How Startups Can Keep Great Employees in a Competitive Job Market

One in five workers plans to leave their job in 2016, according to a recent report from CareerBuild. This is a 5 percentage point increase on last year, and is even higher in the millennial demographic. 30 percent of employees aged 18 – 34 expect to have a new job by the end of the year.

A drop in unemployment levels in a stronger economy, means employers today can expect a rise in salaries and competing HR tactics in order to acquire and retain valuable employees. As a result today’s employee can afford to be a little more selective, as people search for greener pastures, and greater salaries.

Retaining startup employees is challenging but a must-do

Millennials are also reportedly particularly job restless, whilst criticized for a greater sense of self-worth, or even entitlement – this generation has also been celebrated for its “collective innovation and desire to work for something other than money,” the Atlantic reports. This latest set of additions to the workforce reportedly prioritize doing work they enjoy, and making a difference to society.

This is an important factor to remember this January, as many businesses conduct employee reviews, strategize annual goals, and young team members re-evaluate their positions. Armed with their latest bonus, and the temptation of an increased selection of job openings, many will unavoidably set their sights on new companies, for a fresh start.

A startup offers the temptation of flexibility with responsibility, valuing personal creativity, and a team spirit that is sometimes lost in the world of big business and large corporations. Seduced by the rejection of the traditional corporate world, and the allure of the startup unknown startups can indeed be an attractive opportunity for new recruits. But how can these businesses compete with large corporations who can more easily provide job security, and transparent structures for career growth, to make sure once acquired these employees remain loyal to the business?

Four entrepreneurs share their top tips in ensuring employee satisfaction, in a volatile startup environment

Engaged employees are loyal to their companies

1. Hire for the long term

“We ensure staff retention by providing competitive salaries, as well as investing on the personal and professional growth of our employees. We also try to make our workspace a pleasant one by promoting a friendly and brotherly atmosphere . We listen to our employees and respect their opinions.This way, they engage with the company and are part of every milestone we reach. In a changeable working environment, we try to hire people that we believe they will stay for the long term. Those people tend to be young, passionate and have sense of responsibility.”

– Ali Benmoussa, Searchub

2. Engage and challenge

“For staff retention we engage and challenge each person, but not to the point of frustration or discouragement. We ensure each individual has access to all the resources available, for example admin tools, even though they may not require it. This will give a sense of trust and power to your team.”

– Jason Hamilton-Mascioli, Testlauncher

3. Provide a space for creativity

“We provide a lot of opportunity for folks to be creative. I’m supremely lucky to be working with a team of uber talented individuals. The more leeway I give them to be who they are, the higher levels of creativity we get in return. This is essential for our company.”

– John Lanza, Snigglezoo Entertainment

4. Get rid of the red tape

“As a startup you are in the unique position to provide employees with one of the most valuable benefits, something larger companies are not able to do. You can provide them the autonomy to innovate, without the burdens of red tape and bureaucracy. And as long as you are able to maintain that environment, your best people will become your most loyal people.”

– Jon Stolmeier, HappAppily

Takeaway: Hiring is expensive – make sure you do it right

Happy employees matter to a startup

The Huffington Post recently explored the most popular reasons that good employees leave their jobs. A crucial point that the piece highlights is the claim that “People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.” The piece cites overworked, unappreciated employees who are not rewarded, or cared for, as top reasons for abandonment. Hiring the right people, developing their skills and passions, and challenging them are important actions to consider when looking to improve retention.

The costs of hiring, onboarding and lost productivity and staff motivation have been estimated to cost an employer 1.5 – 2 times the annual salary, according to Deloitte’s HR guru, Josh Bersin. For a startup, where each individual is a somewhat larger and more pivotal cog in a new machine, losing your top employees can be crippling.

Whilst managers debate over issues such as stock options over quarterly bonuses, they need to remember that monetary gain is not the only motivation guiding employee career choice. A startup attracts a certain type of worker, and businesses need to play it smart to hold onto these valuable assets.