Retaining Talent at Your Startup Isn’t About the Foosball Table

Regardless of where you live, finding and retaining talent for your early-stage startup is a constant challenge. With more companies popping up within your ecosystem there is always the possibility of other startups luring your talent away with more money, perks or something other than a foosball table. To keep your talent as secure as you can, I asked entrepreneurs, experts and influencers in the tech space what they recommend to retain talent at early-stage startups.

Provide a Clear Vision

When leadership can provide insight and direction to their vision goals, it can help the employee not only find purpose but can expand their creative thinking to help build the company.

“Leadership needs to provide a clear vision of why vs dictating a series of tasks to employees. People join startups to be a part of something greater and the vision is generally what drives the culture – which can make people stay, as well as the money.” – Donovan Sipe, industry expert

Hire Top Talent

When you are looking for people to take you to the next level, you can’t skimp on talent. Will it cost you more, yes. But you’ll be hiring people with skills and experience that can get your company to new heights and think more strategically about the steps to come.

“Secure best-in-class talent that has the experience in taking a startup to a Series B stage or to the finish line. There is simply no substitute for experience and been there, done that.” – Andrew Bart, venture capitalist and growth strategist

Read about company cultures attracting talent

Be Realistic

Founders typically want everything now and yesterday, especially when they have taken on money. However, to reach the next step, they need to be realistic with their team members and current capabilities on how they get there.

“Not setting unrealistic expectations, but being clear about the goal and the (un)likelihood of things happening exactly as expected or desired.” – Jonathan Cottrell, founder #yesphx and CEO Hopscotch

Appreciate Your Team

Too often, founders get in the weeds of building their company and forget to take time and appreciate those who are grinding it out everyday. To maintain your talent, acknowledging their effort can go a long way.

“Be kind, gracious and thank your team (often).” – Kevin J. Berk, Founder and CEO ServiceGuru

talent, team, work, coworkers

Be Transparent

Like children, employees will see right through your b.s. and it’s important to provide transparency in the good and bad times. This is especially important for the Millennials.

“Younger talent needs guidance so clarity of vision and mission, culture and values alignment, and transparency are all important.” – Patrick Armstrong, Partner Canal Partners

Create a Bond

Research has shown that the next generation of employee is going to join a company or startup because of their mission and culture. Once they are there, creating a good relationship with them will be key to retention.

“It really is all about culture and creating a bond between people. I’ve seen people stick with a company through the good and the bad because they are part of something bigger than themselves. If you make it about salary, stocks, and having a foosball table and private chef in the break room, people won’t make sacrifices.
“In some ways it goes back to what soldiers say about why they fight and sacrifice. It’s not for ideals or whatever their side is fighting for. They sacrifice for the other people in their unit.” – Eric Miller, Cofounder and Principal PADT

In the End…

I think this quote sums it up best for any founders, because if you are, you’ll be losing employees at lightening speed.

“Don’t be assholes.” – Dan Tynan, Editorial Consultant and Strategist and Award-Winning Writer

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Written by:
Tishin is a technology journalist and correspondent. She has written for TechCrunch, Demand Studios and Fitness, and has regular network segments on local Phoenix affiliate stations. She holds a Master's degree in Clinical and Sport psychology, and has covered many areas of technology ranging from 3D printing and game development to neurotech and funding for over 15 years.
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