How Small Business Can Win the Retention Game

Retention Sml WEBJust hiring top talent – a job in itself – is not enough. Retention is paramount and career development is a main component in winning the retention game. That may be easily achievable if you are a Fortune 500 company. However, smaller organizations, including non-profits face a seemingly insurmountable challenge with retention and creating a viable career development program.

Not only is creating a solid career path and succession program a challenge, recent societal cultural changes help compound this issue. According to Millennial expert, Chris Butsch in his upcoming new book, Those Damn Millennials, “There are alternatives to unfulfilling positions or careers, and Millennials know it; it’s become easier than ever to build our own boats.” So, a generation that makes up 53.5 million people in the workforce couldn’t care less about your prestige positions or gold watches; and you can kiss company loyalty goodbye. Further complicating retention issues for small businesses is, of course, the lack of resources that just require dipping into deep pockets for a larger organization. So here are some ideas that can help.

Company Culture: The essential point here is what Mom always said, “Be nice.” Millennials have no interest in the cutthroat tactics of jockeying for career positions of their forefathers. Older workers are “over it” and just aren’t going to participate.

Pay Increase: While you may not be able to offer a large 10% increase, a small increase might make all the difference as a demonstration of appreciation. A small bonus for the successful completion of a project can work as well.

New Roles: According to a study by, staying in a role for as little as 10-months can create a feeling of being stuck. Therefore, a role change can prove to be a preventive measure for turnover. If your company is growing in any capacity, revenue, customer base, physically, or through a merger, change will be inevitable and that can provide opportunities for role changes.  Moreover, career development opportunities are better to bring up even during interviews as waiting for the first day on the job may be too late.

Learning: Learning can be expensive. Where a larger organization can pop its employees out to conferences in luxurious retreats across the country, a small business may not have such resources, or these types of resources must be reserved for the top echelon. Thanks to technology, there are many inexpensive on-line courses whereby employees can learn any number of topics. Another learning alternative are books, remember them? In fact, many books are now on Kindle at ridiculously low prices. Reading trade journals can help employees stay abreast of industry, technology, and customer demand changes.

In addition, remember that learning can also come from increasing responsibility, committee work, and special assignments. Even including an employee in strategy discussions can teach real world business, not just theories that oftentimes serve no usefulness when the rubber meets the road. Learning strategy and solid business practices can help build your leadership bench.

The key here is to know each employee’s knowledge, skills, talent, and career goals. This information is easily obtained through discussion and the use of assessments. Then it is a simple matter of matching those skills, talents, and goals to the organization’s strategic needs.

Thank you for reading this blog. Call today for a no obligation discussion on developing a program for you organization’s talent by calling 404-320-7834, or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visiting

Graphic Credit: Copyright: Elnur

Fry, R. (2015, May). Millennials Surpass GenXers as the Largest Generation in U.S. Labor Force. Pew Research
Riia, O. (2018, February). Career Development can be an Invaluable Tool – But Only if Done Right.
Smart, M. & Chamberlain, a. (2016, February). Why do Workers Quit? The Factors that Predict Employee Turnover.
The Kin Group. (2016, August). Creating a Career Development Plan for Small Business Employees.

Retention, Career Development, Small Business, Milennials