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While managers and business owners know the importance of having (and keeping) good employees, understanding how to encourage and retain employees isn't always prioritized as often as it should be among small businesses.

Understandably, many small business owners are focused on tasks related to financial growth, such as making profits and meeting potential goals. Especially during these unprecedented economic times, small businesses are doing what they can to survive and empowering their employees may not be top of mind. However, if your employees are not invested in your business, surviving and growing can be considerably more difficult.

A small business inherently has a more intimate environment which provides the owner a personal opportunity to empower their employees.  This can make them feel like an essential and integral part of both the day-to-day operations of the business and ultimately, the company’s success.

Provide regular feedback

Providing employees with regular feedback while avoiding micromanagement is key. People want to know that they are doing their job right and if their work is being appreciated by an employer. Making this feedback a regular part of your company’s culture avoids daunting one-on-one yearly meetings and allows for crucial communication to take place between you and your employee.

Schedule regular meetings with employees where you address issues, discuss what’s working and what you, as their manager, need to work on. It’s important to listen during these times.

Empower employees through education

An innovative way to have employees that are up-to-speed on your industry and marketplace is to actively promote education outside of the workplace. If you’re financially able, set up a compensation program where you contribute towards an industry certification or course that will enhance an employee’s knowledge and ultimately, contribute to the success of your business. 

This is an investment that will directly empower your employees. It shows them that you are invested in their growth and want to encourage them to expand their knowledge and credentials.

business owner training employee

Establish an employee recognition program

One of the most common reasons people leave their jobs is because they don’t feel appreciated. In order to attract and retain talent that will keep your business moving forward, develop a recognition program for employees that will keep them satisfied with their work and their employer.

A good employee recognition program should have a clear objective and ultimately bring your business closer to its goals.  If you’re trying to boost sales or employee productivity, your recognition program might encourage employees to improve their performance. Rewarding the entire company when you reach a macro-level achievement is another simple way to make your employees feel seen and valued. Remember that employee recognition programs aren’t one-size-fits-all — evaluate your program regularly to make sure it’s still working for your organization and your staff.

Trust them

One of the biggest challenges many small business owners have is trusting their employees. No matter how skilled they are or how confident you are in their dedication, it can be hard to let go and trust them completely.

Just remember that a sign of success is growing your business to the point where you can relinquish responsibilities to your employees. This will not only relieve you of work and stress but serve as a huge boost to the employees who have been on this journey with you. It gives them a sense of ownership within the business and makes them feel even more integral to its success, and thus, they’re more likely to stay at your company.


Get more resources and information on how to successfully manage your small business.

Editor’s note: This article was written by our partners at U.S. Bank.