The Hartford: Are You Making the Right Moves to Keep Your Key Employees?

(This post originally appeared on The Hartford)

Oh no! One of your good employees just quit.

It’s happened to me. And it can be a killer. If you run a business my size, just one person leaving can be a significant cut in your resources that’s tough to recover from. Unfortunately, you’ll probably never know the real reason why he quit. But maybe there’s something more you can be doing to make sure your best employees stay with you as long as possible. And no, it’s not having a beer tap in the lunchroom; although that would be kind of fun (not to mention an enormous legal liability). But maybe this spring you can take a fresh look at what you’re doing to motivate your employees to stay. And you can ask yourself some of the same questions I had to ask myself. Questions like….

Do you pay your employees enough? There are good websites that can give you comparative earnings for people based on their position and region. And I bet that you’ll discover that you were. You want to make sure, though, that you’re not on the lower end. That’s because your employees can (and do) access these very same websites…and usually when they should be working! If anything (and easier said than done), you really should be on the higher end of what you pay your people. This makes it tougher for them to move somewhere else. Take a look at your pay scale. Maybe higher raises this year are in the offing.

Do you give them enough time off? Compensation is not all about money.It’s about quality of life. Balance. Happiness. Bing-watching “House of Cards.” Some people would rather take vacation days than cash. And that makes sense – we remember our vacations more than anything else. Take a look at your vacation policy. Is it adequate? Is it generous? Would it hurt to give your key people more time with their families? Can an employee “bank” vacation due and carry them over to the next year? Would it be possible for someone to take an extended period of time off? And what about your vacation? Maybe being out of the office for a week is the best vacation you could offer to your employees.

Do they have flexibility? In 2014 people can work from different places. And lifestyles have changed. It’s cheaper to buy a home farther away. Both spouses work and juggling kids can be tough. Key customers are not always in the most convenient time zones. Can you adapt your company’s operations so that your key people can get their work done even when they’re not in the office? Are they able to connect from home? Do they have the best mobile devices for calling, texting, email and office work? Can your employee feel free to work from home a day or two a week or not worry if he shows up late because of a school conference?

Do you spring for a few extra office perks? Being stuck in your office for 8-10 hours a day is not exactly the dream location. So what are you doing to make it as pleasant an experience as possible? It’s amazing what a coffee machine with different flavored coffees and teas can do for a person’s mood. A nice, finished lunchroom with a flat screen TV where someone can relax on their break. A BBQ on a Friday afternoon. Ordering in pizzas for lunch once in a while. A basketball hoop. These are all little things that make a difference. Don’t skimp on these.

And the most important thing – do you care? No one says you have to have a deep, meaningful relationship with every one of your people. Or that you have to spend an inordinate amount of time with anyone. But do take the time, regularly, to check in. Have a meeting, grab a sandwich and make sure that key person knows that you do care and is reminded just how important he or she is to you and your company. Everyone needs a little pat on the back once in a while. It really helps.

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