MaRS Library Retaining top talent: Employee retention strategies for startups
Attracting top talent is challenging. Motivating talent is a fine art. Retaining talent can pose the ultimate challenge, especially for a startup. Effective employee retention requires planning and strategies.
Your startup’s attraction and motivation efforts will be lost unless you can retain your talent.
Have employee retention strategies in place from the start
Retaining talent requires that management be fair, balanced and open with everyone. This can be hard when your business goes through lean times. But employee retention strategies need to be in place well before any crisis arises, or they will lack lustre. This policy is particularly key in the technology industry, where innovation, consistency and longevity are imperative to stay ahead of the ever-evolving competition.
Employees or prospective hires are constantly attracted by new and exciting job opportunities. The best employees are always keeping their eyes and ears open, especially if they are bored or unhappy with their current situation.
With competition for talent in tech industries a constant, startups need an effective retention strategy to help ensure the future of their business.
Simple, cost-effective employee retention techniques for your startup
Your startup can implement simple and cost-effective ways to achieve immediate results:
- Communicate openly: Treat your talent like part of the team. This means you need to be as open as is practical to your startup’s situation. If genuine, openness will often be rewarded with loyalty
- Stay open to suggestions: A “my way or the highway”-attitude drives away talented employees. Remain open to suggestions, acknowledge good ideas and respect constructive feedback
- Be flexible within reason: Rigid rules and procedures also drive away talent. Being flexible means that you allow your people to solve problems in the way that they want
- Respect the work/life balance: Employees have a life outside of work. Respect that and permit them to deal with personal issues when they arise
- Consider your future leaders: Does your environment nurture Generation Y? Born in or after 1980, Generation Y tends to value work/life balance over money, has high expectations for career development, and demands collaboration and transparency
- Invest in your staff: Do so, and they will reciprocate. Good training and development programs reduce turnover and increase motivation
- Cultivate a positive corporate culture: Encourage collaborative and supportive relationships among your team, and build a culture that recognizes achievement. This can be a better predictor of job satisfaction than money
Your best employee retention strategy
Your best employee retention strategy is to build trust and respect before difficulties arise. Remember that the main attraction, motivation and retention factor is the creative environment that you establish.
Startup talent loves the challenge of a good problem and this will motivate them more than any monetary reward. Build an environment where the work is the reward and employees feel like they are part of something bigger.
Your retention strategies start at the top
To make these retention techniques successful, your startup’s leaders must not only show support for this strategy, but lead by example. Your leadership style and philosophy really do matter. They are integral to the success of motivated and focused employees.