How Top Companies Retain Talent – And How Small Businesses Can Apply These Lessons

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• 5 minute read

In recent years, the global job landscape has been rocked by the Great Resignation, the trend of record numbers of employees quitting their jobs in search of pastures new. While quitting rates have normalized to pre-pandemic levels as of January 2024, nearly half of U.S. workers across various industries plan to look for a new job in the year to come.

There are all sorts of reasons why people leave their jobs, from dissatisfaction with their pay to a feeling of being stuck in place professionally. For a small business, it’s a blow whenever a talented employee hands in their notice — but it’s also a vital opportunity to analyze how your company can do better at keeping employees happy, motivated and less likely to leave.

What Can Small Businesses Learn from the Giants?

Of course, you don’t have to wait for an employee to leave before making talent retention a priority for your small business. Whether you have three employees or fifty, the benefits of creating strong talent retention strategies can’t be overstated. Consider the financial aspect, for one: it’s estimated that finding an employee’s replacement costs over a third of that employee’s annual salary.

So where should the small business owner start? Like with any aspect of running a business, we can look to the world’s biggest and most successful companies for ideas and guidance. Take a look at our infographic below that further explores the importance of keeping employees and how 14 billion-dollar firms have prioritized talent retention and enacted strategies that your small business can use as a framework.

Infographic showing 14 tips on how top companies retain top talent

Click here to view in full size

Retention Starts with Recruitment

Talent retention starts at the very beginning of the recruitment process. At the interview stage, recruiters should be transparent with a candidate about things like the salary being offered, a typical role progression roadmap and the scope of learning and development opportunities. All of this will ensure that you and a potential employee are on the same page from the get-go.

You may also want to take a look at how quickly a particular candidate has moved on from previous jobs. On candidates who tend to stay less than a year at a company, Amy Zimmerman (chief people officer of Relay Payments) comments: “It sends quite a few negative signals. Number one, you lack commitment. Number two, you lack perseverance. It tells me that if the going gets tough, you get going.”

It’s also a good idea to gauge whether your company’s vision and mission align with a candidate. According to Loralie Thostenson of Liberty Mutual Insurance: “We focus more on identifying candidates for whom our organizational story resonates than strictly focusing on longevity. When top talent feels that they have shared values with their employer, it increases the likelihood that they will stay longer with the organization.”


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