Starting a Business: Keeping Your Employees

Business people asking questions

You've found an ambitious, hard-working group of employees to help make your business a success. Now your challenge is to create a motivational, exciting, and productive workplace. As an employer, it's important to stay aware of your employees' feelings about their jobs, as well as provide incentives to establish a creative environment in your office.

Employee Feedback

Even if you have managers to oversee the day-to-day work of your employees, there are several ways to get employee feedback directly as well. It's an important way to hold on to an informal environment as your work force expands.

Keep communication lines open. Your employees should feel comfortable coming to you to discuss work issues. To maintain that openness as your business grows, try to arrange for regularly scheduled meetings with each employee. If you think some of them may be uncomfortable in a one-on-one meeting, try small groups.

Have staff meetings or lunches. Every two weeks or so, get together with your employees to review what's happening in the business. You can include any important updates and generate discussion about new products or ideas. These meetings are also the time to let your employees offer their feedback and creative thoughts.

Your Feedback

It's very important to let your employees know when they're doing a good job, or when you feel that their work needs improvement.

Schedule salary reviews and make promotions at regular intervals. By promoting employees, you are showing that you reward hard work. When you do a salary review, it's the perfect time to go over any strengths and weaknesses an employee may have. And it's also a time to give long-term employees new responsibilities.

Maintaining a constant dialogue between employee and employer is key to retention. Maintaining a constant dialogue between employee and employer is key to retention.

Give criticism behind closed doors. A working environment should be positive, so while public praise is often a good idea, criticism should remain a private matter.

Developmental Incentives

If you are employing a large number of working parents, providing subsidized daycare may be a wise choice. There may be other small business owners nearby who would collaborate on providing these services.

You can arrange for on-the-job training when an employee joins your company. Or you can offer training or workshops every six months to a year. Many employers choose to have their employees take online workshops or courses in your business or industry.

Financial Incentives

Even if you already have retirement and health plans in place, or match your employees' contributions to their retirement plans, there are additional ways that you can provide employee incentives. You can offer a profit sharing plan. Basically, that means that you pay a certain percentage of your company's profits to your employees. If your profits are less than you anticipate in any year, or if you need the money to expand, you can always skip a year.

Many companies offer stock options or stock appreciation rights to their employees. If the company goes public or is sold, the employees share your financial success. You'll need professional help to set up a plan such as this, but you may find it's a great loyalty builder.

Finally, you can create an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). With an ESOP, you create a trust fund for existing shares of stock and establish individual ESOP accounts for your employees who choose to participate in the plan. You contribute shares to those accounts based on a formula you set up. You can use an ESOP to give your employees bonuses and incentives or as part of a 401(k) or other retirement plan.

More Options

As employment rates steadily increase, there's increased competition among businesses to find and keep employees. Added incentives are often a good idea if you want to keep your essential employees.

Many companies have created mentor structures, to help younger employees learn the ropes and get advice from their older, more experienced colleagues. You can implement this type of structure by matching up two people in the same division of your company, one with many years of experience and perhaps someone you've just hired. It's smart to encourage these mentor groups to meet often.

Although it may be costly, it's important to keep the technology in your office state-of-the art so employees can be as productive as possible.

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