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Keeping the Good Ones Around

Are you afraid your key employees are ready to walk? Here's what you can do to keep your most valuable players around.

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This story appears in the April 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Every time one of the 46 employees of J.L. Patterson & Associates leaves, the company loses expertise, incurs the expense of hiring a replacement and risks alienating customers who must deal with a new recruit. "It leaves a huge void," says Jacqueline Patterson, 47-year-old founder of the Orange, California, engineering company with $7 million in 2005 sales. "We try to avoid having people leave us whenever possible."

Employee retention is a major concern for entrepreneurs everywhere. In fact, entrepreneurs see it as the single most critical factor for business success in 2006, according to Entrepreneur magazine and PricewaterhouseCoopers' first annual "Entrepreneurial Challenges Survey," which was reported in the January issue of Entrepreneur. Seventy-three percent of the founders and CEOs of 340 fast-growth businesses surveyed said retaining key workers was the biggest issue they faced. The next-ranking issue, developing new products and services, was named most important by only 38 percent of entrepreneurs.

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