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Your Employee Handbook

How to attract and retain your industry's top talent.

This story appears in the June 2009 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »
Your Employee Handbook

(1) Pick winners
It's easy for an entrepreneur to get caught up in numbers. How much were sales last year? What percentage is expected to increase--or decrease--in 2009? But for entrepreneurs focused on running and growing thriving companies, success goes beyond the numbers. It starts, in fact, with people. Attracting and retaining top talent is an entrepreneur's No. 1 priority, says Bob Prosen, CEO of The Prosen Center for Business Advancement and the author of Kiss Theory Goodbye. From motivating your employees to covering their most basic health needs, making your employees feel cared for and secure could be your best insurance for lasting success.

(2) Invest in people
So how do you build a business with a strong foundation of human capital? Build a business where people want to work. Jay Jamrog, senior vice president of research at the Institute for Corporate Productivity has found that today's work force is attracted to diversity, an office that's equipped with the latest technology and a brand that matches the work environment. Even in a down , attracting qualified talent can be a challenge. And it's expected to stay that way. In its October 2008 "Taking the Pulse, Talent Branding" survey, the ICP in conjunction with found that about 83 percent of respondents expect there will be greater competition for talent five years from now.

(3) Avoid turnover
Finding talent is one thing; keeping it is another. According to a September 2008 study by AchieveGlobal, 23 percent of workers in the U.S. expected to leave their jobs within a year. High turnover can be especially debilitating for a growing company. Jamrog estimates that turnover often happens in the first year or two of , especially with younger employees. Therefore, he recommends establishing a professional relationship quickly. Serve as a coach or mentor, and your employees will take notice. Also, keep them challenged with assignments or projects and offer opportunities for professional development. Prosen emphasizes knowing what's important to your employees and then pushing them to maintain a work-life balance. He also recommends offering long-term incentive plans.

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