Smart entrepreneurs hire the best people for their company, and they'll take time looking for the most qualified candidate. Saying, "I don't really care who we hire as long as the job is done" may work for some businesses in the short-term, but when an accumulation of under qualified employees takes its toll on the company, leaders have to go back to the drawing board to find the people who should have been hired at the beginning.
Once the dream team is in place, the next question is how to keep them from jumping ship to gain a higher salary. For bootstrapping startups and companies operating a on a lean budget, attracting and retaining top talent can be a challenge. The challenge doubles when you consider that many millennials expect to spend less than two years at a company.
Despite the stigma associated with job-hopping, its normalization offers advantages for tight-budget companies to woo employees with perks other than money. After all, the average commentary about millennials is that they're searching for purpose at work, not money, and that company culture takes priority in their job expectations. If you can't compete with the salary a giant corporation offers, there are straightforward steps you can take to keep employees excited about your business.
Make recognition routine.
I emphasize recognition often, and I encourage all of my employees to seek recognition for their accomplishments instead of waiting for someone to notice. I don't intend to nurture a team of insufferable boasters, but I know that praising an employee's work can change their day for the better, and repeated affirmations convince people that they are not only appreciated, but needed.
Once or twice a month, set aside part of a staff meeting to share praise your team has received from clients or praise for each other. Encourage everyone to email praise ahead of time to you or another staff member so that nothing is forgotten. Another great place to commend an employee is in a company-wide email celebrating their hire-date anniversary.
Be flexible with titles.
Contrary to popular belief, every millennial (and every human being from any generation) is different and has a different perspective on achievement. One of the areas where this is most evident to me is in job titles. While some of my most qualified employees would rather resign than be labeled "Associate" or "Junior," other equally capable employees couldn't care less, or would rather not have titles at all. Though it may seem unimportant, the way titles are assigned reflects the company's view of its employees and influences each person's view of their role.
At Greenleaf we strike a balance. Everyone has a title, but employees can adjust that title to fit the position. "Business Development Manager" can become "Manager of Strategic Partnerships" if the person thinks that's a more accurate description, though the change does need to stay within reason. "Junior Sales Rep" cannot become "Vice President in Charge of Sales" or "Grandmaster Coffee Brewer."
Promote horizontally rather than vertically.
If a company is working with a limited budget, there's a decent chance that it also has a limited number of openings, especially in senior leadership positions. Employees looking to bolster their resumes can be tempted to move to a larger company with more rungs to climb, so small companies have to be creative, flexible, and aware of employees' well-being in order to create opportunities to move in a new direction, not necessarily just upwards.
Establish one-on-one meetings with each of your employees, and keep track of how they're feeling in their current position and where they'd like to go in the future. If you have a designer who is bored creating the same product over and over again, collaborate with your teams to start design-heavy special projects. Find an IT role for your restless computer-whiz Office Administrator. Have each department take turns hosting a monthly lunch to explain their work so the entire company knows what possibilities exist. The time and effort you expend fostering opportunities for your qualified employees will be paid back in the time and effort you save by not recruiting and training new hires.
Hiring and maintaining the cream of the crop is no small task, and sometimes the bottom line is that someone has to move on. If you make consistent efforts to praise your employees for their work and give them the freedom to grow within your company, you'll see your turnover rate slow, and the morale and productivity of your staff will skyrocket.