How to Retain Employees Without Breaking the Bank


So you made it successfully through the hiring process and have an awesome new hire – congrats! But now the real challenge begins, keeping that employee.

Just like with clients, your best but often most undervalued employees are the ones you already have! It’s a lot easier/cheaper to keep your employees rather than find new ones – so how exactly do you do that?

1. Throw a Party

Have you ever started a new job? Typically a bunch of papers are shoved in your face and you’re put in a corner to fill them out, possibly watch an outdated video and then thrown to the wolves.

We get it, your staff is busy, but this could not make a new hire feel less welcome.

Make a big deal out of your new hire’s first day – throw a party in their honor! Maybe it’s tying some balloons to their chair, ordering a cake and asking employees to stop by and say hi, getting them a gift basket – whatever you decide to do, make it a process that you repeat with all new hires – trust us here.

Imagine your new hire going home to their spouse who will inevitably ask, “How was your first day?” Would you rather them respond with “it was fine, just another job” or “It was amazing! They threw me a party, I’ve never had a job that did that!”

2. Offer benefits they’ll love

We understand, it’s tough to provide benefits like health insurance, especially for smaller businesses, but that doesn’t mean working for you should be without perks!

Show your team members you care – whether it’s discounts/freebies from your business, a Spotify membership (only $10/mo), free lunch once a week – there are tons of inexpensive options your employees will really appreciate.

For hourly or part-time employees, offer paid vacation following 6 months of service (in good standing of course) and make it mandatory! This is a benefit hourly and part-timers don’t often receive but will truly appreciate. By making it mandatory you can use it as incentive for your other employees – “hey guys, did you know Mary is spending her paid vacation time relaxing in Miami?” It will give them something to look forward to and to work for.

3. Show respect

Let’s face it, not all employees are treated equal – it’s typically the “less important” roles within your company that don’t necessarily get the respect that higher-level employees receive.

What are we talking about?

Something as simple as providing personalized email addresses & business cards to everyone (regardless of the job title) can make a huge difference in how important an employee perceives their job to be. Both are cheap (Vistaprint always has discount codes and can make professional business cards for under $20 and Gmail business charges $5/mo for a personalized email address) and easy.

Even with turnover, maybe you lose $200/year in business cards and emails – but just count that as a cost of hiring – trust us many employees have never had a business card or personal email, it will fill them with pride and they’ll proudly promote your business to everyone!

4. Incentivize excellent work and attendance

You want your employees to consistently show up and perform at a high level, right? Well unfortunately for most, their salary or hourly rate will not be enough to get them working the way you’d like.

Create a simple incentive program such as giving points they can redeem for rewards – for example, one month of perfect attendance earns 5 points, an outstanding client review earns 10, etc.

Create rewards for certain point amounts such as 50 points for a $20 gift card, 200 points for a paid day off, etc. Keep track of everyone’s points on a whiteboard in a communal space for all employees to see. This model inspires a competitive spirit and also shows them that their hard work and attendance is recognized and not in vain.

5. Offer upward mobility and mean it

As a business owner it can be easy to forget about your employees’ need for growth, after all you juggle so much you’re just happy to have all your bases covered. But did you know that the most commonly cited reason for leaving a job is not pay related but rather lack of opportunity for growth?

Make it a point to tell employees (starting in the interview process), that your company offers growth opportunities to great employees that earn it – and mean it.

Set up an evaluation process – quarterly is typically good (make evaluations the same date for everyone, regardless of their start date, to simplify this process) and discuss with each employee their performance and their goals. If they express to you an interest in a specific position, let them know what they need to do to get there or if they are already there, promote them! Promoting from within is not only easier, but it inspires others that there really is opportunity if they put in the work.


Bottom line: it’s much cheaper and easier to keep an employee you already have than to hire a new one – so don’t be afraid to spend a little money and effort (it’s seriously minimal compared to continually hiring/training new people) to start out with happy employees and keep them that way!

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