Today’s employment market definitely favors the job seeker. As of July 2018, the U.S. unemployment rate is 3.9 percent, the lowest it has been in ten years. While this is great for the country’s economy, it is also a favorable environment for today’s employee. In April 2018, 3.4 million individuals voluntarily left their jobs, a number that has not been seen since the “dot-com boom” nearly 17 years ago.

Employees are feeling confident in the market, and are leaving current positions for greener pastures. One of the main reasons employees are deciding to depart is money. Workers who switched jobs in May saw a 3.8 percent increase in their pay. Workers are moving around, and are being rewarded with results.

One type of business community that has been impacted by this change is smaller companies. According to a CNBC and SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey, “Sixteen percent of small businesses say they’ve had open positions for at least three months, while 41 percent of companies with 50 employees or more say the same.” Some respondents said applicants cited low wages as a reason they would not fill roles. So, how do small business owners retain talent in an employment market that favors job seekers? Check out our tips for satisfying workers to keep them around.

Make Learning and Development a Priority

Today’s worker is not satisfied with just staying stagnant in what they know. Many of today’s employees want to “skill-up,” and learn how to do more things within their field. Some may even want to change departments altogether. It makes sense to offer opportunities for workers to participate in a training program or shadow someone in their department. According to data collected by Shift E-Learning, seven out of ten respondents said that training and development opportunities impacted their decision to stay with a company. So, providing chances for workers to add on to what they know is key.

Blend Company Needs with What Workers Want to Do

employee retentionNo one likes to feel unsatisfied at work. While “grunt work” and things that are not initially a part of a worker’s tasks may be necessary from time-to-time, this should not become a regular occurrence. If you are not sure, you should ask your workers about the type of tasks and projects that excite them. You should also search for ways in which you can give them more autonomy in their work day. Can you let them run a meeting? Are they ready to take on a role as a project leader? Find ways to bring the excitement back into the work they do while also getting company needs met. According to research by Gallup, when employees know and use their strengths, they are less likely to leave the company.

Create an Environment Where Career Advancement Occurs

The hierarchy of your company should promote advancement. Much like the last two entries, employees like to know they have an opportunity to advance in their career. According to Clear Company, 76 percent of employees are looking for career growth opportunities. While workers may be sensitive to salary, they are also impacted by not feeling as if they are moving through the ranks. The size and bureaucracy of larger companies make it challenging for them to offer up opportunities for career growth. However, as a small business owner, you may have the infrastructure to do this.

Foster Relationships

It may not seem like a strong draw for workers, but having relationships does strengthen the bond between employees and their place of work. According to a survey by Globoforce, nearly half of their respondents reported having three to five close friends and that this —as well as the celebration of life events —contributed to a sense of belonging at the company. An article by the Harvard Business Review revealed that workers who have “best friends” at work are seven times more likely to be engaged at their jobs. They are also more likely to be productive, stay in their positions, satisfied with their jobs. Look for ways to incorporate structured socializing and team building when possible.

Increase Their Salary

While this may be challenging to do for some companies, the numbers do not lie. Most of today’s workers are switching positions because they are looking for higher salaries. You may want to take a look at the types of raises you can institute to keep your employees satisfied. Structuring raises around the cost of living, merit, or length of service are all viable options and should depend on the company’s budget. However, today’s workers are keeping an eye on the amount of money they are making, and want to ensure they are getting what they are worth. Acknowledging this not only satisfies them but can also help them decide to stay.

Final Thoughts

Not too long ago, the market was in favor of the employers. Many employees decided to stick with jobs regardless of their salary or the environment, because finding another job was difficult. Today, the scales have tipped into their favor. Because this has not happened in the last 17 years, many companies are struggling to find a way to address this and retain good talent. The key is truly understanding what employers are looking for, and how your company can best provide that. You can compete with larger companies if you look at what you can offer and strategize to capitalize on it.