Retaining talent is of utmost importance to your organization’s growth. After you have invested in hiring and developing your people, you want them to stay and help your start-up take off!

Perhaps you can’t offer a great salary package, health insurance, pension, a company car etc. so what value will they derive so that they stay in your organization? Other than work experience and a salary, what can you offer your employees? What can you offer them that the big players can’t or don’t?

If retaining talent in your organisation is a serious problem, it is imperative to be open to change. Figure out why your employees are leaving, and discern what it is you need to change or implement in order to keep them. After all, why should you replace great talent when you can easily retain them instead? Here are our tips to help you attract and retain talent.


Value your team

  • Treat them well. Show them that you actually care about them. Ask them what would make their time there better, what do they need? How do they like to work? If it’s something you’re able to offer, then offer it! They will feel valued and trusted.
  • Empathise with your team. Working in start-ups generally comes with a lot of pressure and work-load. Have a good support system for your team to make sure they are not over-burdened and stressed. Care about the state of their mental health and general well-being. If they are taking on a lot of pressure and stress caused by work and there’s nothing or little you’re doing to support them, they can’t perform, and might eventually leave.
  • Are you recognising what your people contribute to your organisation? You should. Give your team a morale boost if they did a great job on a project, emphasise what an amazing job they did, what benefit it brought to the company and how it made you feel. Give credit where it’s due, show them they are a real asset to your organisation and they will, in turn, respond to you by staying and continuing their great work. And, if employees do overtime regularly, reward them with a day off.
  • Do ‘stay interviews’ in addition to ‘exit interviews’. If your people decide to leave, make time for a genuine exit interview and find out why by asking them if they had any expectations that weren’t met by the organisation. Is there anything you can do to change this? Otherwise, new hires will follow suit for the same reasons, and this adverse cycle will injure your employer brand. But you shouldn’t wait for someone to leave to find out how your company can improve. Talk to your best people and have regular conversations to find out any issues you are not aware of.

Avoid micro-managing and start trusting your people businessman-3036181_1920

  • This is crucial when you have a small office as start-ups often do: it’s easy for you to look over everyone’s shoulder. If you micro-manage your team, they will not only feel agitated, but they will believe that you don’t trust their capabilities, and nobody likes being seen as incompetent. Having autonomy and choices are a crucial psychological conditions for people to perform and stay. Trust that you hired the best talent (which you did!) and that they can handle it on their own, and you’re there for them should they need your help. This will also give you the chance to be more creative with your own time where you can find ways to innovate your company, for example, as you now have more time to do so.

Create opportunities which nurture their passions and strengths

  • Creating opportunities for growth will develop your team’s skills and fuel their passions. For example, if you notice an employee taking time to get to know new interns and hires and exhibits coaching skills and leadership skills, utilise this talent by creating this as a new role for them. By doing this, you are recognising their talent and elevating their position within the company. Your employee may not get this opportunity (as fast) in a larger organisation.
  • Take them along to events, meetings, and other learning opportunities which will allow them to grow and integrate more within the company.

Make work a fun place to be

  • Get to know your team personally and build bonds to strengthen relationships with them by incorporating activities such as team building and out-of-office hangouts. You can discover new things about them you didn’t know before. Creating a fun work culture disrupts the rigidity and monotony of everyday tasks as it gives people something exciting and different to look forward to. These fun activities will correspondingly boost your team’s creativity which is vital in a start-up.

Untraditional working structure

  • Be mindful about what enables people’s performance rather than creating traditional office behaviours that do not boost productivity or creativity. Have flexible work hours, remove unnecessary ‘corporate policies’ such as dress codes (within the limits of the work you do). Casual dressing inspires creativity and recognises individuality. Read more about the science of creating productive workplaces
  • Create an office ambience that enhances people’s moods. Have plants and flowers in the office which according to Psychology Today, reduces stress, promotes productivity and raises job satisfaction! Read more about this here
  • Remote working spaces is a huge perk for people if your business is located within a large city with terrible traffic, like Nairobi, Mombasa, Kampala, Dar er Salaam etc. With no commuting hours, people can be more productive with those valuable hours instead of wasting their time in traffic. For a lot of Kenyans, a company’s proximity to their home is very important to them in choosing where they want to work. According to ConnectSolution’s Remote Collaborative Worker Survey, “77 percent of respondents reported greater productivity while working offsite”. If you want to attract resourceful employees be ready for them to value geographical flexibility.

Create a safety net and get your finger off the trigger rawpixel-658262-unsplash

  • If you fire people often and seemingly at random, people will think you don’t follow HR procedure, and it will also make you come across as unpredictable. Out of their concerns over job security, your people will start looking for a plan b. Clarify procedures in writing and follow them at all times.
  • Allow your team to grow and make a few mistakes. Mistakes do happen as after all, ‘mistakes are proof that you are trying’. Show your team there is a safety net for these times and they will not work in fear of being fired. They will be more forthcoming to you with their ideas and their ineptitude in certain tasks when they are not in fear of being fired. This will create an open and honest working relationship between you as a manager and your employee. To learn more about how to get rid of fear in the office, read our blog here

Get in touch with us, we would love to know about your experiences in applying these tips in your company! Contact us to find out how our innovative tools and approaches can boost your organization’s human capital.

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