There are a lot of important things a startup leader needs to keep track of when their business is scaling up. Sales, marketing, production and other operational processes are all crucial for rapid growth, but don’t forget about the element that drives everything else: your people.
If you don’t focus on retention while scaling up, you run the risk of losing the team members who helped you get to this point in the first place. The high cost of turnover, including the time it takes to hire, onboard and train new employees, will likely set you back and hinder your growth, so make sure your team sticks around.
We asked members of Young Entrepreneur Council what it takes to keep your top talent around as you become a bigger, better company.
1. Spend Quality Time With Them
As your company grows, it is easy to focus on the new people coming in, depriving your loyal employees of quality time. The typical thought here is: “Well, they know what they are doing already, so they don’t need me.” That may be true, but they still want you. The best way to retain employees while scaling your company is to carve out some one-on-one time every month with each of your employees.
2. Listen And Implement
Find out what your employees like about working for your company and, more importantly, what they would like to see improved. Listen to them and actually implement their ideas. Keep up training — most industries evolve over time so your employees should be provided with the appropriate tools to keep up. Treat your employees with respect and show them that they are valued.
3. Offer Retention Bonuses
In industries where talent is in super high demand and job hopping is common, retention bonuses are an effective tool. These bonuses are paid for staying on board for a certain period of time and generally escalate for lengthier periods of time. For instance, offer $1,000 for one year, $2,000 on the second anniversary, etc.
4. Pay Special Attention to Those Who Have Been There Longer
Make sure to recognize the staff members who have been with you for a long time so they never feel unappreciated. People need to feel purpose about what they are doing. When management spends less time working with the veteran staff because they are too busy with new hires, you lose great employees. Spending time with your long-serving staff transfers their positive energy to your new employees.
5. Find Out Why They Stay
Make sure employees know what is expected of them and how they can grow as your company grows. Everyone is familiar with exit interviews, but few conduct stay interviews. Find out why employees who have been with you for awhile have stayed and use this information to improve employee retention. Losing employees on a regular basis costs you time and money, so get to the bottom of why people stay.
6. Reward the Best and Cut the Fat
When you see that your company is growing at a fast rate, you have to prepare your company for it. That means rewarding your best workers and letting go of the least productive. The money you’re paying the slacker will go further when given to the employee who’s already putting in 110%.
7. Set Very Clear Expectations
We have spent a great deal of time creating an employee handbook and fundamentals for our team members to follow. We set expectations upfront with our staff and make sure that they understand what our mission and vision is for the company.
8. Be Transparent And Provide Access to Support and Resources
As your company scales, it’s inevitable that you will face new challenges. It can be easy to lose sight of what’s really important: your team. To scale effectively, maintain a level of transparency and ensure your current employees have access to the support and resources required for achieving success.
9. Promote Internally
Try to promote internally as much as is relevant for your company. Take the time to look at the internal people first and see who is ready for more challenge and responsibility. It will help grow overall morale for people to know that you’ve taken the time and that growth and potential are possible.
10. Improve Your Employee Benefits Package
As your company matures, both early and later stage employees will appreciate more robust benefits like a 401(k) match, generous vacation policies, etc., especially as they compare your benefits package to those at similarly sized companies. Benefits are easier and more equitable to apply to your whole company than individual raises and will have a positive impact on morale and company culture.
11. Make Sure Your Vision Is Aligned With Theirs
The employees who are most likely to stay with you are the ones who share your values and vision for the business. Choosing the right people can help you grow faster and more smoothly as replacing key team members is time consuming. Take a little extra time in the screening and interview process so that you’re sure you find employees who are a perfect fit for your company.
12. Give Employees New Opportunities and Challenges as You Grow
As your company scales, it’s so important to keep employees engaged by informing them of where they fit in with progress and what the overall vision is, and by showing gratitude for their place and role within the company. It’s also necessary to show employees that they have room to grow by keeping them excited and challenged with interesting projects that aid in growth.
13. Foster an Open Relationship Between Managers and Employees
While there isn’t a single solution for employee retention as you grow, one important key is fostering an open relationship between manager and employee, or the departmental manager and their team. Having regular time out of the office is a good way to foster that direct and open dialogue so you or your managers can have a good pulse on issues that may arise.
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