Tips to Retain Talent in the Startup Ecosystem
One of the biggest challenges faced by startups is that of talent retention
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India is on its journey towards becoming a global economic powerhouse and we are already seeing considerable progress on that front. The nation has become the 5th largest economy (in terms of Current US$), overtaking both France and UK in 2018, and long-term projections by Standard Chartered reveal that it could further become second largest economy (in terms of Purchasing Power Parity) by 2030.
This growth is naturally triggered by a number of factors including the evolving business landscape, improving infrastructure, growing digital penetration, and the sheer size of our market. India's startup ecosystem has also evolved brilliantly over the years and is emerging as a crucial pillar in India's global growth story. Today, our nation has successfully developed several globally-scalable startups and others are on verge of becoming the same.
However, one of the biggest challenges faced by startups is that of talent retention. So, if you are a budding entrepreneur or are closely associated with a startup, here are some tips that will help you retain your top talent and make the most out of India's growth story:
Be Upfront: Not many people know, but all startups face the possibility of going down (if things don't turn in their favour). Any high-potential talent would prefer not to be associated with a business that is meant to go down eventually. However, where a lot of startups make mistake is that they paint a flowery picture during recruitment and do not give their prospective employees enough room to consider the downsides. So, when their business meets strong headwinds, these talents are the first ones to abandon the sinking ship.
Make sure that you discuss the negative possibility with your prospective employees from the very beginning. Doing so will not only familiarize them with the negative possibility, but there's also a chance of getting a reply that "Don't worry, I'm aware and will try my best to never let that happen".
ESOPs and Cross-function Opportunities: You are most likely to lose talents if they don't develop a sense of belonging with your organization. This can be done by designating them on special projects and providing them with cross-functional working opportunities. ESOPs can further fuel your employees' sense of belonging. It helps them recognize the success of the startup as their own career objective.
Innovative Engagement: The true art of retention lies in how innovatively you engage your team, especially when you are running a startup. An initiative as ingenious as "workcation', or a tour-cum-vacation, can help you make wonders happen. Such initiatives directly increase your employee productivity, loyalty, and hence, retention. Some startups are today even helping their employees with their fitness goals using fitness trackers and in-house activities. This ensures a 360-degree involvement and engagement of employees across modern workplaces.
Work Culture: An organization's work culture plays the most dominant role in retention. This again needs to be done right from the early stage. You must look forward to developing a company culture that is in line with your core ideologies and objectives.
Individually assess every applicant vis-à-vis your workplace dynamics. Any working professional who's a cultural misfit – even if he or she is a high-performing individual – will continue to remain so and might even negatively affect operations. All you have to do is gauge individual capabilities as well as what roles and hierarchal structure work the best for your startup.
Personalization: Personalizing the work experience of employees is as imperative as personalizing the customer experiences. Different working professionals have different styles of functioning. You cannot expect optimal performance from them using a one-size-fits-all approach. Employees, especially high-performing personnel, must be offered their own creative space to achieve predetermined KRAs using their individual approach. It could include flexible working hours and the ability to remotely work. However, their performance must be constantly tracked to ensure that this creative space is not misused by them.
Talent well and truly becomes a game-changer in the market. Some startups have been able to cope with strong headwinds, including the unavailability of capital, just because of their talented employees stood with them when they were needed the most. All you need to do is follow these simple tips to make sure that your company stays ahead of the talent curve in the market.