Hiring is probably the biggest headache a business has, regardless of its size. Finding qualified people who fit your company’s lifestyle and ethics is not an easy task. Even harder, once you’ve found them, how do you keep them happy and loyal, instead of working with one foot already out of the door? Here are some suggestions on how to keep your best people happy:

Show Them They’re Valued

No one likes to feel unappreciated. If your staff member is going above and beyond the call of duty for you, let them know you know it. It doesn’t always have to be with money, either; many people just want you to know what they’ve done, and an ‘Atta Boy!’ or a pat on the back is enough. Don’t get me wrong – money is always nice, but the personal attention given by a pat on the back may be worth more.

Know Their Work style, And Support It

Much has been written on how to have a happy workforce. TQM was all the rage in the nineties; it makes sense in certain environments, but it has to be modified for others. Most companies trying to implement it went about it the wrong way, and wound up just ticking their staff off. Your staff expects you to know your business and work environments inside and out, and when you don’t, they get aggravated and leave. You need to know how your staff works; if you have programmers who work best at night, put in a policy of flexible hours. If you have staff members who thrive on teamwork, organize these folks into operational units and turn them loose. However your staff works best, know it, and make it possible for them to keep working in the ways they thrive.

Keep the Communication Lines Open

Most companies in America wind up with a clear division between management and staff. The staff feel the management hasn’t a clue as to what really goes on in the company and the management reinforces this belief by making decisions in a vacuum. So be involved with the people who do the work; it’s the only way you’ll know what’s really happening inside your facility. Be open in your communications.

Don’t assume, for instance, if you have a financial crisis the only solution is a reduction in force. Your staff may be grateful to just have a job, and be willing to take a temporary pay cut. However, you’ll have to reinstate pay when you can afford to; if you don’t, your staff will find other jobs. Also, keep your pay levels current with the market. Your experienced staff will leave if the new hires just coming in from college start at the same pay as the experienced staff – this is a fact. Keep your pay raises commensurate with market trends. You may not be able to hire as many new people as you’d like, but you’ll keep the staff you have happy and productive.

Be Fair, Not Political

Everyone knows someone who was fired from a job for political reasons. If you get a reputation of being political, your staff will not trust you, and will spend valuable time finding ways to cover themselves in case of problems, or will find other jobs. Be fair in your dealings; if a staff member makes a mistake, be just in your handling of the situation. If a major customer gets in a snit over the way they perceive they’ve been treated, deal with the customer; don’t just fire the staff member who was working with them – find a way to resolve the issue in a fair and just manner. The staff member may well deserve to be fired, and if they do, let them go; don’t make them a sacrificial lamb just to make your life easier.

Treat Your Staff as Valued People

Robert Fulghum wrote a book entitled “All I Really Need to Know, I learned In Kindergarten”; his basic premise is, if we treat people the way we want to be treated, we’ll all get along. If you treat your staff with decency, respect, and appreciation, your staff will reciprocate; when this happens, you’ll all get along much better, and your staff will be happy to stay where they are.

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