Forget perks and remote work – keep your pre-hire promises to retain key talent

While the recent job market has seen extensive tech layoffs, job openings continue to rise, with US employers adding 528,000 jobs last month. It is becoming more and more clear that the future of work is where talent retention is just as important as talent acquisition.

How are we currently responding to this problem?  Ensuring a remote-first flexible work environment reigns supreme as the key way to attract and retain top talent, despite current arguments bucking the trend. This, along with bonuses, stipends for supporting caregivers, a measured commitment to time off, and more access to mental health services act as truly great improvements to the employment cultural ecosystem.

However, simple yet powerful changes can happen within an organization during a new hire’s early tenure, and it doesn’t take much for these key internal behaviors to become drivers toward retention success. 

Keep the promises you made in the hiring process

The carefully-crafted day to day you’ve sold your new hire in the interview process is a social contract that you should intend to keep. 

Often during the recruitment process, it is common to throw around the phrase “you will have great opportunity for significant growth.” But more often than not, that growth can be stalled by urgent operational tasks and shifts in organizational needs. Suddenly, that beautiful picture you painted of the opportunities awaiting an employee when they accepted the role has disappeared before their eyes like a shredded Banksy. 

Document what was promised before your hire started, and actively communicate on a monthly and then quarterly basis where and why your company may have to deviate from the original plan. If your original commitments need to morph in timing or scope, the candor you show your employee will be like an airline pilot letting a passenger know there’s turbulence – better to know what might be going on, than be looking around for a flight attendant who’s nowhere to be found when you need them most. 

Define generalist and specialist roles clearly

If, in the original job description, you’ve outlined an employee’s role as an all-hands generalist and they’re hopping from social media maven to financial accountant, great! You’ve clearly set expectations, and your hire will be thrilled to lend a hand wherever is required. 

However, if your experienced specialists are being pulled in unfocused directions, you’ll end up with understandably unhappy employees on your hands. Retain great talent by defining job descriptions up front, and keeping close to the profile of the candidate that was listed in the role. 

Skilled generalists aren’t meant to be specialists and vice versa. Understand the difference between each profile, and do what you can to keep them in the role where they thrive. And if the organizational needs require some shapeshifting, defer to the rules above. Communicate actively to build trust. 

Use onboarding as an opportunity to stop bad organizational habits

Your organizational culture is a byproduct of your internal product (defined by our team as the tools and rules that make up the systems your people will be living in each day).

If you know that your process for managing payroll is awful, use a new hire as an opportunity to fix it. If you notice that the ways your team communicates affects morale, take time before you have someone else join you to work through these issues, brainstorm solutions, and collectively agree to bring better habits to your company. 

If your new employee feels like your company is a thoughtfully organized, well-oiled machine that cares about how its people are interacting and supporting each other, there’s no greater retention tool than that. 

Sometimes it takes less than the swing-for-the-fences, sweeping changes to keep employees engaged, happy, and strapped in for the ride. It’s the simple things like honoring your promises, championing the ways that people work best, and encouraging small but impactful professional moments that will get employees to stay put.

Does your organization make an effort to keep those pre-hire promises? Let us know your methods for retaining talent in the comments! If you want more tips for startups and generalists in your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter here!

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