Boss Lady

How to retain great staff


Before I answer the question as to how to retain great staff, let me explain the why.

Quite simply, it’s a statistical fact that on average it costs 2.5 times an employee’s wage to replace them.   So few entrepreneurs, managers and business owners realise this.   High staff turnover is critical not only to staff morale, client service and retention, but it absolutely affects your bottom line!    So now we are (hopefully) in agreement we want to improve staff retention, let’s delve deeper.

What makes employees care about their job?  Such is a significant question that every entrepreneur needs to ask.  In my years in the corporate world and small business, hiring a great team for the successful operation of your business is an absolute and complete must.   Over the years I’ve won many Awards and always my acceptance speech acknowledge that without my great team, it would not have been possible – and that’s true!

Step 1 is to recruit great team – but that’s another article for another day.

The next most important thing you have to do is to retain your excellent staff.  You need to do everything to keep them in your organization.  Learn from my decades of experiences:

  1. Get money right, although this is NOT the most important aspect. You want a fine line between compensating great time well without over paying them.   I personally believe on pays rates being based on performance and value, rather than simply a team member automatically gets a certain pay rise without performance.  For this reason, performance based salaries work well.  Do a great job, make me lots of money and I’m happy to pay you top dollar.   Other than very junior staff, unskilled staff or undertrained staff, I rarely paid the Award.   If you want monkeys, pay peanuts.   However, if I gave someone a ‘go’ who lacked training, this was taken into account and they would start on a lower level, but with a review in 3-6 months.
  1. Look for a career path for all your workers, most especially for those who do great job. Great employees will get motivated to join your organisation to grow, do new things, and to learn.  They will die little by little day after day if they cannot grow.   They want opportunity, advancement and training.
  1. If you are able to offer flexible working arrangements this can work well if managed well.   One of my prior businesses employed a good number of mums with school-aged children who were able to work from home or work school hours.   Performance, time and quality were tracked and maintained, so I was able to retain some really well-skilled people who stayed a long time.
  1. Converse with people and get real-time feedback once in a quarter, at least. I’ve tried formal, annual reviews before, but it didn’t work well.  What actually works is the one-on-one meeting in an unstructured approach with your great employees.   Make this regular (monthly) and try to delve deep during these sessions.    Staying connected to your team will stamp out any issues early on.
  1. Get the input of your employees then apply it to your company. Involve employees in your decision-making process in a consultative manner.  Encourage initiative and input and when you receive it, thank them for it.   If it’s not a great idea, you won’t implement it, but be thankful they bothered to suggest, so don’t blatantly reject and stamp on their ideas.
  1. Encourage top performers to opt for a creative innovation. Give them both your time and resources to test new ideas that may further your company.  This will help you in keeping them engaged with you and may become an additional source of revenue.  Let your creative staff exert their expertise; it actually benefits those who are involved.
  1. Appreciate and value them. Ensure your team know you appreciate their contributions to your business or organisation.   Some bosses feel that a substantial paycheque is sufficient, but other staff need a little more.   It might be a thank you, or taking them out to lunch, or acknowledging their contribution in front of the team, or in front of clients.
  1. Clean out your organization from prospective dead weight. It is inevitable to have people who likely hold back the others in your organisation.  Employees with sub-par production, office politics engagement, gossip, negativity and lack of good work ethic are liken to a cancer.    If chemo (treatment/management) won’t work, the cancer needs to be removed.  Great people are expected to also work with the other employees with equal skills they acquire.  It pays to eliminate people who don’t deserve to be there – but do it in the right way; you don’t want to get sued for unfair dismissal. But having said that, don’t keep on a poison apple from fear of retribution; seek professional guidance from an Industrial Relations expert.
  1. Keep the office friendly, but also encourage friendly competition.  Competition among the people within the organisation is a common practice in every business.  The best thing you should do here is to gather all teams in your organization to solve similar projects or problems in a given simultaneous timeline. Reward the team with the highest work quality in the shortest time.  Competition in the workplace is fun, very engaging, and exciting.  Motivate your people to stick around.
  1. Get off the backs of your best employees.   Micro managing is the worst thing you can do.   Get great staff, train them well, setup excellent procedures, trust them, give them the authority to action things and then let them do their job!   Your employees already know what are expected from them and when they need things to get done.  Micromanaging and constant reminders will only drive them out your office.  As a perfectionist myself, I admit I found this challenging, but reality is that others can (and will, given the space) do something as good as you, if not better.   Absolutely and regularly check in with them, but only to nurture and support them, not take over.

As an entrepreneur, the best, appropriate thing you can do to keep your top talents is to offer them job satisfaction and appreciation.  This will result in their own happiness to stay and perform more to make your business operation a success.

About Donna Stone

Donna Stone is a business coach with three decades of experience. She grew her own business from a garage to be a multi-award winning operation that spanned five locations nationally. Donna works with business owners and other business coaches, consultants and trainers to help them build their own success. Her Coach the Coach ™ program has proved exceedingly popular. Donna is a prolific writer with hundreds of articles written and six books published. Visit

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