What Tactics Help Retain Top Talent in a Small Business?

    Authored By

    Small Biz Digest

    What Tactics Help Retain Top Talent in a Small Business?

    In the competitive landscape of small businesses, retaining top talent is crucial for success. We've gathered seven strategies from Founders, CEOs, and other key leaders, starting with implementing quarterly bonuses and culminating in fostering inclusion and clear career pathways. Discover how these professionals keep their best employees engaged and committed to their business.

    • Implement Quarterly Bonuses
    • Grant Autonomy and Freedom
    • Offer Remote Work Flexibility
    • Encourage Skill-Swapping Opportunities
    • Combine Continuous Learning with Remote Work
    • Promote Internal Advancement and Merit Bonuses
    • Foster Inclusion and Clear Career Pathways

    Implement Quarterly Bonuses

    In my business, a key tactic for retaining top talent has been the implementation of quarterly bonuses for staff—which helps to keep the team continuously engaged and motivated. Unlike annual bonuses that can seem distant, quarterly incentives provide more immediate recognition and reward for hard work, so it's a tangible way to show the team that their contributions are valued and make a difference. This regular reward system also fosters a culture of consistent performance, as team members understand that their efforts can directly influence their bonus, which helps to maintain ongoing motivation and job satisfaction.

    Ajay Mistry
    Ajay MistryFounder, Gambit Partners

    Grant Autonomy and Freedom

    I have used the same virtual assistant for the last five years. She's amazing, and our business would struggle to find someone as good! We give her lots of autonomy and freedom to do things in the best way she sees fit. The freedom and autonomy in the way she goes about tasks means she feels she can apply her creativity in ways which I wouldn't have considered. It's a win-win situation!

    Dr Mark Farrell (Fia)
    Dr Mark Farrell (Fia)CEO, Associate Professor & Actuary, ProActuary Jobs

    Offer Remote Work Flexibility

    A key tactic I've found effective is offering the flexibility of remote work. This means letting employees work from locations other than the office, equipped with laptops for mobility. We support this setup with tools for remote communication, like Slack for instant messaging and Zoom for video conferencing.

    This approach not only provides our team with the work-life balance they cherish but also shows that we value and trust them, contributing significantly to their job satisfaction and loyalty.

    Tobias Liebsch
    Tobias LiebschCo-Founder, Fintalent.io

    Encourage Skill-Swapping Opportunities

    In our small business, one impactful tactic we've employed to retain top talent is the implementation of skill-swapping opportunities. This strategy provides our employees with a dynamic and engaging work experience.

    These job-rotation initiatives have allowed our employees to move through different roles or projects regularly. This helps them acquire new skills and bring fresh perspectives to their teams. Furthermore, project-based assignments offer flexibility, empowering individuals to lead special projects or collaborate across departments based on their interests and expertise.

    By embracing skill-swapping opportunities, our business not only invests in the professional development of our team but also creates a workplace that values adaptability and encourages employees to explore their passions within the organization. This comprehensive approach to talent retention underscores our dedication to the success and satisfaction of our employees.

    Peter Bryla
    Peter BrylaCommunity Manager, ResumeLab

    Combine Continuous Learning with Remote Work

    One tactic that's worked wonders for us at ZenMaid in retaining top talent is a unique blend of continuous learning opportunities with the freedom to work remotely. This approach not only focuses on skill development but also enhances job satisfaction by offering flexibility and a sense of autonomy. Our team members appreciate the balance between professional growth and personal freedom, which makes them more inclined to stay with us long-term.

    The result? A team that's not just skilled but also happy and committed. By investing in our employees' development and respecting their need for a flexible work environment, we've created a loyal and thriving workforce. This strategy is simple but incredibly effective in building a strong, cohesive team.

    Amar Ghose
    Amar GhoseCEO, ZenMaid

    Promote Internal Advancement and Merit Bonuses

    Our digital media company in the insurance industry has found success by encouraging team members' suggestions, promoting from within, and recognizing and rewarding high-quality work.

    For example, I was promoted from a writer to a team lead when I pitched a proposal on how to expand our guest-posting arm, based on my experience in content creation and management.

    Our decisions regarding compensation help retain top talent by giving additional monies based on merit, not across-the-board annual raises. We also coordinate several types of bonuses.

    For example, every month we give bonuses to the writers and SEO editors of the new article with the most revenue and the new article with the most traffic, as well as to the editors of the articles with the biggest revenue increase and the article with the highest traffic increase.

    Michelle Robbins
    Michelle RobbinsLicensed Insurance Agent, Clearsurance.com

    Foster Inclusion and Clear Career Pathways

    Our retention effort encompasses a holistic approach that acknowledges the need for inclusive engagement. Rather than isolating new associates to routine and menial tasks, we embed them within project teams from the outset, allowing them to observe and participate in strategic decision-making processes. This inclusive approach serves to orient them to the collaborative nature of our firm, providing them with a sense of belonging and importance that extends beyond individual assignments. This method has proven to significantly boost retention, as our associates feel an immediate connection to the firm's operations and vision.

    The desire for professional growth and advancement is universal, especially among our ambitious legal associates. To satisfy this inclination, we have designed clear and comprehensive career development programs that offer structured pathways for advancement. This initiative involves personalized mentoring that maps out a journey from junior associate to partner based on the individual's skill acquisition and performance. Clarity in career progression is a powerful retention tool, as it aligns personal aspirations with the firm's commitment to growth and fosters a sense of purpose and continuity that security-focused legal professionals value highly.

    Duane Coker
    Duane CokerAttorney & Founding Shareholder, Coker, Robb, and Cannon, Family Lawyers