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Wyoming Business Tips for Nov. 21-27

November 17, 2022

A weekly look at issues facing Wyoming business owners and entrepreneurs from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

By Mike Lambert, Market Research Center manager, Wyoming SBDC Network

Wyoming business owners are struggling to retain staff, and one of the most common things I hear when speaking with clients is, “I just can’t afford to increase salaries in this economy, and my workers are leaving.”

The underlying assumption is that people are quitting because they don’t feel that they are paid enough. It’s true that employees need to have reasonable and competitive salaries but, in the post-pandemic workplace, salary alone won’t guarantee engaged and loyal employees.

So, what’s the secret to retaining staff? Business managers and leaders will need to break the old model of, “I’m the boss, so do what I tell you.” The employees of today, after decades of feeling that they are easily replaced cogs in an uncaring machine, now realize that, if the company doesn’t care about them, they don’t need to care about the company.

This has been coming for some time, but the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic have brought it to the top of everyone’s mind. Now, what can business owners do?

In a recent article published by empuls, a guest contributor offered “The Top 9 Ways to Improve Employee Loyalty in 2022.” I’ve selected the six I think are the most important and the reasons I think they are key or how to attain them:

-- Encourage communication and feedback, and follow up with action. Think back on your career. If your boss made you feel unimportant, never wanted to hear suggestions or made giving feedback a one-way street, was that a place you wanted to stay, or were you always looking or wishing for something better? Engaged and effective employees want and deserve great communication and feedback. 

-- Praise good performance, and show gratitude. When was the last time you thanked your employees? Here’s a hint. If you haven’t found something to praise, then you probably aren’t looking. If you don’t let people know they are doing a good job, they’ll look for one where they feel valued.

-- If a problem comes up, solve it as quickly as possible, and involve the employees affected. Hold up your hand if you’ve never had a problem in your business. If we were all together in a room right now, I don’t think we would see a single hand pop up. Problems happen, but how you solve them will be a great indicator of how successful your business will be and whether your employees will stay with your business. Plus, more minds on a problem generally mean you will come to better solutions. 

-- Be flexible about defining work. Workers today have become used to having a higher degree of flexibility in the workplace. Every business is different, but think carefully about ways you can help your employees juggle their personal and work commitments. If you can offer some work at home or schedule flexibility, employees will notice. Jobs with no flexibility will tend to be a revolving door as people leave for greener pastures. 

-- Invest in training and development. Want to keep your top performers? Professional development and training will help. Look for ways to help your employees improve their skills. Both your employees and the company will benefit. 

-- Offer fair compensation and incentives. Salary and benefits are important. If employees know that they are being underpaid, they won’t stay. However, it doesn’t have to be just salary. You can offer personal days, or other incentives or perks to make their compensation a little more enticing. 

The most challenging and rewarding job for managers is ensuring that their employees are engaged and that they feel their workplace is a place they want to be and not a temporary solution until something better comes along.

If you are struggling to keep employees or hire new employees, give your Wyoming SBDC Network adviser a call. Your adviser can help you work through employee retention strategies that will work for your business and your staff.

The Wyoming SBDC Network offers no-cost advising and technical assistance to help Wyoming entrepreneurs think about, launch, grow, reinvent or exit their business. In 2021, the Wyoming SBDC Network helped Wyoming entrepreneurs start 80 new businesses; support 4,077 jobs; and bring a capital impact of $9.2 million to the state. The Wyoming SBDC Network is hosted by UW with state funds from the Wyoming Business Council and funded, in part, through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email, or write Dept. 3922, 1000 E. University Ave., Laramie, WY 82071-3922.

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