Business Operations

Make Your Business a Magnet for Employees

People in an office looking at a tablet

A robust economy is usually good news for business, but record high employment leaves many owners scrambling to find or keep staff. With demand for labor high, eighty percent of employees say they are actively seeking or open to looking for a job.1

Owners say attracting and retaining employees is a top challenge and an area where they are taking actions.2 It’s not easy to attract the best performers, keep them and allow them to produce to their potential. The steps to hold onto talent extend well beyond compensation and will require your management team to elevate its game to create an engaging and rewarding work environment.

It’s not just about money

Compensation often grabs the lion’s share of the attention in recruiting and retention discussions. It is a prerequisite to attracting and holding talent, and most employees will place it at the top of their list of desirable features. Employers report that they are getting ahead of pay demands with 45 percent looking to increase wages and 43 percent planning expansion in benefits.2 But once you are paying employees fairly and at market rates for their skills, the drivers for employee engagement and job satisfaction shift beyond the pay stub.

Reasons employees leave a company4

  • People leave unchallenging work, not a challenging workload
  • People leave managers, not colleagues, culture, or the company
  • People leave when they don't see a path for personal development

Here are five strategies to hold onto your best employees

Clear Goals, Job Boundaries and Regular Reviews. Employee performance starts with the communication, clarity and feedback of a well-developed goal setting and job review process. Whether an employee wants to be left alone to just do a job or is seeking development and management advancement, that employee relies on clear role definition and a robust review mechanism to reinforce winning behaviors, discourage poor ones and manage mutual expectations. According to TINYpulse® employee surveys, employees are 23% more likely to stay if their manager clearly explains their roles and responsibilities.3

Training and Development. Employers increasingly need advanced skills, ranging from greater technical knowledge to the ability to deliver superior customer service. Office automation, artificial intelligence (AI), advanced analytics and robotics are handling simple clerical and manual tasks. People are needed for their technical skills, customer interaction and complex decision making. Seventy-seven percent of owners are investing in training as a reaction to a rise in automation and emerging technologies.2 Using a combination of on-the-job, off-site skill development and continuing education, employers are growing their employees’ skillset.

Employees demand a demonstrated commitment to their growth from their bosses. Employees who don't feel they're developing and growing in their current role are three times as likely to look for a new job.3 And, many businesses are adding benefits to meet the employee’s challenge for development opportunities. Seventeen percent of businesses already offer college repayment or savings plans.3

Coaching, Supervision and Advancement. No one likes a bad boss who coaches by yelling, micromanages or disappears when needed. Employees expect strong managers who can be partners in advancement. Weak first line management has retention consequences. Of the employees who rate their bosses unfavorably, 40 percent interviewed for a new job in the past three months, compared to just 10 percent who rated their managers highly.3

In a competitive labor market, employee perks like tickets to the ball game or spa and a foosball table aren’t enough. Employees expect to receive coaching from excellent first line managers who can help them shine and can be an advocate in the organization. Employers need to outline a path that will grow employee skills, responsibilities and pay. Successful companies know that if you don’t create a fertile environment for employees to shine, someone else will.

Commitment to Financial Well-Being. When employees are distracted and stressed, they carry those behaviors to work. Forty-nine percent say stressed employees have an impact on company productivity, up from 2018. Sixty-one percent believe an employer should take a role in supporting financial well-being.2


Fifty-one percent of businesses offer and nine percent plan to offer financial well-being programs. Business owners say that retirement and healthcare are top topics, but programs can include basic day-to-day budgeting and financial decision making as well. In the end, 49 percent believe it will help in employee loyalty.2

Being a part of something great. For many, it’s not enough to have a job. Many are drawn to purpose-driven companies, companies that set goals beyond generating shareholder value and engage employees in making that happen. Millennials are 5.3 times more likely to stay at a purpose-driven company.5 Company culture—that combination of behaviors, hiring standards, traditions that make a company unique—can be another attractor and retainer.

The good news for business owners is that many middle market businesses have a very compelling story. You may run a family business with a long tradition, or your company may be the germination of an entrepreneurial idea. You may provide an innovative service, or your company may be a bulwark of your community. You have something for employees to grab onto, be a part of and believe in. That can often be one of the most powerful magnets you can use with employees.

Put Your Employees’ Success on Par with Yours        

Talk to your SunTrust Relationship Manager about how SunTrust can help boost your employees’ financial well-being and make your company a magnet for high performers.

Accounting Principals & Ajilon Research & Insights, Ajilon and Accounting Principals, May, 2018, accessed 10/02/2019.

SunTrust Research with 516 businesses (annual revenue between $5 million and $250 million) conducted in Q1 2019.

Employee Retention Report, TINYpulse, 2018, accessed 10/02/2019.

The 9-Month Warning: Identifying Quitters before It's Too Late, Heartbeat by Peakon, 2019, accessed 10/02/2019.

Why do purpose-driven companies do better?, Peter Fisk, 2019, accessed 10/7/2019.

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