Have you followed our tips for scaling the people process? If so, you’ve likely successfully attracted and hired the right talent. Congrats! But, now you need to keep up your end of the bargain so that they want to stay on for the long term, ultimately by enabling them to grow professionally and powering them do their best work for your business.
No doubt that hiring is a huge challenge for all businesses, but if you are putting in the time, effort and money to recruit and hire, you must follow through and create an environment that new hires will want to be a part of and grow with. Creating this environment is an equally challenging feat for businesses.
Here are the 8 steps you should take to create a positive professional culture and environment:
Be transparent. We are huge believers in transparency as a founding value of all startups and small businesses. Startup work is hard work – by staying honest, preparing your team for the best or the worst, and keeping them up to date on the health of the business, you are ensuring that those folks will be able to endure the hard times. You should want a team that embraces the good and bad, and doesn’t leave when things get tough because they are unsure or skeptical. Being honest reduces confusion or doubt and creates a culture that promotes honesty, responsibility, teamwork, and accountability.
Stand by your business and your culture. As your team grows, your first employees interact with and impact new employees, and vice versa. Your culture should be dynamic and open to changes as new team members join, but you also need to create a framework for new and old employees to lean back on. To do this, sit down early on in the formation of your company (but it’s never too late to do this) and create values and expectations that you expect your business and your team to follow and map towards. Think about the type of culture that you want, including the type of people that will contribute to that culture, and hire for those people, while of course considering their skill set as it applies to the role.
Stay competitive. As a founder of an early stage or small company you want all employees to be just as passionate and driven as you. Your startup is only as strong as the team behind you. But even the most loyal and hard-working employees still have certain expectations when it comes to compensation, equity, benefits and perks. During the hiring process, you may have learned what your candidate required in these areas – but do you know what they require for retention? As your team grows, you especially need to conduct ongoing benchmarks with other similar size/stage startups to see where you stack up and where you fall short. Here is a helpful guide to help you create a competitive employee benefits package.
Encourage team camaraderie. According to CareerBuilder, 54% of workers say they like the people they work with, and yet LinkedIn claims that friendships in the workplace make them feel happy (57%), motivated (50%), and productive (39%). Your team is together day-in-and-day-out and getting along with one another is much less likely to distract them than it is to actually improve productivity and output. How can you encourage camaraderie? Creating a spot in the office where people can convene for lunch. Giving occasional lunch allowances for a monthly sit down team lunch. Quarterly outings to go bowling, attend a concert or comedy show. Even a simple Thursday happy hour in the office does the trick. Get creative and create a new tradition that your team will embrace and look forward to together.
Place a focus on training. First of all, you want to create a baseline of knowledge and expectations around how the business runs and what is expected from an organizational, department, and title level. If an employee comes on with little knowledge of a certain aspect of their role, help them learn so that they know what you expect from them regarding that responsibility. As your team grows, it’s also not a bad idea to run both onboarding and ongoing level-setting training sessions so that employees are always on the same page about their skillset and their goals. Every professional and businesses conducts tasks in different ways – training programs let you take the reins and let you teach each person what you expect. This includes leadership, too. You should not assume that every person on your leadership team knows how to manage – you need to train them to be coaches and mentors to properly mold the younger players.
Challenge each employee. According to another CareerBuilder survey, employees are less concerned with their job title, and more concerned with their ability to make a difference and be challenged. Every team member has tasks and to-do’s that might be considered tedious – make sure that your team also has the opportunity to be challenged and take on more difficult work so that they are always learning and growing.
Give them a voice. As this CIO article points out, there is nothing worse than getting an employee’s two-week notice, especially when you don’t even seeing it coming. If you’re a small team, better understanding where each employee stands can be as easy as setting up a weekly check in with the CEO, and definitely with their manager. As you grow there are other ideas and services available to help you poll staff, offer anonymous tips, questions and recommendations, and conduct ongoing meetings that address concerns about anything from perks to culture to operations to the health of the business. Openness and transparency should be a two-way street and your team should know that you want to hear from them first.
Account for work/life balance. Virgin Pulse claims that nearly 40% of employees say they wished their employer cared more about their work/life balance. Working for a startup or small business, it’s all hands on deck, all the time. While your team may have signed up for the vigorous startup life, it can also be easy for folks to burn out and ultimately be less productive because they are working 12 hour days without a break. Offering employees flexibility to handle their personal responsibilities, while still keeping high expectations for accountability of all goals and KPIs, can actually increase productivity. Look into practices and tools that foster collaboration and communication from anywhere, so teammates will feel less guilty about working remote if absolutely needed.
Scaling and hiring a team is tough but you can’t stop thinking about what people need to be happy after they are onboard. To build long-term success, you need to create a place where your individual team members will want to stay and grow professionally, as well. Need help with your retention strategies? We can help – check out all the ways we help businesses here.