributor of high-end light fixtures, there’s no way you can also be the low-price leader. Stay true to your mission and you’ll find that employees who get on board with it stay on board.

3. Be The Emotional Leader

A boss with a bad attitude can discourage any attempt to build a positive working environment. While you may hold the most stressful position, setting a positive tone can help lighten the burden. Employees want to follow and emulate their leader. Don’t squander the opportunity by failing to lead with a positive attitude.

4. Keep a High Profile

Make a point of being seen in the workplace. A culture that retains employees is one that knows there’s someone with a name and a face in charge. Distribute your time equally among groups, even if your interests are aligned with only a few. The last thing you want is to appear you’re playing favorites. Besides, engaging employees that are different from you can lead to new perspectives.

5. Keep Your Party Hat On Hand

One of the most important hats you can wear as a small business owner is a party hat you can don when morale needs a boost. Try mini-golfing or bowling together, or hold a barbecue offsite. You don’t need a special day for this. In fact, a celebration when it’s least expected can be the most effective of all.

6. Be Honest

Don’t embellish or misrepresent the workplace or opportunities when interviewing prospective employees. Be up front. If the work is physically or emotionally demanding it’s better they hear it early and from the source. They may not like what they hear, but if they do take the job, you’ll know it’s because they understand what’s expected.

7. Listen to Your Employees

You’ve probably heard the saying, “we have two ears and one mouth for a reason.” Spend as much time listening to your employees as you do talking to them. If you’re not always accessible, put practices in place that let employees bend your ear. Perhaps it’s a suggestion box or an open door policy one day a week. The key is to give everyone a way to be heard.

Great business cultures require continuous work and ongoing involvement by owners and employees. While the task can be rigorous, the results are well worth the effort.

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