How to Keep Employees Happy in a Family-Owned Business

One of the most difficult challenges to tackle in a family-owned business is to keep employees happy in a family-owned business.  The reason is that there might be the perception that employees who are part of the ownership family will be given special treatment when jobs open up.  The important thing is to make sure that as an owner, you do the best you can to make sure that those feelings don’t arise in other employees.  One of the biggest risks of that line of thinking is that your talented employees will be constantly looking toward the exit if they feel that there are no opportunities for advancement within your company.

If you keep losing your most talented employees, it will not only be disruptive for your day-to-day business operations, but it can create a host of challenges in keeping your company stocked with talent.  That’s why it is important to do your best to keep your most talented employees in the fold. Let’s look at 3 ways to keep employees happy in a family-owned business.

Let Employees Know Where They Stand

It is important that all of your employees know where they stand; not only in the current environment, but also in the company’s plans for the future. This is important for any company, but it is magnified for a family-owned business. In that type of structure, it is critical that your talented employees know that there is a place for them in your company’s future, as well as opportunity for growth.

If you want your company to grow profitably, you need to keep as much talent around as possible. Obviously, talented employees are coveted in the business world, so you need to make sure that they don’t get lured away by a rival company.

Make it a point to discuss your employees’ future desires and how they may fit into your plans during annual or semi-annual performance reviews. In addition, try to make it clear while interviewing for job openings that there will be opportunities for growth. That of course assumes that it’s true. It is important in your efforts to bring talented employees into your business that they know there is room for promotion.  If there isn’t room for ample growth, then be up-front about it.

Don’t Create a Glass Ceiling

It’s one thing to talk the talk, but you need to walk the walk as well or your employees will see through it. That means that you can’t have any artificial glass ceilings in place for non-family employees. This will not only benefit your workers, but also your company as a whole.

Remember that if your family-owned business is going to stay strong for future generations, you need to keep plenty of talent in the fold and make sure that you don’t have anybody getting an important position that is not fully-qualified for that position.

If a family member is qualified for a job, it is certainly okay to give it to them; but you don’t want to be putting them in a position where they are in over their head and block other workers from that promotion as a result. That will breed resentment in the office and may lead to your most talented employees looking elsewhere.

Groom Family Members Before Big Promotions

If you do have an important position that you know is coming open and there is a family member that you would like to consider for the job, make sure that they are groomed for the position. Whether that means outside education or in-company training, it is important not only for the atmosphere in your family-owned business, but for your overall success.

If you have some lead-time, you may be able to spend months, if not years, grooming a family member to take over an important role in the company. If you execute your plan accordingly, they should be the most qualified candidate when the job comes open anyway. That should limit any reason for resentment from other employees who want the job.

Remember, running a business successfully does not need to be complicated.  Keep it simple!

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Manny Skivoflax LinkedIn