“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first”. Simon Sinek
Having worked in startups for the last few years, there seems to be a common problem that cripples progress and growth — staff retention. Whether it be staff that like to bounce from one job to another to improve their skill set, or bosses that love saying “You’re Fired” (thanks Apprentice). It seems that most startup staff have suffered the consequences of staff retention in some form or another. It’s worse for the superstars out there who genuinely come to work everyday with a desire to achieve their potential, only to be stuck covering for a colleague who was fired, at a ’dental appointment’ aka interview or training another new intern.
“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” Stephen R.Covey
Fundamentally it comes down to three things: Value, Respect and Recognition. We all know the classic saying, “Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself”…well it really is that simple! Sadly there are a lot of bosses who get caught up in their own ‘brilliance’, often at the expense of the very people who have helped them achieve their goals in the first place. Did you know that 70% of employees who lack confidence in the abilities of senior leadership aren’t fully engaged (Dale Carnegie), and that one in two employees have left their job to get away from their manager at some point in their career. (State of the American Manager, Gallup, April 2015). Those are very worrying statistics when you consider that the majority of startups have lean teams, so even losing one team member can have devastating consequences.
“Start with good people, lay out the rules, communicate with your employees, motivate them and reward them. If you do all those things effectively, you can’t miss.” Lee Lacocca
When hiring a new team member, it is essential that you find out what they are looking for, what inspires them, and how they will fit in with the rest of the team. Take the time to consider what you can offer them in their career, how this role can develop them personally and professionally. This should be seen as important as what they bring to the table. The reality is you can always teach someone how to manage Adwords, but you can’t teach passion or motivation. I’ve highlighted 5 areas that help create a welcoming environment for new staff, and will not have them running for the door at the first sign of trouble.
87% of organizations cite culture and engagement as one of their top challenges, and 50% call the problem “very important.” (Global Human Capital Trends 2015, Deloitte, February 2015). It is essential that staff are working in a stress free environment, where they don’t feel they are being put under any unnecessary pressure. Make an effort to boost employee engagement, both professionally and personally. It is very easy to create team bonding work related activities, such as brainstorming and creativity sessions or perhaps encouraging your team to work together on certain projects to learn new skills.
When you invest in your employees, they will invest in you. Take the time to find out what their professional interests are, do some research and find some useful resources that will support their learning. Invite them to take time once a week to work on improving a particular skill, even an hour once a week to check out online training tutorials, or schedule a training session with a team member that they can learn from. Not only will that allow for a greater sense of team culture, but your team will see you are supporting their goals.
No one wants to work for a company where they feel their contributions are not being recognised. This seems to be a major de-motivator in many companies, particularly in startups. Often people are expected to burn the candle at both ends to meet expectations and don’t even get so much as an acknowledgement for their efforts. If you want people to go the extra mile, you need to show that their input is appreciated, whether you agree with their opinion or not. By allowing your team to collaborate in creativity sessions, it gives you a platform to demonstrate your appreciation, perhaps in the form of ordering lunch or providing some snacks. When you know your team has worked really hard on a particular project, why not let them go home an hour early on Friday.
Most employees are likely to stay longer in a job that impacts the lives of others. When a team feels like what they are doing will make a difference in the world, you create a sense of fulfillment. Even under pressure, just knowing that what you are doing is helping someone, can be enough to justify the extra effort.
Whilst a pay rise is always a nice gesture, money is not the key to rewarding staff. If an employee is not happy in their job, offering more money will not satisfy them in the long term. Growth in a company is one of the top reasons why people stay in their job. In many professions, employees are more likely to stay when they know there is an option for promotion or career development.
The underlying message is RESPECT. Treating an employee like they’re just another number, is not the way to keep them long term. By showing that you care about them, you will be amazed at just how much even a small team can achieve, when they want to help each other.