7 Employee Retentiton Strategies for Small Businesses

CEO's and business leaders share their best tips at keeping valuable employees.

High employee turnover costs small business owners in time and productivity. Employee retention should be a priority for every small business that looks to their human capital as a strategic asset and competitive differentiator.

Yet, many small businesses struggle with finding cost-effective and scalable employee retention solutions. So, we asked seven CEO’s and business leaders to share their best tips at keeping valuable employees and here’s what they had to say:


1. Create an “attitude of gratitude” workplace environment.

“The best way to retain great employees is to create an “attitude of gratitude” culture that starts at the top. Along with thanking employees daily, our leaders facilitate quarterly team building meetings, offer free meals for the staff cooked by a gourmet chef, encourage everyone to do community service monthly, and support personal development training for employees. We also lead by example, and offer coaching to employees who want to review entrepreneurial ideas. The co-founders walk the talk as the authors of ‘The Social Capitalist’ who regularly donate a portion of profits, time and goods to charity. If you want to keep a great team dedicated, give gratitude every day!”

– Josh Lannon Company, Co-Founder and CEO of Journey Healing: @JourneyCenters


2. Empower employees by getting out of their way.

“Let people work! Micromanagement is the easiest way to zap positive energy, creativity, productivity and initiative in any group. After completing the indoctrination that is the first few weeks of a new job, as a leader, get out of the employees way. Allow them to develop and display independent thought and performance; foster and manage intimate knowledge of the customer; incorporate best practices they have brought from previous experience as well as what you have briefed them on. Giving your team the strategic intent, tools to execute, and autonomy to do so, is very important, in my experience. Remaining available to assist where you can is advisable.”

– Michael Bilello, President and CEO of Centurion Strategies: @BilelloPR


3. Tip the scale with an inviting company culture.

“Retention can depend on a variety of factors — compensation, work-life balance, upward mobility — but what tips the scales is often the company culture. Entrepreneurs should take the time to understand what kind of environment will attract and excite top talent. This varies from industry to industry; our tech-heavy team, for example, puts a premium on executives who have computer-related backgrounds because they need to know that their leadership has vision, passion and a true appreciation for the countless lines of code required to make their product work.”

– Aaron Skonnard, CEO of Pluralsight: @skonnard


4. Inspire an ‘ownership’ mentality among employees.

“In order to retain employees, you must empower them. At a startup it is nearly impossible to adequately pay your employees, thus you must find other ways to reward your staff. By empowering employees, you are making them a part of the organization. More than simply feeling like a part of the team, they feel as if its ‘their’ company and they have the ability to make it successful. Empowering an employee can be as easy as allowing them freedom to manage their own products or their own teams.

– Greg Stallkamp, CEO of Lakeshore Express Airlines: @LakeshoreExpres


5. Offer VIP employee perks.

“Outside of making the environment fun, one of the best ways I’ve found for small business owners to retain employees is by offering perks. [For example], with companies like AnyPerk (www.anyperk.com) employers can spend just $5 per employee and offer perks, discounts and VIP treatment in fitness, entertainment, travel, and a lot more from thousands of companies.”

– Mike Kawula, Founder of Self Employed King: @SelfEmployDKing 


6. Provide flexible work schedules.

“For hourly workers, flexible schedules mean greater control over their daily lives, and can increase the level of engagement they have with a company. To automate this process for a large workforce, collaborative or self-scheduling options are a great option. These solutions cannot only improve retention, but also operating efficiencies and in turn, your bottom line.”

– Bimal Parmar, VP Marketing of Celayix Software: @Celayix


7. Outline a career map for employees.

“Work to help individuals plan to stay with the company — to plan their careers. The key is to guide your employees in mapping out how they can attain their career goals within your company. It’s easy to focus on the near-term when managing people in a high performance environment. You bring in “A” players with the expectation that they’ll succeed in the role for which you’ve hired them — and unrealistically assume they will stay in that role forever. Your top performers are thinking about their career, and you should be too.”

– Billy Bauer, CEO of Royce Leather: @royce_leather


How do you retain employees? Let us know in the comment section below.


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