One of the main goals of a small business is to establish a consistent pattern of growth. It’s what takes a business from survival mode to thriving.
When a small business experiences the good fortune of an extended growth period, it’s critical to maintain a low employee turnover rate. Attrition is expensive, and in many industries, the cost of losing good employees is on the rise, thanks to increasingly tight labor markets.
Here are 4 steps to retain employees when your company starts to grow.
Review your infrastructure
Business growth can challenge your current infrastructure. For instance, when business owners develop marketing plans, they may ask themselves, “If we get the long-term response we really want, can our current infrastructure handle that influx of new business?”
When demand for a product or service is greater than the company’s ability to process the influx, the door is open for both employee and customer dissatisfaction. Review your current processes to determine if there are more efficient methods available to handle more business. Can low cost technology assist in meeting the new demand? Do outsourcing opportunities exist? You may discover that additional employees are necessary to handle the increase in business.
Consider employee impact
During a growth cycle, it’s easy to assume employees should be willing to work longer hours or become more flexible with their job description, but you’ll want to keep experienced employees from leaving during a growth period. When you lose employees in key roles it can negatively impact current and new customers; and damage internal morale.
Refrain from making statements like: “They’re not willing to grow with the company.” While it may be true, it’s construed by employees as insensitive. Remember, your employees have lives. Communicate the value they contribute to your company and sincerely express your appreciation for their efforts.
Get in the trenches
If you want to gain a new perspective regarding what is really going on within your company–especially during a protracted growth cycle–spend time on the front line with employees. This exercise is usually an eye opener!
As Harvard Business Review explains: “frontline workers tend to sit at the lower end of the organizational totem pole, meaning their views are often overlooked. But if you take a moment to think about it, some of the best sources of observatory research can come from those at first point of customer contact or first point post customer contact…”
Make necessary changes
When it becomes apparent that infrastructure changes are necessary, take steps to adapt quickly! The most important HR task during a business growth cycle is to keep experienced employees in place. This requires proactive flexibility. Your willingness to make necessary changes in operations, workflow and staffing contributes a great deal to employee retention.
When you take these steps it sends a clear message that you are serious about improving company culture and employee voices matters. High employee morale is the key to keeping the business machine humming during a growth period.
Errol Allen is the founder and CEO of Errol Allen Consulting, a Houston, TX based firm specializing in operations improvement and customer service training. His passion is to create long-term value by assisting his clients in developing both customer and employee friendly processes. Connect with @consult53 on Twitter.