Time & Attendance
By Rachel Ernst
May. 5, 2017
Startups are notorious for having a high attrition rate, and HR is tasked with difficult job of retaining and engaging existing employees.
Despite their best efforts, attrition continues.
The repetitive cycle reminds me of Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”
What if we thought about retention differently? What if we said, “Let’s accept and work with attrition rather than against it?” To do that, we must first understand what causes turnover in startups.
In my experience, the cause is due to two key factors: the profile of people who are attracted to work at startups, and evolution of that profile as the company grows.
The profile of candidates who flock to startups tend to be more risk-tolerant professionals interested in making a big impact, and they’re focused on growing quickly. Because successful startups go through various phases of growth, the type of person interested in contributing at one stage is different from the one attracted to the next stage.
For example, at an earlier stage, a startup will typically attract highly creative, strategic, future-oriented thinkers who defy boundaries. As it grows in number of employees, processes are needed to help create structure, which changes the kind of work needed, hence changing the candidates the company attracts.
It is up to HR to understand this evolution and work with the reality rather than against it. Working to “prevent” turnover is virtually impossible, and leads only to great frustration and wasted resources. Instead, here are three strategies to work with the reality we live in:
The purpose here is not to say that engaging employees and ensuring overall employee health and happiness isn’t important. In fact, it is extremely important. However, at the pace that startups grow, the reality is that different people are attracted to, and do their best in, different stages. So, instead of wringing our hands over attrition and trying to coerce everyone to stay, let’s capitalize on the fact that each individual performs differently depending on the situation by changing how we attract and develop talent each step of the way.
Rachel Ernst is the head of employee success at Reflektive. Comment below or email email@example.com.
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