With unemployment low, can you avoid turnover?

Most of CEDF’s borrowers have five of fewer employees. Businesses of this scale are often in a circumstance where the available jobs don’t come with an array of fringe benefits, insurance and perks. Unlike a Silicon Valley giant there’s no employee cafeteria with free food, a masseuse and child care on site.

But nevertheless, in small businesses across the nation, many people like their jobs and many stay, for years.

I noticed this personally working in the retail industry. You can make the case, I suppose, that individuals are limited by their education, location, family circumstances and other barriers to mobility. But there are, for example, plenty of stores in the mall. And some really do pay better than others.

But there’s another reason people stay in jobs. Leadership.  They like their bosses.

I always thought there was a great value in discovering and nurturing good leaders. The businesses I have been involved in were usually toward the bottom of the retail pay scale, although we tried to feather thrifty wage budgets with other little affordable perks that would help compensate. Yet I don’t think that made the crucial difference.

Most of the businesses I managed, and the operation I later owned, were located out-of-state. I relied on unit managers to keep things humming. When it was good, it was very good.  But when it was bad, it was horrid. The best manager on the team stayed 19 years and only left because she turned the key to lock the door when the last store had to close.

None of us ever learn all there is to know about leadership but those who are curious about improving usually fare better in the wars against employee attrition. And an experienced team improves results. Even if your industry is one with frequent turnover, earning the loyalty of an extra six, nine or 12 months of tenure can, on average, make your business perform much better.

Here’s a great article that explains where to start to accomplish this.


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