Employee Retention: 4 Tips to Help Keep Your Top Talent Got great talent? Here's how to keep it!

By Thomas Smale

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Decent employees might be a dime a dozen, but all-star employees are worth their weight in gold. The talent you keep on your roster has a major impact on your ability to scale your SaaS business effectively and make customers return again and again. Once you find a team that meets and beats your expectations, they're worth every attempt to get them to stay around. These are four of the best ways to do just that:

Offer growth opportunities

Many go-getters find it difficult to look to the future if that future involves the same old thing they've always done. After a while, the grind gets repetitive, and they begin to itch for a new challenge to tackle and explore. You can help them avoid this altogether by ensuring there's always something fresh waiting for them just over the horizon. It doesn't have to be something as grand as a promotion; opportunities to learn a new skill, build on one's professional relationships or explore another area of the business are great ways to encourage an ambitious employee's development between those annual performance reviews. (Watch out for scope creep, though; employees may feel that they're being taken advantage of if they experience a substantial increase in job responsibilities with no boost in pay.) Of course, you should already be prepared to answer general questions about promotion paths, compensation reviews and your overall goals for your team in case you're ever asked.

Related: 5 Effective Strategies for Employee Retention

Recognize a job well done

Think back to a time you put time, sweat, and tears into something before only for it all to go unrecognized in the end. It felt awful, didn't it? As it turns out, this type of feeling is a huge indicator for employee dissatisfaction at work. A study from 2018 found that 62 percent of workers blame insufficient recognition for getting demotivated, turning even the happiest employees into ones who begin to question their role at a company. An unhappy employee who feels unappreciated is bound to let their eye wander toward the "jobs" tab next time they check LinkedIn. Do the math, and you're bound to get this result: a little appreciation equals happier, more tenured employees. Praise (in group settings and in private) is always helpful, but true recognition comes in the form of tangible rewards: a positive performance review, an award of sorts or even a bonus or raise. And if you aren't yet 100 percent convinced, everyone's favorite multi-vertical entrepreneur Richard Branson once said that "the way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers" — meaning that occasional touch of gratitude might extend all the way to your audience.

Related: How to Get the Most From Your Top-Performing Employees

Prioritize flexibility

Especially as many people are working from home, flexibility is a must-have for those who want to balance career roles with other interests and obligations. Giving your workforce the opportunity to pick up their kids from school, easily make it to doctor's appointments, and even celebrate special occasions signals to them that they're both valued and trusted. Plus, data proves it directly impacts retention; one study from 2018 showed that 80 percent of workers would choose a job with a flexible schedule over one without, while another from 2019 found that 30 percent of respondents had left a job because the company didn't offer flexible work options. Many jobs these days can be done remotely, and the sooner your company adapts to a flexible model, the sooner it becomes a competitive employment option for top talent.

Related: 3 Ways to Retain Your Top Employees

Promote a healthy, equitable work environment

Some believe people don't quit jobs — they quit other people. Ask around, and you're bound to meet somebody who has quit a job not because they disliked the work itself but because they could no longer stand the work environment. As a founder, CEO or even manager, it's your responsibility to create a healthy and equitable workplace, and then enforce whatever guidelines you've set in place. Nearly every company has harassment and discrimination policies, and your flexible scheduling will help your employees address their own needs; but you can go above and beyond what's required by law and set the foundation for a space that doesn't allow back-handed comments, aggressive political conversation or other behaviors that may alienate certain employees. (Remember, too, that these policies should apply both in person and online.) Toxicity in the work environment isn't just an OSHA concern; it's a real reason people experience discomfort, humiliation and anger among coworkers, and most people just aren't willing to experience that five days a week.

Employee retention goes far beyond brag-worthy compensation packages and ping pong tables in the office. With both a highly competitive job market and a fast-paced software economy, keeping your top employees should be a priority. By implementing these strategies, you'll not only keep people around — you'll also attract skilled and effective talent for years to come.

Related: The 4 Pillars of Employee Appreciation

Thomas Smale

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Founder of FE International

Thomas Smale co-founded FE International in 2010. He has been interviewed on podcasts, blogs and also spoken at a number of industry events on online businesses, exit strategy and selling businesses.

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