Startup Guide to Employee Retention

Team meeting in a modern office.

Every company is only as good as the people that it employs. The difficult part for startup owners who have gone to great lengths to attract top talent to their company, though, is that convincing employees to stick around for the long-term is often easier said than done. At a time when the average person changes jobs every 4.2 years, according to a 2020 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employee retention is now more challenging than ever before. 

With that said, there are plenty of strategies that startup owners can employ to keep employees satisfied and committed to the cause. In this startup guide to employee retention, we'll explore five such proven ways that you can boost retention at your startup company.

What Is Employee Retention?

Employee retention is defined as a company's ability to retain its employees. It's expressed as a figure that shows the percentage of employees who remained with the company for a set period of time, and it is a point of data that speaks to the efforts a company is taking to keep its employees satisfied. 

Effective Employee Retention Strategies

There are plenty of ways that companies can go about increasing employee satisfaction (and thus employee retention) aside from simply offering higher pay. While offering competitive wages is certainly one key part of employee retention, ensuring an enjoyable work environment where employees feel appreciated and part of something bigger is equally important. With that in mind, here are five effective employee retention strategies that, best of all, won't cost your startup a dime.

1. Acknowledge Achievements

No one likes to feel as if their efforts are going unnoticed. Even if it's something as simple as a pat on the back and a few words of appreciation, it is important to acknowledge employee achievements. 

Don't be afraid to go even further to let your employees know that their hard work is appreciated. Awards and formal recognitions can mean a lot to a person who deserves them, even if they don't have any monetary value. Whatever ways to devise to recognize employee achievements — whether off-the-cuff and casual or formal and elaborate — making your employees feel appreciated and important to the company is something that is guaranteed to make them more likely to stick around.

2. Offer Constructive Feedback

Any employee worth wanting to keep in the first place is going to be one that is always looking for opportunities to learn and improve. In addition to being an important part of improving their performance, providing employees with these opportunities in the form of constructive feedback is key to increasing employee satisfaction. 

If you aren't giving your employees feedback, they're going to get the sense that you don't care about them. They also aren't likely to see as much potential for advancement since they are not being given any opportunities to grow and improve. It's important, therefore, to always be generous with constructive feedback and seek out chances to help your employees hone their skills and performance.

3. Praise Employees Openly

Going back to the importance of acknowledging employee achievements, praising employees openly is a great way to leave no doubt in an employee's mind that their achievements have been noticed. When you praise employees in front of their peers, you're giving them both recognition from yourself and recognition from their colleagues. So instead of calling an employee into your office to acknowledge their achievement, make a public announcement out of it instead. 

It is, however, important to note that this advice does not hold true for every employee. There are those who cringe at the idea of public praise and attention, and it'll be your job as a good boss to know when it will be appreciated and when it will not.

4. Allow Space for Creativity and Suggestions

It's important to recognize your employees' hard work and dedication, but it's also important to recognize their ideas and suggestions. No one wants to feel like a cog in the machine where only their manual efforts are valued and their thoughts go unheard. If you want your employees to really feel valued, you need to provide them space for creativity and suggestions. 

The benefits of encouraging creativity and suggestions from your employees go beyond just boosting employee retention alone. Listening to suggestions from employees can be a great way to improve the company in ways you might have never imagined while allowing employees room for creativity can lead to new innovations and better ways to get things done.

5. Celebrate Milestones Together

If your startup reaches a milestone worth celebrating, it is just as much the accomplishment of your employees as it is your own. These milestones should therefore be celebrated together as a company whenever you have the chance. 

Celebrating milestones together creates a sense of greater purpose and makes employees feel like an important part of that purpose. If you want your employees to feel like valued members of your team, it's important to include them in the celebrations when that team generates a victory.

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