Hiring and retaining top talent is a priority for most companies, but it’s doubly important for your small business. Your employees are a big part of your competitive edge.  Losing a top performer can have a significant impact on your overall operation.  Then there’s the cost to your business. When someone leaves, there’s a cost in lost production and retraining. Some estimates put the cost of replacing an employee at one third of the new hire’s annual salary.

With so much at stake if a highly talented employee walks out the door, what can you do to minimize turnover in your small business?  Most experts will tell you that hiring the right people is the first step to reducing turnover. Interview and vet candidates carefully to make sure that a prospect will fit with your company’s culture in addition to having the right skills and experience.

Other ways to keep top employees on board:

Offer a competitive package: Salary and benefits should fit within the industry range. The package also can include a bonus structure for reaching agreed upon goals. Try to be creative. Get input from employees on what they would like to see in a bonus structure. Review compensation and benefit packages at least once a year.

Meet personal needs: Mobile devices, wireless headsets and cloud computing make it possible to work anywhere and anytime. As a result, many companies accommodate employee needs for a better work/life balance through remote working as well as flexible schedules.

Provide a career path: Create a career plan for highly valued team members. The plan lets your employees know they are valued and that you want to invest in their future. Include training opportunities – workshops, seminars, conferences or courses on company time.

Show respect:  Listen to your employees and share their ideas and recommendations with the rest of the team. Never embarrass or shame an employee.

Recognize achievements: Relationships with managers are key to an employee’s sense of satisfaction. Make sure your managers let employees know their efforts are valued. In addition to frequent praise for a job well done, managers should find ways to recognize someone’s efforts.  A special reward for exceptional performance could be something as simple a dinner out on the company, a day at a spa or tickets to a ball game.

Solicit feedback: Employees want to feel they are part of something worthwhile. They want to contribute to the decision making and the direction of the organization. Where possible get employee feedback on decisions that affect their work and the overall direction of the company. Have them participate in creating the mission and goals of the organization.

Communicate continuously: Don’t wait for the annual review. Check in with your employees periodically to get their input and find out how they are doing and if they have concerns or issues.

Keeping your top talent on board contributes to your success. While a good salary may get highly talented people in the door; making them feel valued and proud of your organization will keep them there.