Employee Retention Is About Much More Than Just Money

As a small business owner, whether it’s an online franchise business opportunity, retail franchise, distributorship, licensee opportunity or even a home-based operation, you may not have a lot of money to throw around when it comes to keeping your employees happy, especially when times are tight. And that’s okay because it turns out that, while money is still the number one motivator, simply being offered more of it is no guarantee that your employees will stick around.

In fact, according to research conducted for the third quarter of 2012 by executive advisory firm CEB, some of the biggest reasons employees go looking for other opportunities have little or nothing to do with money.

For instance, CEB’s findings show that good old-fashioned respect also matters and to a significant degree in that it runs second only to how much money someone makes. Contentment in today’s workforce, it seems, is not only about what we do and where we do it but how we are made to feel by our employer when we’re doing it. Employees today want to feel like they are making a contribution, that their work matters and that they are being validated…something else that many small businesses and their owners have to offer in spades.

Next up, in the third spot, is future opportunity, followed by stability at number four. Opportunity and job stability are no longer recognized as being tied only to large companies that have been around forever, not when even they are known to lay people off with little to no warning these days. The truth is that prospects for both exist anywhere there is a concrete plan and capability for growth over time, something many small businesses can and do provide.

Coming in at number five and seven? Manager quality and people management. That’s right, who is running things and how they’re doing it also matters. Treat your employees with respect, run an efficient operation where they feel appreciated, and it could just mean the difference between them staying or going.

And in between those last two at sixth place is something that, perhaps more than any other of the top-five employee retention influencers, speaks to just how much our societal attitudes about work are changing—work-life balance. It’s a term we hear a lot, but what does it really mean? Contrary to what many might think, it’s not about slacking off and getting less work done. Rather, it’s a desire for true flexibility, the kind that only today’s increasingly interconnected and mobile world can support. Above all else, it’s a plea to companies and business owners of all shapes and sizes from today’s oftentimes dual-income couples and families who have children and aging parents: Please worry less about when, where and how the work gets done and be more open to the prospect of gauging success in terms of what the final product or outcome is or will be.

Healthcare, which ranked at number seven in drivers of attrition, is a tough one right now for sure. There’s a lot of speculation about what the actual impact of the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) will be now that it has been upheld by the Supreme Court, especially on small business owners. Some say it’s going to put many of them out of business or at the very least force them to cut staff, and others claim it will have tremendous positive effects on everything from encouraging entrepreneurship to small business owners being able to hire more highly qualified talent than would otherwise be the case. Whatever the truth may be, one thing is for sure, health benefits are top of mind for many American workers, so anything you can do as a small business owner to help them get them, keep them and manage to afford them is going to be a big plus.

And number nine? Location, location, location. Especially given the price of commuting these days, be it either in gas or the cost of public transportation, how far an employee has to go to get to work is a big deciding factor in whether they stay or go. It’s an issue that small business owners need to be aware of and sensitive to, and it’s also something they can factor into their own decision-making, whether it’s with regard to hiring, compensation or even where to set up shop.

And finally, coming in at number ten, coworker quality does impact whether or not employees hang around for any length of time. That should be of special interest to business opportunity, franchise and other small business owners, many of whom have a very small number of employees. At the risk of sounding cliché, one or two bad apples really can spoil the whole bunch. So be careful who you hire, make sure they fit in and pull their own weight, and be aware of the interpersonal dynamics among those who work for you. It could mean the difference between your keeping the employees you value the most and their flying the coop.