Our latest guest blog from The Business Growth Hub’s Sarah Ludford focuses on finding the right talent for your business and keeping them.

When SMEs were struggling during the recent recession, CV’s filled the recruiting manager’s inbox. How things have changed. In this new period of economic recovery and business growth, there is a whole different problem on the business owner’s plate – how to retain the most talented employees, and keep them engaged.

For SMEs, it can be difficult attracting the best in the business and recruiting a valued employee can turn around the fortunes of a company with a small, compact workforce. But how does a SME encourage them to stay, rather than taking their talents elsewhere?

Well, there is probably a set of great reasons that your Golden Employee chose to apply to your business in the first place. But can you honestly say you understand their motivation and what keeps them loyal, productive and committed?

Are they looking for a path through the business, looking to take on more responsibility or perhaps looking to perform at a higher level? In a SME, it can be tough to meet these expectations, but by understanding the Golden Employee’s motivations, you’ll be a step closer to achieving this.

It’s not always about the money. Education is high on the list of retention tools that work and compensation can also focus on an employee’s skills and letting them explore areas of the business that are new to them. It is also good to explore additional benefits as an incentive to stay, even if some may cost the business money, such as healthcare, income insurance and death in service benefit.

But there are also options that will just cost you time. Many businesses would love to offer you a range of potential new employee benefits that will, in the long term, refer business back to them. Discounts on mobile phone contracts, holiday lets and financial advice are just some. With minimal effort, and just a little management, all these services and goods can be packaged into employee offers. Just post out on Facebook or Twitter, asking local businesses what they can offer your employees, and see how quickly you get responses.

In addition, when trying to understand what inspires your Golden Employee, it’s also worth considering options that are open to all, but tailored to the individual. If financial reward is not the main driver, then time off may be. How about the option to exchange their bonus for time away, or the possibility of unpaid leave? Variety and choice can be empowering for a workforce, whereas instilled benefits can feel inappropriate and impersonal, so think about offering a broad range of options. The wider the compensation benefits are, the more difficult it becomes for the Golden Employee to jump ship.

Of course, there will be issues around the payroll and administration. But recruiting new staff, or letting your Golden Employee slip through your fingers, can both be considerably more costly to the business.