Finding and retaining good people

In the last 5 years of entrepreneurship, we have had 100% staff retention. This is my proudest achievement and not the million dollars revenue or profits we achieved.

Perhaps a main reason is the industry we are in, but here are some of my thoughts on what worked for us.

1. Reward your employees

While some companies put their customer first, for us it has always been about our employees. We believe that when our employees are happy and motivated, the customers will be too. It is a fundamental desire in everyone to be seen, valued, loved and appreciated. We reward our employees financially far more than the average industry standard, not in a bid to retain them, but because we believe in rewarding them fair value for their time and effort. When we have an increase in profitability, we increase salary. Expansion plans are not our employee’s concerns and we prioritise rewarding them first over any expansion. If we can’t afford to reward them and expand, we choose not to expand.

Rewards do not only need to be financial, they could be flexible working hours, less working hours, more leave, extra benefits or health care. The mistake a lot of companies make is using these non financial rewards as a way to structure a package that allows them to reduce labour cost. Employees aren’t stupid and will be able to tell if it’s a management squeeze or the change comes from a true concern for their needs.

2. Find the right fit

Over the years, we have had periods where we were short staffed because we were unable to find the right fit. While many would have been willing to hire just to fill the gap, it was something we decided we would not do. Hiring the wrong fit result in brand dilution and poor team morale. Having to let someone go is a miserable experience for the management, the employee and the rest of the team that remains.

3. Be flexible and support their dreams

We maintain flexibility for all our employees and accomodate them as much as the business structure allows us to.

The crux is that our employees understand that we appreciate and treasure their contributions they make as individuals and not just as employees. In many companies, employees are often afraid to share their external passions for fear of these passions being viewed as distractions.

An interesting outcome we have experienced is that supporting their passions has also benefitted us. Finding the right fit means that often our employees side hustle are often synergistic to our business and supporting them has allowed the business to grow horizontally and vertically across our industry.

4. Approachable leadership and a no blame culture

As our company got bigger, roles become more specialized and we realized that management may lose touch with what is happening on the ground. That has often been the downfall of many good companies and to circumvent the problem, we intentionally create time in our work day to meet with different roles to understand the challenges they face. To encourage open dialogue, we adopted a no blame culture, and are solution, instead of problem, oriented. These approaches were done to help scale and grow our business, but has also had the effect of helping us retain our employees.

In summary, it is about treating people the way you want to be treated. It is about valuing your employees and viewing them as equal stakeholders in our entrepreneurial journey. Having a strong and loyal team has allowed our business to flourish as we are able to devote resources, that would have otherwise been spent on hiring and training, on growth and development.

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