The Retention Problem: 5 Points on Keeping the Best Talent

A guest post by our friend Karim Gillani, Co-Founder of Deskribed

Getting the best people to join your team is hard enough. Keeping them onboard is a different ball game. The new age of startups and high-growth companies try to put a lot of effort into making sure their people stick around. Nowadays, having a foosball table is the norm, and it often sits next to the fully stocked kitchen of Coke, Oreos and Smarties.

Those little perks certainly help, but there’s more to it than just making sure there are eight different drink selections in the fridge. Here are five points to think about while maintaining your team:

1. People Like Working on Cool Stuff

Bragging rights are important. When people see a real impact that comes from their work, it makes them want to do more. When I was at BlackBerry, my biggest motivation was the fact that I got to work on huge deals that got airtime with the CEOs and made noise in the press. It felt good to strut and tell people “I worked on that!”

2. What’s Good for the Goose is Not Always Good for the Gander

One of the biggest problems in today’s work environment is that companies don’t pay attention to what individuals want out of their job. We know in aggregate what people want, but we don’t really know what Claire or Michael want specifically. We often put people into categories: three weeks vacation, gym membership, no bonus. If Michael would prefer a bonus check rather than an extra week of vacation, why not customize his package if it’ll make him feel good about working at your company?

This approach is easier to pull off with smaller teams, but it goes a long way to show that you care about each person’s needs. And, it’ll help you get to the core of what actually motivates your people.

Polar Mobile, for example, has done a great job of listening to their employees on an individual basis, particularly with respect to their roles. And when someone on the team is less than fully satisfied, CEO Kunal Gupta actively encourages (and helps) his people find something new that will resurface their passion, even if it means going external.

3. Keep Up with the Joneses

As you build and maintain your team, you also need to pay attention to the market place around you. All high-growth companies are looking for the top talent and very often they’re vying for the same people, especially in a market like Toronto. So it’s important to recognize what the other guys are doing to attract potential employees. You don’t need to copy, you just need to be aware, and figure out a way to be better.

4. Money Is Important

This isn’t universally true, but it’s certainly true for most cases. It’s hard to get Kobe Bryant on your team without putting some cash on the table. Great people cost money, especially if they’re in high demand. However, there is one exception: in some scenarios working on cool stuff (point #1) can trump the money. It’s something about inherent motivation, a lot like seeing your name written in lights…it’s priceless (to an extent).

5. Great People Like Working with Other Great People

If you follow points 1 through 4 and start building an amazing team that persists, you’ll find yourself attracting even more great people to join your team. Your company culture will begin to permeate, and like-minded individuals will start appearing on your doorstep. And if you pull it off correctly, they’ll want to stick around for the long haul.

Final Thoughts

Keeping the best of the best on your team is a long-term challenge. It’s a problem that sneaks up on you if you don’t pay attention. Make it a point to talk to your people on an individual basis regularly to make sure you’re doing what you can to keep them happy and fulfilled. And finally, make sure you pay your people well! If you don’t, someone else will.

About Deskribed

Deskribed is an up-and-coming Toronto startup focused on personalizing your career path, based on your specific job requirements. They deliver highly relevant job opportunities directly to your inbox, absolutely free.

For employers, it’s a tool to discover and contact the best talent in an efficient way. During the limited beta period, recruiters and employers can sign-up for free at | Facebook | Twitter

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