Let's face it the economy has been bad for several years and there appears to be no clear end in sight. Companies continue to struggle and consequently they cut one of their biggest expenses, namely payroll.

Many workers have been out of a job for so long they are no longer looking. A good number of these people are starting their own business.

Employees continue to quit in favor of having a more rewarding life. It may be to spend more time with loved ones, or to pursue a passion or tick off items on their "bucket list."

So what can your business do to retain the best and most productive employees? To get to that answer, a business needs to know what employees want.

Here are a few of the things employees value most:

1.) Career advancement with commensurate pay raise

2.) A fair salary

3.) An opportunity to contribute to the company and be recognized and valued

4.) Benefits, most important of which is affordable health insurance

5.) Flexible work schedules

Companies go to great lengths to interview and hire the best employee for the position. So keeping them should be a high priority, that unfortunately most business lose sight of.

Employee retention begins from the time a potential hire is interviewed. Taking the extra time and effort to make sure the employee is a good fit increases the likelihood of that employee being a long-term player, giving the company a good return on their initial investment.

Good orientation sets the employee on the right track. Solid training at the beginning and on an ongoing basis help employees grow and keep their skill set at peak levels.

Fair pay and solid benefits are critical to satisfying 2 of the biggest concerns most employees have. The better the company does at providing these, the higher employee retention. Two of the top benefits are health insurance and retirement plans such as 401K with company match.

Communication is key in any organization. Employees need to know how a company is doing, and what its future plans are. Most especially during tough economic times when they might be unsure as to potential layoffs that may directly affect them.

So begin by doing a comprehensive job of the interview and hire process. Then know, listen to and understand employee concerns. Make them feel they are a key component in the business success.

John is the founder and CEO of BSCN, a global network of certified and experienced coaches helping individuals and organizations with leadership business development and career transitions. BSCN Coaches have served some of the worlds best-known organizations to move forward.