Finding top talent isn’t easy, nor is it cheap. Small businesses are especially at a disadvantage when it comes to recruiting employees because they may not have the funds to spend on attracting top talent to their firms.

And once great employees have been hired, retaining them becomes equally challenging. Larger companies are able to offer better benefits and higher wages, so how can small businesses compete? One thing that smaller organizations can do is support employees in their career goals. This approach, however, must be done strategically and intelligently. Here’s what it looks like in action.

Start with people analytics

People analytics is a hot buzzword in the HR industry today. With big-time corporations like Google and Amazon deploying people analytics initiatives, more companies are becoming aware of this trend and how they can implement it in their businesses.

People analytics involves taking data about your team members and using it to better the workplace. The data can be used for small tasks, such as deciding which types of coffee or snacks make employees the happiest, and bigger tasks, such as developing training programs and improving retention rates.

When it comes to supporting your employees’ career planning efforts, using their personal data can help you find out where they’re thriving or struggling, as well as where they aspire to be in their professional lives. The more you know this information, the easier it becomes to develop programs that can help your team members get closer to achieving their personal goals.

The biggest challenge with people analytics isn’t pulling out the information that can be used to help team members grow; the biggest challenge is obtaining enough quality data that you can use to detect patterns among your team members and ideal recruits. And with the increase in data privacy measures, this challenge doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon, so you’ll need to get creative in how you ask for information.

Amazon, for example, uses a program called Amazon Connections, which asks employees a question every morning when they arrive at work. In doing so, the company gathers information directly from people and is able to build up its database on a daily basis. Small businesses can follow suit and ask employees questions about their jobs and future ambitions.

Other Articles From AllBusiness.com:

Show you’re listening to employees’ needs

It’s not enough to simply gather data and ask questions. You must then take the information you’ve collected and act upon it to show your team that your listening.

One way to do this is by scheduling employee one-on-one time into your calendar every month. By doing this, you can keep a pulse on what your employees want—from the company and for themselves. For example, a manager might think that a team member wants to travel and see the world more, but in reality, the team member wants to have a more flexible schedule to be with her children.

Even if you cannot do everything to help your team members with their career planning efforts, small steps in the right direction can speak volumes about your commitment to their personal success.

Actively search for areas where employees can skill up

Don’t leave the onus on your employees to ask for help. Many team members don’t know what they’re looking for or what will leave them feeling fulfilled. As an employer, take a proactive stance in helping your team to level up. Invest in conferences for them to attend, or pay for specialized workshops that will strengthen their skills. In the end, your company will also benefit by having a more skilled team.

Are you listening?

When it comes down to it, listening to your team members is the primary way for you to develop a better understanding of their personal and professional career needs. You’ll get to know their goals and equip yourself with ways to help them achieve their individual goals.

Whether you develop people analytics programs, or you simply start your day by asking each team member a question, gathering this information will allow you to better help your employees with their career efforts.

RELATED: 7 Ways to Keep Your Employees Happy (Without Breaking the Bank)

The post The Secret to Retaining Your Best Employees appeared first on AllBusiness.com

The post The Secret to Retaining Your Best Employees appeared first on AllBusiness.com. Click for more information about Jon Forknell.