Q: Given the high demand for skilled tradespeople and their lack of availability, I'm seeing more and more pilfering of employees from one company by another. Fortunately, I've managed to hold onto the employees I value most, but what can I do to keep it that way?

A: First, if you have managed to keep your workforce intact given the intense competition for skilled employees, you must be doing something right. Congratulations! You can, however, bolster your position and further retain employees by:

  • Being careful not to make assumptions about your staff or what goes into the work they do. For example, you may have a fantastic trim carpenter whose work your customers love, but do you know what extra lengths he goes to to make sure customers are happy? You see, it's OK for your customer to assume what he does about the service he is getting; he expects quality work from your company. However, you, respectfully, cannot make assumptions about the extra effort your trim carpenter puts in to make his craftsmanship so special.
  • Acknowledging your employees. Tell them when they are doing a great job. Acknowledgement will go further in inspiring more loyalty to you and your product than any raise or bonus ever will.
  • Making sure you are compensating employees not only fairly, but at the top of the scale. When someone is feeling under-appreciated or unacknowledged, money can be a big influence. You want to do your best to keep money out of the equation.
  • Finally, mixing in the Golden Rule doesn't hurt either: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. —Clay Nelson is a business coach to contractors nationwide, www.claynelsonlifebalance.com.