Rewarding Your Staff

Rewarding Your Staff

Keeping them happy

If you’re struggling to find and keep good staff, you’re not alone. Around 70% of Australia’s small businesses face stiff competition for skilled employees as unemployment figures hit a record low.

Recent studies also show that small businesses have a tougher time retaining staff compared to larger companies, with 50% of new employees leaving the job in the first month and 8% deciding on the first day whether to stay or go. On the upside, if you make a positive first impression and offer the kind of workplace and benefits they’re looking for, employees are much more likely to stay (and stay longer) with a small business than with a large company. For small businesses, this is a mixed blessing. While you might not be in a position to offer big salaries and perks, you can tailor benefits and incentives for staff in ways large companies cannot. On the downside, research shows that small businesses are less willing to invest additional dollars in strategies to keep their staff, particularly in the area of professional development. As a result, many employees leave small businesses because of a lack of training opportunities or a clear career path.

So what can small businesses do to create a competitive edge in the job market? The first step is to find out what prospective employees are looking for – and contrary to popular opinion, it’s not all about the money. A recent poll found that the following things were what mattered most to employees and motivated them to stay: a great work culture, a good manager, a work/life balance, and opportunities for advancement. Surprisingly, money came fifth followed by stability and flexible hours.

Finding good staff

The trick to keeping good staff is about starting off with the right people with the right skills. However, less than 40% of SMEs have formal human resource plans in place to recruit, select, train, develop or reward their staff. Even fewer seek advice from professional HR practitioners which means that job vacancies are often filled by friends or family of current employees. The result is that they may miss out on better qualified candidates, so to avoid the common pitfalls when recruiting try the following:


  • Look for people with the right skills and fit for your business and work culture.
  • Get professional HR and specialist skills to help you recruit and retain your staff. It’s cheaper than termination, temporary staff, recruitment advertising, hiring and retraining costs.



  • Don’t rely merely on word of mouth and advertising, since you may not be reaching more qualified candidates.
  • Identify the skills you’re looking for. Only 50% of small businesses in a survey had written job descriptions for their staff and only 21% had a staffing plan.
  • Develop an HR plan and policies to manage staff turnover, professional development and work/life balance needs.How to keep your staff and get them to keep you

    Getting your staff onboard from day one, making them part of the team and delivering on your promises is critical to keeping good staff, especially in small businesses where your people are your greatest asset. The more you invest in them, the higher the return, and the longer they stay. However, recognising and rewarding your staff doesn’t have to cost the earth. It could be as simple as a regular morning tea, a paid gym or magazine subscription, a day off for family commitments or a team building weekend. Often, it can be a simple thank you for work well done.

    Think about what incentives and rewards you can offer your staff and make sure you tailor them to meet their personal needs. While pay may be attractive to a 20 something employee, flexibility, work/life balance or increased work challenges may suit others. Some reward and incentives that work include the following:

  • Flexible work hours including time off for work well done
  • Company awards for performance – i.e. performer of the month photo to share with family and colleagues
  • Shares schemes
  • Gift vouchers
  • Cinema tickets or a dinner for two
  • Training and development opportunities
  • Challenging projects
  • PromotionXpress resources

    Employing people and incentives at

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