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Guarding the Flock

As the economy improves, how can you keep your employees in the fold?

This story appears in the March 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

An economic turnaround is great-but it can bring with it some unwanted stress on business owners. Namely, the war for top talent that companies saw in the late 1990s will return when businesses start hiring again. "In the last two years of difficult conditions, a lot of people have been cautious and haven't gone out and looked for a job because the environment was too risky," says John A. Challenger of Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., an outplacement consulting firm in Chicago. "As things start to get better, we'll see more people begin to make voluntary [job] change decisions." Though this year may not see a torrent of new hires, this is the first time in two years that people are starting to feel they have options outside their present employer, so you need to motivate your best employees to stay.

Challenger notes that good communication with your employees will make the difference in who stays and who goes. "Talk with them, communicate with them-find out what it is that is driving them crazy," says Challenger. "Most bosses are oblivious to the people who are unhappy or considering change."

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