Best Talent Acquisition and Retention Strategies for Startups

Updated on November 17, 2023
Srdjan Gombar

Written by

Srdjan Gombar

Best Talent Acquisition and Retention Strategies for Startups

Your employees are your business. They’re not a huge part of it or a key component; they’re the only thing that really matters. If every one of your employees left and got replaced by someone else, even under the same name, logo, and product, it would no longer be the same company.

This proves that attracting and keeping the right people makes all the difference in the world.

Still, why do some companies have better, more loyal employees? This can’t be just luck, can it? Of course not! Here are a few strategies that some of the most efficient businesses use to achieve that goal.

1. Make a great job description and stick to it

A wise man once said a relationship mustn’t be fair or functional. The same thing goes with an employee-employer relationship. As long as you’re honest and forthcoming from the start and they’re honest when agreeing to your terms, there’s nothing wrong with any kind of arrangement.

So, you need to start by making a great job description, not just for the job posting but to have in general.

The main reason why employees eventually feel like they’re being lied to is because they agree to one set of terms and duties, and they end up doing a lot of things that they never signed up for.

Some employers abuse this. During the hiring process, they say that you have your core duties and, if you ever want more money, you must sign up for more hours or responsibilities. Once you ask for an additional responsibility, they add the task and the idea that this was your core responsibility from the beginning.

More likely than not, they’ll just add this task to your pile without mentioning it. If this happens enough times, in a few years, you won’t be able to recognize your position. You’ll work more and take on more responsibilities, and your pay will remain the same.

This is why the first step in attracting the right talent lies in making a great (accurate) job description and sticking to it. Remember that you must research what this position normally entails and what it entails in other companies.

2. Carefully choose your candidates

Remember, as an employer, you’re in the position to choose. You’ll have a single opening in your company and many applicants willing to fill it. This means that the decision will be yours and you have to choose the right people for the job.

Some people are not a great cultural fit. This means that even if they perform admirably in this position, their dissatisfaction will grow, and they’ll look for a way out.

You must also be prepared because you can’t pick employees based on their resume or interview performance. It’s like in school; some people are just better at taking tests. Knowing how to make a resume is an art, and it can help inflate one’s image in the eyes of an employer; however, it’s the employer’s job to get to the bottom of things.

You need to look at how to see through the format, even though it can be quite telling. For instance, if their CV is not professional enough or if there are spelling and grammar errors, this speaks of the lack of commitment on their part.

So, as an interviewer and a recruiter, you need to learn how to see past this. Keep in mind that this is one of the main reasons why companies are hiring professional recruiters to handle the hiring process for them. Some even outsource to recruiting agencies.

Every great relationship depends on finding the right partner, and a work-related relationship isn’t any different.

3. Pay attention to the employee experience platform

What if you could get software to help you with onboarding, engagement, and communication? The people experience platform is a tool designed to do just that.

Many guides suggest that you just set up a “fair” enterprise and that everything should work out just fine. The problem is the fact that the term “fair” is a bit ambiguous, as well as the fact that people’s opinions, standards, and expectations change.

Someone who has just moved to your enterprise from a position that they were less satisfied with will have a stellar start. The same goes for people moving from a position that pays less or just starting their journey into the business world. However, mistaking their initial enthusiasm for the default state of things is a massive fallacy that may land you in trouble.

This is why having a platform that can inform you of these changes in real-time can make so much difference. This way, you can track their engagement and well-being over a longer period and get notified when it drops. This way, you can take action to remedy the situation since, contrary to popular belief, employee engagement does increase retention.

The biggest problem with employee dissatisfaction happens when it lasts for a prolonged time without anyone taking action. If an employer notices and takes action, this may be a greater boon in the eyes of an employee than if there was no problem to begin with. It shows your employees that they matter and that you’re paying attention.

4. Consider testing your employees

Sometimes, you can’t know if you and the employee in question will be a great match without testing it first. This is why you need some sort of a trial period.

An internship program, for instance, can be a great way to go around this. By establishing an internship program, you have a chance to bring in new employees and see how well they act under pressure.

Since they’re very young and this is one of their first jobs, there’s a higher chance they’ll develop loyalty toward your business. Sure, employees switch between jobs quite often, but leaving your first job is the hardest, so you may keep them the longest.

Another great idea is hiring temporary workers. Just think about hiring freelancers for gigs and establishing great contacts with them. Then, if some of them show exceptional performance, you can ask them to come in as full-time employees.

Of course, having so many employees with different statuses working for you simultaneously will be a challenge to manage. Fortunately, with the help of the best employee management software, it shouldn’t be that big of a challenge.

Remember that some people are freelancers because they like it that way, not because they can’t find full-time employment. They enjoy the life of digital nomadism and the freedom of gig economy. Therefore, don’t expect them to just leap on any offer you make. You might want to drive a bit harder bargain to win them over.

Lastly, you must remember that short-term and long-term employment are different. People will try with the right incentive over time, but the initial insecurity or enthusiasm may not translate to the long game.

5. Find out what they want

Your employees are there for their own goals, just like you are here for your own business. Therefore, you need to find what makes them tick.

Some people are just there for the paycheck. You recognize them by working either barely enough or almost enough. Their primary objective is to get as many work hours as possible and invest as little work as possible. They also aim to avoid taking risks and dread anything that could cause them to lose their job.

However, some of your employees are a bit more ambitious, but even here, it’s sometimes hard to find the right motivation. Some of your employees want to advance but not in their current posts. In this scenario, a lateral move may feel like a promotion.

The only way to figure this out is to talk to them. Ask them where they see themselves in the future. This may initially sound a bit generic, but it’s all about framing. Tell them you want to help set them on the path that will lead them to this goal. Here, a lateral move may feel like a promotion. By allowing them to learn a skill that will help them reach their future goal, you’ll have an easier job at keeping them for longer.

While asking this right away is a good idea, it’s also important to repeat this question from time to time. First, people change their minds. Second, as they get to trust you more and more, they’ll be more likely to really open up.

Understand that there’s only so much you can do

Just remember one thing: no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to keep everyone. There’s only so much they can advance (until they reach your position), and there’s only so much you can pay them before this payment model becomes unsustainable.

In other words, the most competent and ambitious of your employees won’t be there forever, but you can keep them for as long as possible. However, this starts with attracting the right talent and continues treating them right. It’s not as simple as it sounds, but it’s not impossible either.

Srdjan Gombar

Srdjan Gombar

Veteran content writer, published author, and amateur boxer. Srdjan is a Bachelor of Arts in English Language & Literature and is passionate about technology, pop culture, and self-improvement. His free time he spends reading, watching movies, and playing Super Mario Bros. with his son.

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