Even when the unemployment rate spikes, employers often complain they cannot find workers with the skills they need. While companies of all sizes are affected by the mismatch between available jobs and employer qualifications, small businesses often suffer disproportionately. If you run a small business, you are dependent on every worker you hire. If you have 200 people working for you, the absence of one or two may not be a big deal. If you are trying to run your business with a staff of five, the absence of a single worker could send you into a tailspin.

That makes hiring the right workers from the start important. It also means you need to do everything you can to retain top performers once they walk through your doors. You might think to attract and retain top employees means paying the most, but that is not necessarily the case. Workers choose to take jobs and remain with employers for a host of reasons, and gross compensation is only one factor. No matter how tight your budget, there are actions you can take to keep the superstars on your payroll.

Engage Employees with Fun Contests
A little healthy competition can be good for business – and for employee morale. Challenge your customer service team to meet aggressive call volumes, and give a prize to the top performers on your sales team. The prizes do not have to be expensive or elaborate, for example, a free pizza luncheon for the winning team is an inexpensive yet meaningful way to build team spirit and say thanks for a job well done.

Ask Long-Term Employees for Feedback
Conducting exit interviews with departing employees can tell you what you are doing wrong, but engaging with veteran workers provides even more insight into your personnel practices. Spend some time with employees who have reached certain milestones such as 10, 15 or 20 years. Ask these veterans for feedback about the company, its management, job satisfaction and the future as they perceive it. You can learn a lot by listening to the people who have stayed with your company through thick and thin.

Build Small but Meaningful Perks into Your Business
You might not think that something like free dry cleaning delivery or on-site oil changes could make much of a difference, but small perks can be valuable to employees. Workers are busier than ever before, and benefits that help them manage their time more effectively can be effective retention tools. Think about the perks that would be most valuable to your existing workforce and build them into your everyday operations. If you are not sure which benefits would be most welcome, survey your staff and ask for their input.

Maintain an Open-Door Policy
There will be times when you need to close your office door, but maintaining an open-door policy with your employees builds trust and helps them feel appreciated. Remember to reiterate with your employees that honest feedback will not result in disciplinary action. The open-door policy should start at the top with the owner of the company, but it should not stop there. Encourage your managers to follow the same policy and engage with their workers on a regular basis.

You do not have to spend a fortune or break your small business budget to attract and retain top employees. With a little bit of creativity, you can keep the best employees at your business and they in turn can help you build a better business.

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