How to Ensure Long Service and Motivated Staff in your Small Business

Happy staff are the lifeblood of any business, make sure how to keep enthusiastic employees on your payroll

How to Ensure Long Service and Motivated Staff in your Small Business

Over the past five instalments, we’ve looked at many ways to attract, interview and recruit the right people for your business. Achieving this may be a little more involved than you’d expected, and as we’ve seen, there are risks and costs associated with recruiting effectively. It’s logical, therefore, to want to keep our new employee with the business for a long time, and to ensure motivation for many years. This vital step is overlooked by many employers, and leads to increased staff turnover and cost.

This topic could form a series of articles in its own right, and it would be wrong to try and cover all points in sufficient detail in this piece, so instead, I’ll leave you with a few pointers, a few areas to think about, as you think about what you can do in your business to retain staff.

It may surprise you to learn that the main reason people change jobs is not money, but more personal reasons such as lack of respect from management, lack of interest in their ideas, and a feeling of being undervalued in their role. And, of course, the perennial desire for career progression. In order to retain your employee for the long haul, it’s important to consider all these areas and others, including training and development and career paths.

Anecdotally, Naturally Sales considers the following to be the top five areas to consider in order to keep staff motivated:

  • operate with transparency to staff and communicate clearly
  • create a clear, measurable career path
  • provide a structured training and development programme
  • ensure the job matches expectations set at interview
  • consider that skills increase with length of service, and ensure the role develops at the same pace

The most important advice I can leave you with is that whatever you promise during the recruitment process, whether that’s formally in a job description, or informally during interview chit-chat, should be delivered to the candidate. If you tell them they’ll progress to another role after 6 months (and I wouldn’t recommend that for a number of reasons), make sure they can do so. If you say the commission structure for a salesperson will enable them to earn £30,000 in their first year, ensure that’s the case and that the targets are set at a reasonable level.

To avoid this type of problem, where the job doesn’t live up to the expectations set, it’s better to clearly state that any progression and earning potential is dependent on results. It should then be documented in a clearly laid-out structure, and targets should be achievable and unambiguous.

Sit down regularly with the new employee during the on-boarding period, and afterwards, to measure performance against the targets set and help them to see what’s necessary to achieve what they need to keep them motivated. I recommend conducting annual appraisals, but remember that there should be no surprises during the appraisal, because your open and frank communication throughout the year should be focused on keep performance at the level you expect. Maintaining this kind of dialogue helps the employee to feel valued, and gives them the feedback they need to perform at their best and to live up to your expectations.

Be generous in your praise and fair in your criticism, share your goals with your employees to help them see how they fit into the bigger jigsaw, and do your best to encourage your staff to buy into the success of your business.

To close, let’s recap the main points of the series.

  • Before you recruit, define your ideal employee
  • Create a job description and use a recruitment method (consultant, web service or direct advertising) which will attract the right candidates
  • Screen CVs carefully for errors, omissions and unusual career history
  • Interview effectively to drill down into concerns from the CV, and to sell the job to the right candidate
  • Ensure that promises are kept and that a clear career and development plan are in place

Follow these rules, and you’ll vastly increase your chances of finding, recruiting and retaining the right employees for your business.

Should you need any further help, Naturally Sales provides a full range of training and consultancy services to help businesses in any industry to recruit and train their staff. You’ll find more information at as well as a selection of free e-tips at Alternatively, give us a call directly on +44 (0)20 8133 5141. I wish you success as you grow your business.

Neil Shorney is the director of Naturally Sales Ltd.

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