Improving employee retention and job satisfaction in an SME


Nearly half of Australia’s workforce is likely to be looking for a new job in the next 12 months – as workplaces across the country struggle to renew in time to cope with modern challenges.

The Snapshot of Australian Workplaces is a national survey of 1,000 Australians including full and part-time workers and the self-employed. It was commissioned by Reventure Ltd, a not-for-profit global think-tank with the mission to undertake research, encourage debate, and lead action for workplace renewal. 

The 2016 Snapshot of Australian Workplaces which has been released today has clearly identified job satisfaction, technology, productivity, and general health/life as the most significant issues confronting Australian workplaces,” said Reventure’s lead researcher, Dr Lindsay McMillan.

“Workplaces which are engaging with these challenges have happier, healthier and more engaged staff with higher levels of commitment and productivity – unfortunately the majority which are not engaged are in a vicious cycle impacting on stability, commitment and productivity.

“The result is that 49 percent of those surveyed say they will be definitely or probably looking for a new job in the coming year.”

Five ways to nurture talent in a SME by Mikki Silverman, CEO of DiffuzeHR

As the owner of a SME it can sometimes be tough competing with the big end of town when it comes to talent. However, while they may have bigger budgets to spend on salaries and bonuses, small businesses have plenty to offer employees to keep them nurtured and engaged.

But why should you spend money on nurturing your employees?

It is well known that it costs a lot more to attract and train up new staff than it does to retain existing staff. Plus, your current employees have a lot of organisational knowledge and experience that is often very hard to replace.

Investing in growing and developing your staff naturally leads to better productivity, less employee churn, better customer service and at the end of the day, better turnover. So why wouldn’t you?

Here are five ways you can nurture talent in your SME: 

#1. Acknowledge people and their achievements

When employees feel supported and encouraged, combined with a sense of genuine respect and the feeling of being valued by their organisation, they are more engaged and motivated.  

There are plenty of opportunities to demonstrate how important your employees’ input to the business is. Celebrating their hard work, such as the culmination of a successful project, a satisfied client or even staff birthdays, promotions and personal milestones, can help to ensure employees feel valued and can help to motivate them as well.

#2. Involve them in the direction and vision of the business

Employees not only want to feel like they are part of a team, but they are working towards a common goal. Involving them with the direction of the business and its growth plans, will help them align their work with the bigger picture of the business’ goals, thereby improving performance, and also result in higher levels of commitment and accountability.

#3. Have a welcoming, open culture

Feeling out of place or unwelcome can lead to employees feeling disenfranchised. Ensure your workplace has open communication, is flexible and supportive so everyone feels included and comfortable.

A good way to do this is to ensure workplace policies around bullying and employee conduct are regularly updated and enforced. It’s also a good idea to encourage an environment where employee feedback and communication is valued. For example, have a system or procedure in place where employees can regularly express their opinions and ideas freely without fear of reprimand.

#4. Have company values that are meaningful

While many businesses put considerable effort and time into developing catchy and inspiring sounding values, very few actually help their employees to live these values. In most cases employees learn about company values during induction, only to never hear about them again.

Consider how you can remind your existing employees about your values. For instance, initiatives like reward programs where employees can nominate their peers for displaying the company values can be an effective way of reinforcing values on an ongoing basis.

#5. Provide pathways for development

Employees need to feel they’re being given an opportunity for growth and development. If your business doesn’t have a performance management system, put together a plan so you can give timely feedback on your employees’ performance. A good performance management system makes it easier for you to recognise and reward good performance while allowing you to manage underperformance.

Small businesses have a lot to offer employees, but as a business owner you also have to recognise the importance of nurturing your staff so they are able to grow with the business.

Mikki Silverman is the CEO of DiffuzeHR, a best practice HR system for small businesses