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"A Company is Known for the People it Keeps" - Will Rogers

We’ve all known of companies who have experienced major challenges with retaining staff and key personnel. Their turnover rate is high and employees often leave angry and frustrated. A critical component of a start-up's success is finding and keeping good people who will help your business grow through its various stages. But how is this done?

One of the best ways to keep people is to build a community where they want to spend their time. Business owners need to create an environment where your management team and staff are engaged with each other and truly feel they are part of something bigger than themselves.

While the formula for attracting and keeping staff might seem simple, in practice, it can prove quite challenging. One of the biggest challenges is that most business owners are entrepreneurs, not human resource professionals. They typically are focused on their business entity as a whole: how to grow it, how to market it, how to raise capital, and manage cash flow. From my experience working with business owners, they’re rarely skilled in dealing with personnel matters. In fact, when staff and personnel issues emerge, owners typically feel like they are pulled away from other duties they deem more important to the overall health of the company.

Let me share an example that illustrates this problem perfectly. Years ago I was a manager of a small business that was in a continual hiring cycle. There was no human resource person in place, so I was commissioned to oversee the recruiting, interviewing, and hiring. Due to the urgency of filling vacant positions, we were tasked to hire staff as quickly as possible. There was certainly no long term plan for creating a healthy work environment. In hindsight it was almost comical how each interview session was conducted. We would observe the candidate’s behavior, check to see if there was any hint of alcohol on their breath, confirm they were physically fit for manual labor, and ensure they were willing to work for the offered hourly rate. If they checked all the boxes, they were hired on the spot. This example might make a human resource professional cringe, but it paints the picture of how haphazardly businesses often hire new people, and it explains why retention rates are so poor.

I’ve also observed start-up business owners taking the easy route and hiring friends, family, and associates to fill positions. While this may work out for some people, many of these situations ended up in disaster with family disputes and broken relationships.

It is truly difficult to juggle every element of your business, especially if you are just starting out. Truthfully, taking the time necessary to hire quality people is not always possible. However, to create a healthy workplace where quality people want to work, we need to push past the pride of the “this is my baby” mentality and reach out for specialized help. It will be money well spent and save the business significant expenditures and time in re-training, crafting ads for jobs, and conducting interviews.

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