If you’re a small business, then you’re likely operating on a pretty tight budget. Consequently, you can’t offer your employees as much as you might want, financially speaking.

But that’s not to say you don’t have plenty of other things that make your company an appealing place to work. Like free food. And flexible work schedules.

But we know an endless supply of chocolate-covered pretzels and working in your pajamas will only keep employees around for so long. Curious about the best practices for retaining top talent on a tight budget, we ran a poll on our blog for four days, asking small businesses their thoughts on this.

Overwhelmingly, respondents said empowering their employees to make key decisions around the office is the best way to retain that talent.


With that in mind, we drummed up a few tips on how to ensure your top talent remains empowered (while snacking on free food around the office, of course):

1. Ask for their feedback (about you): Nothing empowers employees more than giving them carte blanche to tell their boss what’s working and what is not working for the team. Not only does it make them feel like their opinions count, but it makes them directly responsible for shaping workflows and team structure along the way.

2. Give them opportunities to lead: If you have an employee who can do something better than you can, then make them the go-to person on your team for that particular skill. Having a diverse team of recognized experts is a pretty sure way to succeed.

3. Don’t be a helicopter boss: This is my really nice way of saying back off. Nothing will deflate your most driven and talented workers more than your micromanaging, control-freak ways. Even if their process isn’t your process, you need to show your employees that you know they can accomplish things without your meddling in everything.

4. Develop their weaknesses: Don’t let your talented employees get comfortable with what they know. Give them stretch assignments that’ll keep them growing — and going.

5. Implement their crazy ideas: Plenty of bosses will ask their team for fresh ideas — and then reject all of those fresh ideas. That’s the exact opposite of empowering your employees. Schedule brainstorming sessions to inspire new and creative suggestions and ideas. And then commit to activating at least one or two of those suggestions, no matter how outlandish they might seem. Innovation and empowerment make a successful team.

Want to learn how to maintain a dynamic office culture? Download our free e-book and get tips from other small businesses.