As your startup begins to gain traction, you’ll need to hire more staff to handle the increased workload or expansion of services. This has a dramatic effect on small businesses: Going from, say, a staff of 10 to a staff of 30 may sound incremental, but you’ll quickly find that the processes you’ve used up until that point may not work as well. More decision makers and more chains of command mean more chances for confusion.
The change in culture can carry an additional cost: loss of long-time employees. It’s easy for someone to feel uneasy with big changes, especially if they’re no longer sure of their place in the company.
To help you keep your staff as you scale up your company, we asked 14 members from YEC for their best advice on retaining employees.
1. Conduct Surveys
We love surveys. In fact, we just recently surveyed our employees about their benefits and which ones they appreciate the most. This helps us know which benefits should be restructured and which ones we should keep offering because everyone loves them. It definitely makes the team feel involved, cared for and like they truly have a say in what benefits are offered to them.
2. Keep Employees Informed
To help retention, make your employees feel like they have a stake in the company. Keep them up to date on company updates, initiatives and successes, as you would with fellow C-suite members. Consider holding a monthly or quarterly business review online to make sure all employees understand the status of the organization, as well as the “bigger picture” projects and goals.
3. Have an Open Door Policy
One way to retain more employees in the workplace is to create an atmosphere that promotes expression. We have an open door policy where anyone, at any time, can come and get things off of their chest. By removing a lack of communication, you’ll better understand what’s really happening within your company and help keep your employees happy.
4. Prepare for the Development of Your High Performers
Continuously write down a list of your high performers and think through professional development opportunities, exposure to different lines of business and “stretch” creative assignments that are unrelated to their core tasks. All these things keep employees interested in what they’re doing. For those that push back on new opportunities or challenges, they might not be a good fit.
5. Promote Internal Bonding
Promoting and encouraging spontaneous conversations between coworkers about random (usually non-work-related) topics is beneficial to improving employee retention. Conversations like these can help synchronize your team, defuse messages and ideas across the organization, and can even jumpstart productive discussions. Not only that, but they also help build relationships within your team.
6. Ensure All Feedback Is Addressed
We provide a variety of avenues (surveys, one-on-ones, discussions, etc.) to encourage all team members to provide their input on areas for improvement and, perhaps most importantly, we make a concerted effort to ensure that all feedback is addressed whether we agree with it or not. It is of paramount importance for employees to know that their input is indeed heard; if not, they will stop offering it.
7. Formalize Perks
Add perks that you can now offer because you have a larger group, such as greater benefits, group activities and group discounts, as well as social events that bring everyone together. You can formalize this with a quarterly plan and accommodate it in the budget.
8. Focus on Building a Team
Focus on building your team, rather than finding employees. My co-founder and I make time to interview every potential employee to make sure they will fit with our company culture. If you build a team of people who enjoy working together, they are more likely to want to stay. It is easier to teach an employee skills than it is to make a talented employee fit into your culture.
9. Offer Them the Chance to Guide Their Own Growth
I hired my people to do things I couldn’t, so it only stands to reason that they would understand some things better about their roles than I do. I retain my better people by giving them flexibility as they continue at the company. They get a say in their direction, so it’s hard for a competitor to make them a better offer on interesting work.
10. Create an Ownership Culture
Use open-book management and empower employees to become an integral part of company success. Let them make decisions that directly contribute to a company’s business goals and incentivize them likewise.
11. Reward Long-Time Employees
Employees like to be valued, so I think it’s important to implement rewards for long-time employees, such as consistent pay raises, more vacation time or perks that new employees don’t get right off the bat.
– Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR
12. Talk About Change Before It Happens
Both early and recent employees can often become misaligned with the company when they feel taken aback by change. It should be clearly communicated to everyone in advance that as the company grows, not everything will be the same as when they started. This understanding will keep people open-minded and even result in great suggestions on how to change in a way that doesn’t alienate your team.
13. Spend Time Talking With Employees
The bigger your company grows, the less time you will have to speak with your employees individually. Make more time to build relationships with your employees and you will reduce turnover. People like to be cared for and if they see that the boss actually takes the time to speak with them, they will take notice. Not a lot of companies show interest in spending that time and people will value it.
14. Build an Organizational Structure
After a few unexpected employee departures last year, our leadership team focused on building an organizational structure. This included outlining our core values, creating monthly goals for each employee and understanding who is accountable for every critical function. In the end, it’s helped every member understand who we are and the direction we’re headed in.
Keep Employees Longer with a Better Business Model
Now that you’ve learned some of the best ways to keep your employees happy and continuing to work with your company, it’s also important to think about how you can grow and scale your business in the long run. Most employees will want to work with a company that is not only rewarding for them and a fun place to be, but also one that is growing in size and profitability in the process.