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How to retain employees?

Manuel Joswig Aug 28, 2019

At a time of near-full employment, with a booming gig economy and a digital skill shortage, it’s harder than ever to cling onto talented people. Research from LinkedIn shows the average company loses nearly 11% of its workforce every year. Over 1 in 4 employees quits within the first 90 days.

Employers will naturally view these trends with apprehension. No matter how long a person has been with a company, their departure has the potential to cause turbulence. If someone new quits, it paints a picture of disharmony that destabilizes more established team members. If the resignee is a company veteran, they’ll leave with a vault of knowledge which will take months to replace.

For companies such as Joswig Solutions, the impact is doubly significant. We’re trying to carve a niche in the technology sector, where competition is at its fiercest. It’s seriously tough to find good people, so you need to hang on to them, particularly when you’re a remote company in a world which still values office-based security.

So we’ve put a dedicated staff retention system in place, drawing on the advantages of being a distributed company. The results are clear: most of our employees have been with the company for five years or more, more than double the average employee’s stay in top tech companies. None of the people who were with us when we became a fully remote company last spring have decided to quit. They’ve all supported our vision and bought a ticket for our journey.

Personal growth

Why are people so keen to stay? Well we pay a very good base salary, but we certainly don’t try to compete with the Googles, the Apples or the Facebooks. Thankfully, however, we’re living in an age where people are less money-motivated than their predecessors and we feel we’ve built a seriously competitive offering, full of additional benefits.

That doesn’t mean the ‘whacky’ gimmicks lots of other tech companies have gone for. They’ve installed all kinds of hipster accessories, from ping-pong tables to Arcade machines. But even when we had an office, we didn’t do that. If you go online and find out what today’s tech workers really think about such fads, you’ll understand why.

Instead of cheapening our employee experience with novelty distractions, we’ve given our team something they actually want: a personalized growth path which lets them develop within the company. We’ve read tons of research which emphasizes the importance of career paths, both in meeting the modern worker’s expectations and creating agility within the company.

So we sit down with each team member and map out what they want to achieve, as well as the amount of responsibility they’d like to assume. Some team members want to lead projects. Others, particularly those with young families, often want nothing more than to organize a talk or event. Whether someone wants a step up, or a step back, we try to make it happen.

We expect everyone to react positively to this structure. If an urgent email comes in from a client, we expect someone to jump on it even if it’s not their direct contact. But we also reward our team by letting them know we trust them. Each member is given the right to work flexible hours and take as much holiday as they want. If they fancy a holiday and it won’t disadvantage our clients, then it’s ok for us. If they come up with an idea for a great piece of software, we’re happy to let them build it on work time.

Giving more responsibility

A lot has been written about the ‘bossless workplace’, the growing shift towards flexible environments built on self-responsibility. We don’t think it’s quite as exaggerated as some suggest – you’re always going to need leaders to preserve the organization’s values – but we’ve definitely strived to build a fluid, flexible structure which allows people to own their ideas.

At Joswig Solutions, each member is given the right to work flexible hours and take as much holiday as they want. If they fancy a holiday and it won’t disadvantage our clients, then it’s ok for us. If they come up with an idea for a great piece of software, we’re happy to let them build it on work time.

Our culture of trust has played a massive role in retaining our people. Studies have found that a majority of employees identify trust as a key factor when they’re weighing up whether to quit a company, and Joswig Solution is proof of that correlation. The evidence also suggests that workers who are treated like adults are more likely to go the extra mile for their company and act as an ambassador, creating a vibrant atmosphere which everyone wants to be part of.

Bringing everyone together

Given that we work remotely across several different countries, sustaining this community atmosphere carries obvious challenges. But we’ve got dedicated Slack groups to chat during the day, and we actively encourage our team to plan trips on their own and visit each other, wherever they are in the world.

To back this up, we hold at least one workation per year. As well as being a reward for our team (we hold the workations in fun, exotic destinations and it’s all fully paid), these trips reinforce our identity. We started out as a group of friends who wanted to work together, and, if we want to retain our people, we need to keep that spirit burning.

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Manuel Joswig (Managing Director)

I am passionate about the web and its always improving technologies. At Joswig Solutions, me and my team design digital solutions for traditional businesses to bring their products and services online.