(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is sponsored by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), a leading provider of insurance, annuities, retirement plans, and other employee benefits. They were recently recognized by the Ethisphere Institute as a 2017 World’s Most Ethical Company. Many congratulations to them. Enjoy the post!)
All businesses face the same challenges. From an operational perspective, every business deals with maintaining product quality, customer service, marketing, technology, and cash flow. Plus, a whole lot more. It’s the same with people issues. Every business is faced with recruiting challenges, employee morale and engagement, retention, training, etc.
As someone who has worked for big businesses and now owns a small one, I feel like we do everything large companies do. We budget, plan, and strategize like any business. However, I know that sometimes it feels like big corporations can fix challenges by throwing money at their problems. Big companies can have more resources at their disposal. It’s true. Some big companies have more resources and they choose to spend those resources to address issues. That doesn’t change the difficulty of the issue. But it can often mean the solution is more readily available.
The Advantages of Being a Small Business
However, when I start thinking about the advantages big businesses have, I’m also reminded of the reasons that we chose to keep our company small. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are 28 million small businesses in America, and they account for 54 percent of all U.S. sales. Small businesses provide 55 percent of all jobs and 66 percent of all net new jobs since the 1970s. And small businesses are growing. Since 1982, the number of small businesses in the U.S. has grown 49 percent.
There are plenty of reasons to start a small business and keep it that way.
Small Business Concerns about Employee Loyalty
I recently got my hands on the MassMutual Business Owner Perspectives Study. It’s a very interesting read worth checking out. While the study covers issues like business valuation and transitioning ownership, I immediately homed in on the section about employee loyalty. Because even though business valuation and transitioning ownership are important, employee loyalty was ranked the number one issue facing small businesses (81 percent).
Interesting, eh? The very same thing that’s keeping the Fortune 100 up at night is disrupting the sleep of small business owners. The question becomes, how can a small company retain employees? In my experience, employees leave for two reasons.
Reason #1 – Their manager.
Employees want to feel that their manager is there to support them. That means managers should set expectations, teach employees what they need to be successful, offer regular coaching and feedback, and give recognition for excellent work.
Small businesses have an advantage in this area because it’s easy for employees to get noticed in the organization. There are fewer organizational layers and employees can build stronger relationships with people at every level of the company. Also, employees can potentially learn more because they are exposed to all aspects of the business, not simply the department they work in.
Reason #2 – Their job.
Employees want to do interesting work. I’ve often heard employees at small companies say they feel more connected to the mission of the organization because they can directly see how their role impacts the bottom-line.
Employees also want to be paid fairly and competitively. This includes their benefits and perks package.
Small businesses can have an advantage here because they don’t typically have all the policies and procedures that larger companies do. So, things that employees like such as casual dress codes, flexible schedules, and working from home could be possible. And many of these things have a low cost attached to them. That’s not to say that big companies aren’t adopting them too – they are. But small businesses often have the agility to quickly expand upon them. They can identify employee wants and needs and adapt their offerings accordingly.
The key for small business owners is understanding what their employees want and developing a plan of action to make it happen. Just because Google employees have a foosball table doesn’t mean your employees want one.
Get Some Creative Inspiration from Others
When faced with a challenge, I’ve always thought one of the best places to start is by getting some creative inspiration from others. Think of it as benchmarking or best practices.
MassMutual is hosting a realBUSINESS™ webinar focused on “How to Overcome the Top Challenges Small Business Owners Face” on Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. The highlight of the webinar will be a live question and answer period with small business owners. It’s the perfect opportunity to find out what others are doing. I do understand you might already have plans for Tuesday. If that’s the case, sign up anyway and get the recording.
Small business owners have real advantages that they need to leverage when it comes to attracting and retaining the best talent. There are lots of people who would prefer to work for a small company. Take advantage of the opportunity! Your employees (and future employees) will thank you for it.
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