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5 Effective Strategies for SMEs to Improve Employee Retention Back

Posted Date: Aug 7, 2018 4:15 PM

Employees without a doubt are the core of every organisation, fundamental building blocks, for developing and growing a successful business. They look after the day to day operations whilst also managing client relationships and contributing to further business development. It is important for small to medium size enterprises (SMEs) to hold onto their employees for a number of reasons. The cost of replacing an employee is considerably high, whether it be the recruitment campaign or all the administration involved, the costs add up. In addition, the loss of critical knowledge can be a vital blow for an SME, as often there are simply not enough resources to transfer the knowledge onto other employees within the business. Finally, there is a chance of losing the employee to a competitor, which could lead to the employee applying the knowledge gained to your competitor's organisation

Since there is a strong case for retaining employees, this article will explain 5 simple, yet proven strategies to maximise employee retention. We advise you to practice these strategies consistently throughout the development of your organisation.

Be open, communicate and LISTEN

Communication is key, you've heard it before, however, there is more than simply mentioning "communicating". For effective communication senior management must be open to hearing from its employees. More often than not, employees are frustrated by the lack of opportunities to express their opinions to senior management. When adopting an open approach, employees will acknowledge the ease of being able to talk to senior management about ideas or concerns enabling greater trust. You can implement this by simply having an open door policy, holding weekly/monthly informal forums or clearly informing employees you are open to talking to all employees about such matters. Finally, yet the most important of all, senior management must listen to their employees and tackle their concerns, or at least attempt to. If employees feel that their concerns or ideas are not being taken into consideration, they will start to reconsider their options as they don't feel like a valued staff member.

It should be noted, the option of allowing employees to anonymously submit feedback must also be available, not all employees will feel comfortable about discussing their issues in the open forum or face to face.

Setup "stay" interview

If it's come to a point where the employee has made their intentions clear about leaving the firm. It's time to set up a "stay" interview. During this interview you want to make the employee feel comfortable, to ensure they can be open, honest and provide constructive feedback from which you, as the organisation can act upon to prevent further reduction in retention. Usually, these interviews are unfiltered and therefore give senior management a thorough insight into what might be going wrong from the perspective of its employees. More often than not, employers act upon what was said in the interview leading to an agreement of the employee reconsidering their options to stay at the organisation. It could be something as little as, the employee has had to pay extra money towards travel due to rising costs, therefore their salary is being cut into, as a result, the organisation offers an annual travel card and both parties are happy. 

Employee recognition

In a fast-paced environment, where deadlines are continuously looming and workload levels are high, we often forget to recognise and praise those individuals who have contributed to successfully overcoming previous hurdles. It is proven time and time again, recognition of employees goes a long way. Whilst the obvious recognition can be in the form of financial rewards/incentives, there are also non-financial alternatives an SME could experiment with.


Examples of financial incentives:

  • Team day out
  • Team night out
  • Promotion - Salary increase
  • Bonus with salary
  • A gift to the employee

Examples of non-financial incentives:

  • Thanking an employee personally.
  • Taking an interest in their career development/progression.
  • Creating an employee appreciation program (employee of the month).


There are many more creative ways to display employee recognition, however, we hope these get you started.

Offer responsibility

In the competitive world, we live in, most employees will set their goals and visions to drive their career in a way they desire. Employees will put in the extra work if they feel responsible for the outcome of their work, have a sense of worth in their jobs, feel that their skills are put to good use in their work, and are given recognition for their contributions. When offering responsibility, you are also indirectly taking an interest in the employee's career development and progression plans. If you are unsure about the employee's ability to taking on more responsibility, consider offering a low-risk project for them to take a lead role on, you might be surprised with the outcome. 

Recruit the right people

Here at Reecru, we always recommend starting your recruitment campaign with your organisations network. Referrals are great for recruitment as they provide a number of benefits such as better quality of candidates, the speed of time to hire, lower cost per hire and more importantly higher retention rates. However, where the referrals route has been exhausted, organisations either run their own recruitment campaigns or seek assistance from recruitment agencies like Reecru. When interviewing candidates it's important to understand the candidate's goals, aspirations, skill set and whether they're aligned to the organisations working culture. When these characteristics are aligned to the organisation, the candidate is likely to want to grow in the same way as the organisation, therefore more likely to stay with the organisation in the long haul. Ensuring that hiring practices cover these areas thoroughly and earlier in the recruitment process, allows for organisations to hire the right people by preventing the personality of the candidates overshadowing all other relevant abilities.

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