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People are the key to success in any organization. An organization may have the most advanced processes or innovative technology, but success will not happen without the right people to make it all work. Developing loyal and skilled employees does not happen on its own, and requires a collaborative effort between the employer and employee.

“Finding and retaining great employees is more important than ever in our improving economy. While business intelligence tools and resources are improving the way companies operate, they are only as good as the people who wield them. It is our responsibility at Alkar to connect companies with the right people,” said Kaleigh Heathcote, CSP, account executive at Alkar Human Resources in Napa.

From the bottom to the top, it’s important that every employee feel valued and appreciated for the work they do. If you’re worried your employees are feeling undervalued at work, here are four key areas worth considering.

1. Job satisfaction -– Have your employees take responsibility for developing ways to improve their respective areas, and empower them by providing opportunities to work together across teams. It’s important for both you and your employees to have a clear understanding of how their roles contribute to the overall objectives of the organization. Set quantifiable goals from which you and your employees can measure their success.

2. Be flexible — Research shows that when workers have more flexibility, they’re happier, better able to perform and more likely to stay at a job for longer periods. Not every job can be performed remotely from home, but may be permitted on an as-needed basis.

3. Develop a culture of trust –- Employees will seek your input to improve their performance if you have developed an atmosphere of trust. Try to spend one-on-one time with all of your employees on a regular basis, even if it’s a 15-minute coffee break once or twice a year. Just a small amount of time invested will help your employees feel valued, and it will give you greater insight into your employee culture and what you can be doing to improve employee retention.

4. Opportunities for learning—Encourage education. Even if you can’t afford to financially support employees who desire formal education, there are other ways to promote learning. For example, let your employees know about free seminars or trade groups that align to their skills sets. You can set a flexible work schedule that allows your employees to take classes.

Earlier in the week, Starbucks announced it will now cover four years of tuition instead of two. This program, in partnership with Arizona State University, offers all eligible full-time and part-time employees full tuition coverage for a four-year bachelor’s degree though ASU’s online degree program.

When you invest in your employees, you invest in the future of your company. The Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center offers business trainings and one-on-one assistance to support your business and local workforce. To find out more, go to or call, 707-256-7250.

Mary Cervantes is the business services director for Napa Valley College Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center. Reach her at 256-7253 or


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