Employee Retention Challenges and Solutions

Does your small business struggle to hire or retain excellent employees? Here are nine suggestions for keeping top talent.

 

As a small business you should be aware of exactly how you are actively supporting your employees’ overall success. The pandemic has shown us that employees are looking for new and better opportunities all the time and that small businesses are struggling to hire and retain employees. Whether it be to thrive in their current role at your organization or to prepare them for their next career advancement, it is your responsibility to make sure your employees grow and thrive in their jobs. Ensuring your team is equipped with the latest knowledge and skills in their field will definitely contribute to your business’s long-term success. Constant employee turnover is costly and time consuming, therefore investing both mentally and financially into your employee’s growth will help with retention issues. Employees know when they’re being supported, and when they’re not.

Here are some suggestions you can take to increase your employee retention:

Retention Suggestion No. 1: Open lines of communication. Goals change as we grow. Talk with your employees about their career goals. If possible, create a development plan to help them grow into management, if that is a goal, or other ways in which you can help foster their goals.

Retention Suggestion No. 2: Enhance communication between all levels within your company. By removing the level barriers, you may find that sharing ideas will help your employees and help your company to grow.

RELATED: Why employee motivation matters more in a small business.

Retention Suggestion No. 3: Create an open-door policy. Let your employees know that they can come to you when they have an issue. Creating trust will help with productivity and performance.

Retention Suggestion No. 4: Create a mentorship program. A lower-level employee can grow into a great manager. Mentoring can help your company’s culture while also providing a way for management and senior employees to get to know junior employees.

Retention Suggestion No. 5: Invest in employee training. If you have a training program in place for new hires, it helps to avoid any disconnect between current employees and new hires. This can be done virtually or in-person as things begin to open up. And don’t forget on-going training for all employees to increase their skill set, as well as training for diversity & inclusion initiatives, HR and workplace protocols and team-building skills.

Retention Suggestion No. 6: Invest in professional memberships for your employees. This will provide employees with a means to develop relationships and new skills and come back with new ideas and innovations.

Retention Suggestion No. 7: Do performance reviews. Even if you have only a couple of employees, performance reviews are a way to let employees know how they’re doing, and what they can be doing differently in order to reach their goals. Be candid, but also constructive. Do annual reviews, but also think about doing quarterly reviews.

RELATED: Read more by Tim Dimoff.

Retention Suggestion No. 8: Recognize your employees. Find ways to recognize the accomplishments your employees make throughout the year to encourage them to keep up the good work.

Retention Suggestion No. 9: Expand their horizons within the company. Offer employees opportunities to delve into other departments—including shadowing a co-worker for the day. This gives them an idea of what others are working on and helps them see how everyone works together to achieve overall company goals.

By investing in these simple ideas, you are also investing in your company’s growth.

 

Timothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues. He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University. Contact him at mailto:info@sacsconsulting.com.

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  • Next up: Electronic Communications: Employer VS. Employee Privacy Rights
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  • Electronic Communications: Employer VS. Employee Privacy Rights

    To what extent can employers monitor their employees when it comes to electronic communication? It can be confusing but it's important you know your rights.

     

    As a small business owner, it is important that you are knowledgeable about employee rights, even if you only have a few employees. Workplace privacy rights extend to all employees no matter the size of the business. 

    In simple terms, employee privacy rights are basically the rules that limit how extensively an employer can search an employee’s possessions or person; how much they can monitor employees’ actions, speech, or correspondence; and how much an employer can know about their personal lives. By its very nature, social media has increased privacy concerns and potential issues as people post, tweet or otherwise put personal information out into the electronic universe. So as a small business owner it can be confusing regarding what you can and cannot do regarding employee privacy rights. I will provide some general information and guidance, but when in doubt, always check with your attorney. 

    Electronic communication and social media are huge areas of concern when it comes to employee vs. employer rights. As a general rule, employers have the right to search through anything that appears on company computers, social media and the internet. So basically, as an employer you can review e-mails sent and received through your own server, but you cannot access an employee's personal e-mail account through a password that's stored on a work-issued device. It is important to have a policy that explains to employees how you monitor email and computers and that there is no expectation of privacy when using your computers or property.

    RELATED: Do you have these items in your employee handbook?

    The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) provides the following guidance:
    Company policies should not bar activity protected by federal labor law, like the discussion of working conditions or wages amongst workers.
    A worker’s social media comments are generally unprotected if they are minor complaints not related to a group activity with employees.

    Employers also have the right to monitor telephone calls placed to and from their locations, but with limits. The Electronics Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) prohibits employers from monitoring employees' personal phone calls even if the calls were made or received on an employer's property. The Act also requires the employer to disclose the fact that calls are being monitored and makes it a civil liability for employers to read, disclose, delete, or prevent access to an employee's voicemail.

    Employers have the right to monitor their employees by camera, including in a parking structure for both security and employee safety. However, employers are required to notify employees, customers, and all others in the range of the cameras that their property is under video surveillance. Video recordings cannot include audio due to federal wiretap laws. And cameras can only be used in areas where there is a legitimate threat of theft or violence and never in break rooms, bathrooms or locker rooms.

    RELATED: Read more by Tim Dimoff.

    As always, there are some exceptions to all of these rules, especially when electronic communications are involved. Make sure you think about who is setting up your business' social media accounts and make sure that they and you have a clear understanding upfront about who is granted access to those accounts and what rights your employees will have with regard to those accounts.

    President, SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Speaker, Trainer, Corporate Security ExpertTimothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues. He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University. Contact him at info@sacsconsulting.com.

     
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  • Next up: BBB Business Tips: Have a successful 2022 with these resolutions
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  • BBB Business Tips: Have a successful 2022 with these resolutions

    There's no better time to set new business goals than at the start of a brand new year. The Better Business Bureau Serving Greater Cleveland has some guidelines to help you get started.

     

    The beginning of a new year is often a reason for many of us to start making big changes in our lives: getting back to the gym; purging through unwanted items at home; setting financial goals, and many more popular resolutions. With the start of 2022, that motivation doesn’t just have to be personal, it can also be extended to your company with resolutions for your business. 

    BBB offers the following ideas for business owners to start setting goals in the near year: 

    Reduce costs – Save money wherever you can, without compromising quality. With 2021 having so many issues with supply chains, product shortages, and staffing, 2022 might be a good time to reduce overhead, revaluate or diversify your sales, market on a budget, or go green. Here are seven ways BBB recommends your business reduce costs in the new year.

    >> RELATED: Start your year off with a plan
     
    Engage with customers – As we work to get to a post-pandemic world, trends have shown that consumer behavior has changed. Ramp up your customer service skills. Communicate with existing customers by emailing them business updates, promotions, and sales. Ensure that you're responding to customer inquiries and comments on social media in a timely fashion.
     
    Increase your online presence –Help attract new customers and build brand loyalty by strengthening your digital footprint in 2022. Now is the time to audit your website and social media pages to ensure user-friendliness and accuracy. By establishing a stronger foothold online, customers will be able to engage and hopefully purchase from you directly without ever walking into your store. 

    Foster a positive workplace culture –In a recent Indeed survey, approximately 52% of people reported that they have experienced burnout at some point in 2021, with 80% stating that COVID-19 has had a direct impact and 67% stating that burnout has gotten worse since the onset of the pandemic. As a business leader, it's important to spot the signs of burnout amongst your team so you know when to take action. Help create a thriving workplace culture by doubling down on company values, transparency, and communication with team members to help keep the workplace positive.

    >> RELATED: Read more by BBB
     
    Leverage Customer Reviews - Reputation can mean everything, especially for a small business owner trying to attract and retain customers. You want to tell customers that your business is trustworthy, ethical, and transparent—and what better way to illustrate that story than through online customer reviews. Get creative by training staff to ask for reviews, share customer reviews on social media, and have designated staff responsible for responding to reviews. 
     
    Exercise transparency - Operating with transparency builds relationships that turn curious browsers into buyers and buyers into raving fans. Always be transparent, from admitting missteps and correcting them, to inviting your customers to engage with you online and through social media. Authentic interaction with your clients goes a long way to building customer trust.
     
    Establish Trust - Trust is more important now than ever. For many small businesses, finding a way to establish a foothold in a competitive market can be the biggest challenge. Giving your business a step up over the competition is always something to desire, and aiming for BBB Accreditation is a valuable way to do this. Accreditation requires the utmost trustworthiness, honesty, and integrity, which can help your business stand out. 

    For additional tips and resources, visit BBB.org to help keep your small business thriving. Contact your Better Business Bureau by calling 216.241.7678 or emailing info@cleveland.bbb.org.

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  • Next up: How CEOs Can Help Power an Inclusive Recovery
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  • How CEOs Can Help Power an Inclusive Recovery

    Watch the latest webinar in the "But What Does It Mean?" series - GCP's Equity & Inclusion's webinar series devoted to translating research studies and data into meaningful action.

    In a recent GCP webinar, presenters from the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings - Alan Berube, senior fellow and deputy director, and Reniya Dinkins, senior research assistant - shared findings from recent reports that include key economic performance data for the Cleveland metro area.

    Watch the recording below: 

     

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  • Next up: 4 ways small businesses can create workplace satisfaction and attract talent (even during remote work)
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  • 4 ways small businesses can create workplace satisfaction and attract talent (even during remote work)

    It's critical for small business owners to focus on workplace satisfaction, especially in this remote working environment. Learn the secret to happier employees.

     

    As a small but growing organization, we made it a priority to be creative in order to attract new talent. But the recent rise of remote work, worldwide stress, and unemployment rates have only made our jobs as scaleup organization leaders even more challenging. 

    So, how do we maintain workplace satisfaction and attract quality team members at Pandata?

    We pay attention to the core factors that set a team up for long-term success: diverse hiring practices, comprehensive training programs, fair compensation, and attractive (yet affordable) incentives.

    Check out these four ways you can adopt a similar approach to achieve workplace satisfaction. 

    1. Focus on Hiring Professionally and Ethnically Diverse Team Members 

    In contrast to the data science and technology industry as a whole, we have prioritized diversity in the workplace by building a team of women and men—many with multicultural and multi-ethnic backgrounds.

    We choose to bring in new data science consultants at the associate level and promote them to data science consultants via our internal training program, which has allowed us to focus on building a team of consultants with knowledge and expertise from a wide array of disciplines, including anthropology, law, immunodeficiency research, and mechanical engineering. 

    At Pandata, we’ve found that cultivating a diverse, inclusive workforce organically allows us to solve complex problems in a more meaningful way, from a variety of perspectives.

    >> Related: Employee retention challenges and solutions

    2. Invest in Internal Training 

    Equipping new team members with the knowledge and tools they need to be successful in their jobs starts with a good internal training program—especially if your employees are working remotely.

    At Pandata, we give new hires a flexible training framework that includes curated courses and certifications, as well as peer to peer learning and mentorship. While some are standard to our training program, we also encourage employees to select other certifications or courses of interest to them—so long as they align with Pandata’s growth and their own professional development goals. We want to grow together with our team.

    Investing in continued education and training for existing employees is also important to ensure your team stays up-to-date with the latest tools and technologies. At Pandata, we encourage our team to attend conferences, join boards and committees, and maintain their certifications. 

    >> Related: Read more by Nicole Ponstingle

    3. Offer Fair Compensation

    Employees want to be paid fairly for the work they’re asked to deliver. And why shouldn’t they be? Despite being a small organization, we make it a point to know the average salaries in our industry for the positions we’re hiring, and match them.

    It is also important to us that we do not discriminate against gender, race, or ethnicity when developing and offering compensation packages. There is still compensation inequality in the data science industry and Pandata makes it a point to work toward greater equality within our own team.

    4. Don’t Forget Incentives  

    In today’s job market, employees expect employers to offer incentives that go beyond the traditional monetary incentives. While small businesses may not have the ability to pay for a full ride to college, there are a slew of affordable incentives that you should be considering when it comes time to hire new talent (and retain your existing team).

    Affordable incentives could include: 
    Offering a fully remote or hybrid work environment 
    Unlimited PTO
    Allowing for flexible working hours
    Covering conference fees and certification costs up to a certain amount per year
    Developing an informal or formal mentorship program between experienced and new team members
    Offering reward programs like Bonusly that gives your team access to gift cards, cash, and travel rewards while enriching your company culture 

    It is critical now more than ever for small business leaders to pay attention to workplace satisfaction. Existing employees may feel stretched thin and qualified candidates are difficult to attract. How is your organization ensuring employees are happy and new talent feels welcome?      

    Nicole Ponstingle is the COO and a partner at Pandata LLC, a Cleveland-based data science consulting firm that designs and develops humans-first, trusted artificial intelligence powered solutions. For years, Pandata has worked with clients across a variety of industries, including healthcare, software, manufacturing, marketing, higher education, and technology to design ethical AI solutions that align with their needs and goals. Learn more at www.pandata.co.

     
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  • Next up: How to Know When it’s Time to Part Ways With a Customer or Client
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  • How to Know When it’s Time to Part Ways With a Customer or Client

    Is it possible that the customer isn't always right? Despite your best efforts, there may be times when it's best to part ways with a customer or client. Make it as painless as possible with these tips.

     

    As a small business, you rely on your customers or clients to survive. They are the lifeline of your business. You appreciate the projects and the business they give you, the money you earn from doing business with them, and even the friendship you may have developed. 

    But sometimes they can become more of a problem than an asset. They may become a nightmare to work with—perhaps they have stopped paying on time or are causing problems with your staff. Maybe they have unrealistic demands or keep adding on to the project but are unwilling to pay more. Maybe they are unresponsive or unsupportive of your work. 

    That’s when it may be time to consider firing them.

    But, can you really fire a client or customer? The short answer is yes, you can. However, it is crucial to first make sure you have exhausted all other solutions and explored any potential remedies to the problem. It is always best to work things out when possible. 

    A working relationship is kind of like a marriage. You have invested time, energy, and money into this relationship. It’s important to take the necessary time and effort to ensure ending the relationship is the right thing to do—and that is it what you want to do.

    To begin this process, start by taking full stock of the situation and clearly identifying the problems. Are you losing money on them? Are you losing staff because of them? Why and how?

    Also try to look at the situation objectively and make sure your ego or your need to make money is not getting in your way. 

    Then, take some time to talk to the customer or client and listen to what they have to say. Clearly assess the situation to determine if you can work out the challenges and problems. Then make your decision with a clear head and a clear conscious.

    However, it may be that a customer or client has behaved inappropriately with you or your staff. These types of situations are definitely more cut-and-dry—and you shouldn’t hesitate to fire them immediately. This includes sexual or any other form of harassment. 

    RELATED: Read more by Tim Dimoff 

    If you decide that the time has come to fire a customer or client, here are some tips to ensure the smoothest process possible:

    Be honest and clear about the problems or the situation 
    Never blame them or intentionally offend them. Blame the particular circumstances if necessary—this can include personal circumstances or a change in business direction
    Finish any outstanding projects or services to the best of your ability
    Create a final task list for both you and the client
    Suggest a replacement if you can
    End the working relationships in person or by phone or letter—not in email

    Firing a client or customer is never easy or preferred. It’s almost always a tough choice to make. However, if it needs to be done, doing it quickly and the right way will help ease the situation for both of you.

    Timothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues. He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University. Contact him at info@sacsconsulting.com.

     
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