As the economy improves, employees are feeling more comfortable with their career prospects. A new Glassdoor survey  found that two in five employees expect a pay raise in 2014 and their fear of layoffs is at an all-time low since 2008. Though this speaks to a healthy economy, perhaps most distressingly for small business owners, one in five employees also plan to search for a new job in the coming year.
So, what can you do to retain your top employees? Many small businesses don’t have the funds for lavish benefit packages, but there are cheap ways to improve your employees’ satisfaction and morale.
Hold On To Your Best Employees
Most employers conduct exit interviews to find out why employees are leaving, often at a moment in time seen as “too little too late.” But stay interviews can be a great way to check in with your top employees and make them feel valued even midst their tenure.
Ask your employees what they love about their job, and what they could do without. Do they feel that they are doing the “best work of their life.” Are they treated fairly by their managers? Do they feel that their work makes a difference to the company? All of these questions  are viable and not only a great tool for helping an employee feel valued, but equally great for encouraging an open company culture.
If done effectively, stay interviews are a cost-effective way to boost employee engagement. Interviews are informal, you won’t have to train your interviewers, and limiting the interviews to only your most essential employees will save you time and effort. In turn, the employees will appreciate the personalized attention that a stay interview offers. In fact, Webroot Software enjoyed a noticeable decrease  in turnover rates after implementing stay interviews.
Additionally, once you’ve conducted a round of these interviews, you will have specific, actionable insights on how to make your company a better place for your employees.
Most employees struggle to balance their career with their life outside work. According to recent study  by Accenture, more than half of employees value a work-life balance more than their salary or their specific position. This balance can be especially important to parents who have major outside obligations that often interfere with work.
Make your employees feel like they can always ask for time off if something comes up unexpectedly. These emergencies will most likely be rare, and your employees will really appreciate it. Additionally, consider allowing your employees to work from home, at least part-time. In a recent survey , 94 percent of respondents believe that working from home is an important option for new parents.
As an extra bonus, at-home workers are actually more productive than their in-office counterparts. In one study  (PDF), home workers had fewer breaks and sick days than office workers, and there was a 13 percent increase in their performance.
Another great way to give your employees flexibility? Let them take their lunch. According to a recent study  in the Academy of Management Journal, about 30 percent of employees feel pressured to work through their lunch break. Instead, employees should have the choice over how they spend that time. This autonomy decreases their end-of-work fatigue, and presumably increases their satisfaction with work in general.
Perks, Perks, Perks!
Can’t afford to give your employees a comprehensive health care plan or a month-long vacation? Don’t worry. According a recent survey , more than a fifth of employees rank perks among the top office benefits. These include easy and cost-efficient perks like allowing your employees to dress casually or to bring pets to the office. You can also provide free drinks and food on special days.
The survey also found that these perks are especially valuable to women and to those living in the South and the Midwest, so know your company’s demographic makeup before implementing any changes. It is also a good idea to send out a survey to your employees to see what perks they’d like to have in the office. For more ideas, check out what sort of perks  the top companies offer.
Employees have more career options these days, so you want to make sure your company remains the best option. Conducting stay interviews, allowing your employees flexibility, and offering fun office perks will help to maintain a positive working environment. You employees will do anything they can to stay.
Employee  Photo via Shutterstock