Employee retention

How to enhance employee retention as a scale-up?

The war for talent is back in full force, pushing organizations to do their very best to attract and retain top talent.

In the USA, this period is called 'The Great Resignation' or 'The Big Quit', and the trend does not seem to be slowing down any time soon. Studies reveal that 4 out of 10 employees are currently considering changing jobs.

What is at risk when losing an employee?

Of course, you only want to keep motivated and talented people on board. But when a talented employee leaves the organization, this goes far beyond the temporary disruption of your business.

Replacing talent is extremely costly. Next to this, when your turnover is too high, it affects the general team vibe and can have a negative impact on others. When someone leaves, the pressure on the remaining team members increases and leads to higher levels of stress. This way, your organization risks ending up in a negative spiral.

How to increase staff retention: some strategies

We think you are convinced by now that it's important to retain your staff. But how?

Take a closer look at some of the strategies below:

  • Invest In employees' careers
  • Focus on your managers and their leadership
  • Recognize employees' contributions
  • Reevaluate your compensation and benefits package.
  • Prioritize Work-Life Balance
  • Offer stock options
  • Improve Organizational Culture

Invest in the careers of your staff

According to a recent LinkedIn study, 94% of the current workforce says to be willing to stay at their current employer if the latter invests in their development. So try to think of interesting mentorship programs or specific trainings to tap into this desire of reskilling and upskilling of your team.

It is a common strategy for organizations offering top notch education to include an education clause in the contract: people who leave before a certain date need to reimburse (part of) the training costs. This strategy is rather short-term, but helps companies to maintain talents - at least for a while - and benefit from the training investment too.

Focus on your managers and their leadership

Do you know the quote 'People don't leave their job, they leave quit their boss'?

Building a relationship based on trust and mutual respect is key in your retention policy. Nobody was born a leader, but luckily, leadership programs are largely available. Be sure to train yourself, and to increase awareness with the key people in your organization.

As a scale-up, this part can be crucial when technical experts evolve towards leadership roles. They might be brilliant minds, but if they lack leadership or people management skills, they can do great harm to your company and have a negative impact on people's motivation and engagement.

Make sure to explicitly value your employees' contributions

Everybody likes to know that their work actually matters.

Don't forget to take time and celebrate successes with the team at times. This can go from a simple 'thank you' or 'well done' message to a party or another kind of incentive for the whole team.

Visible signs of recognition are generally highly appreciated by employees, also because this makes them aware that the senior leadership are conscious of their impact within the organization.

Reevaluate your compensation and benefits policy

Even though you can offer an exciting role in a scale-up environment, great employees won't work for peanuts.

Money is still an important driver and people tend to state that improving their financial situation is an important reason to consider other offers. Organizations that have a transparent and straightforward C&B policy seem to be appreciated by candidates. Next to this, it is evident that you need to benchmark your strategy to the industry and adapt if necessary. This will allow you to ensure a top package for a top performer.

In terms of benefits, depending on the country you are active in, health insurance or extended number of holidays can make all the difference. Creative examples are companies giving full freedom to their employees in deciding on their number of paid leave days. Flexible work was already an important retention driver before COVID, but has only increased in weight ever since.

Ensure a healthy work-life balance for your staff

This is not about offering flexible working hours or remote working options. It's about checking in with your team to know whether workload is not too high.

Because working from home can be great, but if people are expected to check their e-mails during the evening or in the weekend, this might have a negative impact on your retention strategy and people will consider leaving.

Assessing the cost of hiring extra staff against replacement costs can be effective to increase your own awareness.

Wellbeing programs within the organization become more and more common and can be of high added value for employees, especially if well communicated.

Offer stock options

One of the main drivers for employees to work at a scale-up, is the tangible impact they have on the company's growth. They contribute visibly to the company's success, and it can be highly rewarding for them to become a 'co-owner', even when holding a limited amount of stock options.

For the employer, on the other hand, it can also be interesting, as they can ask for a long-term engagement before cashing back the stock options. 

How to keep track of employee engagement?

The importance of working on your retention strategy can't be overrated. Because departures can have a dramatic impact on morale of the remaining staff. But how do you assess your risk of losing employees? Performing an in-depth employee engagement survey can be a solution.