We all know the old saying, "Good help is hard to find," but keeping top-notch employees can be even harder. Offers from competitors, the thought of going into business for themselves, and a host of other options are a constant temptation to even the most loyal employees. Larger companies counter with benefits like health insurance, retirement accounts, stock options, and performance bonuses, but these may be too expensive for a small business. Fortunately, I've found three other ways to retain key employees that just about any company can use. There's no magic formula, however: Unless you genuinely care about your employees, none of the following suggestions will have much value.

The work of one of our lead carpenters is so exemplary that customers go out of their way to tell us. One customer called him "an artist of woodwork"; another said he was "the god of carpentry"; We call him George. When we hear a good report about George from a customer, we make sure to tell him. Regardless of how many times...

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