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Prior to COVID-19, we began a three-part series on hiring employees for small businesses. Part one examined types of workers to hire and necessary documents to file before hiring workers. In part two, we detailed how to create a job description, conduct interviews, and make a job offer. Now, with the third and final part of our series, it’s time to talk about the best employee retention practices.

How to Onboard and Retain Great Employees

  1. Onboarding practices.
    1. Welcoming the new hire and creating a 30-60-90 day plan.
  2. Retaining and nurturing talent.
    1. The role a business plays in keeping talented workers.
    2. Creating a company culture that resonates with everyone.
  3. Tips for how to keep recruiting fantastic talent.

You’ve determined which worker type to hire, filed the necessary documents to stay compliant with state laws, and made a job offer after carefully interviewing candidates. Afterwards comes the onboarding process — and presumably all is smooth sailings for the new hire from here on out. Right?

Not exactly. According to studies from Guidant’s Small Business Trends survey, there has been a 22 percent increase year-over-year for small businesses struggling to recruit and retain talent. It’s a sentiment that I see reflected in headline news, too. One of the biggest challenges facing small business owners is keeping and nurturing talent. This is made exponentially more difficult as startups compete with larger corporations that outnumber small businesses in size and resources.

That leads us to part three in our series which covers areas for new hires and managers to follow after making the job offer.

Onboarding Practices

Before we dig into advice for retaining talent, it’s important not to forget about successfully onboarding new employees. A great onboarding process should be able to match with the startup’s company culture. It should be organized and personalized to ensure the new employee feels valued and like a member of the team from day one.

Need a bit of guidance for properly onboarding new employees? Make sure you have these aspects prepared and ready to go.

  • Assemble their workstation. The layout may vary depending on what the employee is hired to do. At a bare minimum, make sure the new hire has a space to sit at, working computer, and email address. They may also need a phone extension and key to the office.
  • Get a copy of the employee handbook ready and prep hiring documents. Organize and bundle all of these materials together and have them ready and waiting at the employee’s workstation. You may also consider emailing them over a few days in advance. This gives the employee the chance to begin filling out their paperwork as soon as they arrive.
  • Make an announcement to the team. A new hire is easy to notice at a small business! Let your team know about the new team member, their role, and start date so that every department may welcome the new member.
  • Meet with the new hire for orientation. Once the new hire arrives and has been properly introduced to the team, you’ll need to meet together for orientation. This is the time to share more about the company, its services and offerings, and the employee’s role within it. Use this time to answer any questions they may have about the company’s mission, milestones, and goals for the future.
  • Create a 30-60-90 day plan. Once the employee understands their overall role in the business, it’s time to outline their responsibilities and start training. Establish a 30-60-90 day plan with the employee. This breaks down, by 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days, what they have learned and are able to accomplish.

After onboarding and orientation, remember to check in regularly with the new hire. Make sure they know the appropriate point of contact for any questions and feel like they are fitting into the company.


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Retaining and Nurturing Talent

Retaining talent means doing more than occasionally checking in with the employee to see how things are going. Small businesses have an important role to play in the care and keeping of talented individuals. There are certain benefits that a business may offer, such as unlimited PTO and a gym membership, but those are largely perks included with the job. The best way to retain employees starts from the ground up with a strong company culture.

How do you create a company culture that resonates with everyone and avoids toxicity? Consider the following attributes of a strong company culture.

  • Inclusive. Everyone is respectful of one another and feels comfortable around each other, regardless of age, gender, race, or background.
  • Collaborative. There’s no “I” in team. Everyone is willing to work together to get the job done.
  • Learning. There are constant opportunities for growth, new things to learn, and individuals that may mentor you.
  • Innovative. Small businesses may not have as many resources as large corporations. However, they are nimble and able to quickly strategize, think ahead, and innovate.
  • Beliefs. Employees believe in the business. The mission it has closely aligns with their own personal beliefs and values, which is huge for retaining talent.
  • Work-life balance. You understand that employees have a life outside of work and encourage them to pursue their side hobbies and passions.

Tips to Keep Recruiting Fantastic Talent

You understand how to properly onboard employees and create a strong company culture, Now, you probably have your fingers crossed that even more talented employees want to come work for you and help grow your business. How do you keep finding individuals that are a fit for your business?

Aside from sharing job opportunities on the company careers page of your website and job boards, consider starting up an internal referrals network. Do you have an employee with a great work ethic who knows someone looking for work that also has a strong work ethic? Encourage the employee to refer the potential hire to you! After a bit of interviewing and learning about their background, they might be just the right fit to come join your small business.

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent services, DBAs, and trademark and copyright filing services. You can find MyCorporation on Twitter at @MyCorporation.


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By pressing “Get Started,” you agree to this website’s Privacy Policy. You also consent to receive information from Guidant Financial at the email address or telephone number you entered. This information may be provided by a phone system that can auto-dial. You aren’t required to consent to use our services.