When you start your own business, your approach to hiring staff may consist of just picking those capable of coping with an increasing workload, resulting in a patchwork of skills and responsibilities. Yet to create a sustainable, well-organized company, it’s not enough to find skilled, capable employees – you also have to keep them. A recent study suggests that demonstrating to the staff in your firm that they are valued is a strong method of keeping retention rates high. This may seem intuitive, however, companies around the world fail to integrate and implement processes to recognize and reward staff.

The survey, from the American Psychological Association, found that feeling valued plays a major role in an employee’s decision to either stay with his or her current employer or seek out greener pastures. It can also have a positive effect on their mental and physical health, their motivation, job satisfaction and engagement. In contrast, half of the participants who felt undervalued reported that they would be searching for new employment opportunities within the next year.

What efforts or programs do you have in place to promote employee engagement and remind staff that their position in the company matters and contributes to its overall success? Is the work environment in your firm a positive one, or does it seem as if everyone is stressed and unhappy? Have you taken the time to gauge general employee sentiment? Do you meet with your employees one-on-one to discuss performance, challenges and opportunities? A coach can help you draw up a business strategy that includes new ways of managing your resources, employees included.

“Successful organizations have learned that high performance and sustainable results require attention to the relationships among employee, organization, customer and community,” comments David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, head of APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program. If employees feel valued, they can help improve bottom-line results, he added.

According to the study, 41 percent of workers said they are stressed or tense at work, due to having too much work, long hours, low salaries or a sense that there is no room for professional growth. Not having a clear understanding of what they are expected to do is another cause of stress and dissatisfaction at work, respondents said.

Part of designing your business plan requires establishing a clear distinction between various roles in the firm, as well as drawing obvious relationships between each position. This is also the time to determine exactly what role you as the business builder play – are you in the trenches with the rest of the staff, or do you stand back to create the long-term strategy that will help everyone perform to their greatest potential?

As you reflect upon your current organizational structure, pay close attention to the way each position at the firm meshes with the others. If it seems that employees are not as effective or happy as they once were, it may be time to sit down and redefine the roles that everyone plays, ensuring that the puzzle pieces fit together to create a unified picture of the firm.