How to Retain Talent as Your Startup Grows

07th Jan 2019
7 min read

You’ve gathered a solid workforce and have begun to build a growing business. You might have utilized or currently take advantage of a startup accelerator program that helps guide or even connect you with potential investors. Though, as you know, the work never stops. Among many other challenges and adventures, it will be necessary to retain and build on your talent in order to reap continued success. Marissa Mayer explains, “It’s about getting the best people, retaining them, nurturing a creative environment and helping to find a way to innovate.”

Robust talent retention strategies aid your continued innovation by helping to minimize the loss of valuable employees and the institutional knowledge they carry. They help avoid additional turnover costs pertaining to the time and resources used to locate and acquire new talent as well as in training new hires as they get brought up to speed. Beyond the income statement, turnover may affect employee morality, as it’s  also not fun to lose a team member with whom people enjoyed working. For those reasons, it’s important to maximize employee retention in order to build strong teams and an innovative business. Here are some strategies to help you do just this as your company continues to grow.

Maximize allocation

Continually investing in employees’ professional growth by finding where they best fit in your organization will help to ensure the maximization of their offerings. Allowing employees to both utilize and feel like they’re utilizing their skillset goes a long way toward keeping them happy and engaged. That will act as a force to satisfy employees while at the same time helping to ensure your organization takes fuller advantage of its skills and knowledge base. To go a step further, make sure you’re not only allowing employees to contribute their competitive advantages, but that you are also incentivizing them to continually augment their offering with new opportunities to both learn and improve their skill set.

talent retention should be a priority for any new founder

Talent retention for startups should be a top priority

Having chances to hone and offer their skills in new areas of the business will help keep employees fresh and engaged. Many of those opportunities can pop up naturally, so encourage your employees to seek them out as they become available. There’s a fine line between encouraging new adventures and adhering to routine tasks, and finding this balance may lie with the given individual.

That being said, you can still help employees find this happy medium by effectively relaying areas in which help may be needed, predicting a person’s aptitude for certain tasks based on what you know about them, and finally, making sure to encourage people to learn more while also making sure they contribute in meaningful ways. Effectively offering opportunities is thus a function of realizing competitive advantages and providing chances for employees to act on them within the realm of adhering to other expectations. In the long run, efforts should be made to continue aligning competitive advantages and interests with responsibilities and expectations.

Healthy feedback and communication

Communication and feedback serve as facilitators to many factors that impact retention. In order to keep your employees engaged, you must effectively distribute information to them as well as set up the appropriate underlying processes and infrastructure for free-flowing dialogue. That may consist of creating communication guidelines, implementing digital tools like Google Messenger, Slack or Podio, or simply holding regular check-ins or other informal meetings in order to keep parties up-to-date on new initiatives, project planning, expectations and performance assessments.

Millennial-heavy workplaces might especially consider the strategic use of such communication technologies. Oracle CEO Mark Hurd writes about how millennials demand “that the technology they use at work provides them with the same degree of social immersion, accessibility and collaboration as the technology they use in their personal lives.” Such chat apps, planning software or other digital interfaces may therefore offer opportunities for more efficient information distribution while also catering to employee preferences.

As with jumping on opportunities, the burden to communicate does not solely lie with you or other managers. Communication is a two-way street, and the employee must make their due effort in order to provide feedback or insight into their viewpoints. With this said, your willingness to mirror this, as well as the practices you put in place in order to distribute information, may impact that two-way communication. It can influence how employees perceive your efforts at top-down information distribution, and in turn, the reciprocal effort they may give.


It’s no surprise that engaging your employees will help to keep them on board. Employee engagement serves as an important factor in retention, and there are many variables that feed into it. After all, much of the already-discussed methodology assists with engaging talent almost as much as it does to retaining it, and the two outcomes do seem to correlate. With that said, there are also apps specifically focused on promoting employee engagement. They may utilize surveys, features allowing employee celebration or recognition or even gamified rewards.

Of course, when deciding to implement some form of engagement technology, it’s necessary to extrapolate how it may be perceived by the workforce as well as how your employees will specifically derive value from it. Keeping those two features in mind will help you find and implement a device that fits with your workforce to augment engagement as well as the underlying effects it has on retention.

Compensation and perks

There’s no getting around it; how you compensate employees for their work will impact retention, and several factors go into determining salaries and benefits. We cannot get into the specifics of those elements here, but we can emphasize the importance of providing reasonable accommodations on their behalf.

In the end, it’s helpful to critically assess whether you’re compensating employees for the marginal product they offer as well as to discern if it effectively incentivizes your workforce to operate at its capacity. Properly achieving this objective requires insight into employee needs and desires that is then lined up against employee contributions. Since some contributions may be easier to observe than others, efforts should be made to dig into the nuance of initiatives in order to realize what best defines output. Strategic use of software may help with both understanding employee needs and quantifying labor spent on current, visible production tasks as well as that spent on assessment, strategy, analysis or planning that may catalyze future production and success.

Human capital management software

HCM software platforms present powerful tools to assist in achieving desirable talent retention. Such software helps to keep employees updated and engaged by serving as an intuitive dashboard for onboarding, communicating tasks, responsibilities and strategic initiatives, among other information. Since HCM suites provide a means to centralize data on the workforce, they allow your company to produce insights that further enable educated decisions regarding allocation, compensation and talent management, with the ultimate goal of maximizing productivity and retention.

Contributor to Enlightened Digital, long-distance cyclist, and lifelong advocate for women in business from Philadelphia. Tech and business are my lifeblood, but I’m also a fanatic of brewpubs and just about every sports team in Philadelphia.

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