Companies are working harder to keep good employees

The employment market is heating up, causing employers to start worrying about losing good talent, according to new research from PayScale, a firm that studies salaries and payroll. I personally am thrilled that the job market is getting better, and I'm laughing that employers are worried. I've been warning about this for years. 

You see, a lot of companies have been treating their employees terribly. It starts with the recruiting process, where they don't return phone callsask for 12 references, and subject people to multiple interviews. Then it moves on to low salariesno promotions, no pay increases, and treating employees terribly. And now that employees are starting to find other places to go, employers are worried.

They should be. This is good -- no, great news for job hunters and the currently employed alike. It finally means that employers are concerned not just about their bottom line today, but that they need their good employees in order to have a good bottom line tomorrow.

What is the good news here?

  • 60 percent of companies identified employee retention as a top concern, up from 28 percent in 2009
  • 54 percent of companies are planning on expanding their workforce in 2014
  • 90 percent of companies plan to give pay raises this year

So, good news for all.  If you're already employed, your chances of getting a raise this year are high, and if you're unemployed, with companies looking to hire, there will be more opportunities out there.

But what if you're a business owner and you can't afford to give raises, or, not yet, anyway -- but you don't want to lose your top talent? What can you do?

Start saying please and thank you. Yes, your mom was right, those were the magic words and employees will respond to your nice behavior. In fact, recognizing an employees' contributions to the office can go a long way towards making your company a positive place to be.

Offer low cost (to you) perks. You may not have money to offer daily lunch or on-site dry cleaning, but you can order a pizza now and then, make it clear that employees can go to a parent-teacher conference without penalty, and allow people to work from home when necessary (or the weather is bad). 

Allow your employees to learn new skills. You don't have to pay for formal training, just encourage training across jobs, growth projects, and allow people the room to fail a bit. Your employees will appreciate it.

If you're a good employee in a bad job, now is a good time to start looking for something new. Remember, don't quit until you have a formal offer letter and the background check has been completed, but, there's no point in staying with a bad employer if you don't have to.