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  • Small Business Briefcase: Retain and Incentivize

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    Employees are the lifeblood of any business or organization. Follow this expert advice to find, keep and motivate good ones, and you’ll nail an essential element of business success.

    STEP #1
    Getting the best out of your employees is key, but first, you’ve got to recruit them.  Satisfying the expectations of job seekers has been and will continue to be essential in the quest to attract top talent. And providing the basics is still step one, including offering employee benefits like:
    • Vacation and sick leave
    •  A retirement fund (IRA, 401K, pension, etc.) option
    • A health insurance program (employee cost, benefit plan, flexible spending, etc.)
    • Competitive salaries, including fair market value, raises/bonuses, performance-based bonuses, etc.
    STEP #2
    Once you make a great hire, you can’t stop there. Next up is retaining them and then incentivizing them to produce more and hit higher achievements in their work. 

    We are in a city with expanding industries, lower unemployment rates, younger generations choosing to work in Montgomery and Generation Z’s love of entrepreneurship. Some individuals have their pick of jobs or the opportunity to start their own company. Some are ready to accept your job and then leave in a few months when a better benefit and salary package comes along. For all of these reasons, going the extra mile to keep employees happy and create loyalty is crucial.

    Incentives have changed greatly over time but are always dependent on the employees’ perception of worth and what they consider valuable. In part, generational aspects continue to play a role in what works (and what doesn’t) in incentive programs. Some well-known incentivization options that continue to work well include:
    • Rewards and recognition programs like always having the newest equipment, T-shirts, potluck lunches, pizza parties, casual Fridays, etc. (These still work but must be given immediately following the desired performance or goal reached.)
    • Proper use of discipline systems, which means consistent use of discipline for those employees who exhibit poor work habits or continued low performance
    • Consistent and fair application of policies and procedures
    • Good managers and supervisors who care about employees
    Ensuring you’ve got good managers and supervisors on your team is key for recruiting, retaining and incentivizing employees. Those who are knowledgeable, hardworking, pleasant, positive, empowering and truly care about employees are a must. Don’t know who those are in your business? Ask your current employees. They know.

    Now let’s look at some newer methods being used by more progressive organizations. While these have often been avoided by more traditional and highly structured businesses and by upper management filled with those of the “Boomer” generation, they’re proving popular and productive. Examples include:
    •  Flexible schedules
    • Telecommuting from afar or from home
    • Use of employee committees to make decisions and determine everything from leave policies to company celebrations
    • Company alignment and engagement with community and social causes
    • Challenging work
    • Distinct career pathing programs
    • Autonomy in work
    • True and intentional mentoring programs
    • Goal accomplishment acknowledgement and/or celebrations
    • All-employee social times
    • Reduction in the authority-driven and hierarchal nature of traditional organization charts
    • Fun work environments
    This list is not exhaustive but is a good place to start. However, there is an additional way to inspire and motivate a workforce: Create a positive culture with engagement and collaboration. The culture must be one of complete trust where upper management and supervisors trust employees and vice versa. When there is a trust-filled environment, fear and distrust cannot exist. When fear and distrust are present, trust will not exist.
    Sharleen Smith is the Director of Continuing Education and Outreach at Troy University. She has more than 30 years of experience in organizational consulting and training, including the development of human resource policies and procedures, strategic planning, performance management systems, classification and pay systems, interviewing and onboarding processes, change management, talent management and more. Her training includes more than 250 topics, and she has presented to more than 300,000 people at 15,000 conferences, workshops and seminars.
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    Montgomery, Alabama 36101
    Tel: 334.834.5200   Fax: 334.265.4745

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