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The Easy Guide to Rewarding and Retaining Top Talent

Holding on to great employees can be a challenge for small business owners. Check out these handy tips on keeping your top talent happy and productive.

Strange, but true: In the typical small business, your two or three most talented employees may be more valuable than everyone else combined. Small companies tend to rely on just a few people to get the lion's share of difficult work done, so it's important to reward and retain these top performers.

How can you protect the stars in your stable? Read on.

Communication

Good communication means more than just providing feedback—it means listening too. Frequently, employees who do the best work have good ideas as well. Solicit their opinions about important decisions, and don't be afraid to shelve your own ideas if better ones arise.

Top talent likes to know it's being heard, and your employees are far more likely to stick around if they feel they have a stake in your company's future.

Responsibility

Talented people tend to be versatile as well. One of the easiest ways to keep your performers happy is to increase their responsibilities. Let them weigh in on a broad array of projects, and hand them the reins on something particularly challenging.

Employees who are especially competent often shine when the pressure is on. So don't be afraid to throw them into the deep end as a sign of your faith in their abilities.

Freedom

Another good way to show your employees that you appreciate their efforts is to give them more freedom in their work. Effective employees tend to be proactive, so you can increase their productivity by offering fewer restrictions on their time.

Think of the tremendous morale boost Google gets from its famous 20 percent rule, where employees are required to devote one-fifth of their time to whatever they're most excited about.

Rewards

And of course, there are always incentives. While bonuses are a perennial favorite, you may get some extra mileage from devising more personal rewards.

Consider your employees' passions: Would they appreciate tickets to a certain show? A chance to attend a hot seminar? Your top performers will notice if you're thinking carefully about what they like and tuning your incentives to their needs.

Above All, Pay Attention

In the end, your best employees just want what we all want: affirmation and fulfillment. Build an environment that facilitates candid communication and meaningful rewards, and you'll be more successful in retaining the people who make your business great.
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