Employee turnover is a common problem among small businesses. You're not just losing their immediate benefit – you're losing all the time and money you expected to get out of them, as well as the expenditure related to finding replacements. What makes this tragic is that many of these losses are avoidable. While some employees leave because they're genuinely suited elsewhere, just as many leave because of mistakes you and your managers commit. If you want to keep costs and turnover rates low, you may have to make a few changes.

1. Never Ignore Employee Needs

It's easy to get caught in the trap of thinking your employees are there to serve the small business. They're there to work, but that doesn't mean that they only derive satisfaction from helping your company. Your workers have needs of their own. And no company better understands this than Amazon, who offer employees money to leave their role each year in their “Pay to Quit” programme. This encourages people to take a moment and think about what they really want, and ensures that those who work there really want to be there.

Many employees will leave if they don't feel cared for. You don't need to be best friends with them, but you do have to treat them like people. Celebrate when they succeed, and pick up their spirits when a big deal falls apart.


2. No Overworking

Small businesses are nests of stress. The company's future is almost always at risk, and your employees are going to feel that. If you're lucky, or hire the right people, they won't be bothered by it because they know what they signed up for. Unfortunately, they'll feel it when you start asking them for overtime or set long work hours.

There may be no avoiding those long hours, but you must increase their compensation accordingly. They joined your company expecting a certain ratio of work to compensation. Most people are willing to put in the work if the rewards match the change. If you don't have the capital for that, there are other ways to reward their work, from additional benefits to an increase in position. Even promising future gain is better than nothing.

3. Get Involved in the Rest of Their Lives

Your employees are there for more than your small business. Many of them will have passions beyond their current task, passions that may result in less time spent at the office. This is a loss you need to take. Forcing other passions out of the picture isn't the answer, as that will just frustrate employees.

The correct answer is to give them opportunities to pursue their interests. How you do that depends on the resources you have and what your employees love. More often than not, training and educational opportunities will work fine.


4. Reward the Right People

Promotions are seen as rewards. You do well, you get a promotion. The advancement represents not just additional income and an exciting new title; it represents recognition of their deeds and service. When you reward the wrong people, you're sending a strong signal that you're not paying attention to who's doing what – or worse, that you treasure the wrong thing in your business. It's a huge hit to morale and can often serve as the straw that breaks the camel's back.


5. Training

It's easy to feel incompetent when you don't know what you're doing. If you don't train your employees properly, that's exactly what you're making them feel. Think of their skillset as the bare minimum for joining your company. Once they join you, you'll have to give them training that will help them use those skills in the context of the company and the job they've taken.

It doesn't end at acclimating to the small business. Continue training and developing your employees' skills to prepare them for future advancement and greater tasks. Every moment spent training them is time invested in the company's future in the form of a strong and devoted core team.