How to keep hold of your early hires as you grow

February 2020

When you can’t offer huge pay packages, how can you make people stay? Here’s how to engage your workforce through the power of company culture. Hint: it’s got nothing to do with ping pong tables.

It’s generally more difficult for start-up and scale-up companies to retain staff. With uncertainties around cash and the future, you simply can’t pay people the amount they could get from a big corporate. But employee retention is about more than just the money.

People in the UK work an average of 3,515 full days in their lifetime. That’s a huge amount of time to feel stressed, anxious and outright frustrated. Younger, agile companies have an opportunity to tap into the flipside of working life to make their employees feel happy at work and engaged to stay.

So what are the main reasons for employees to stay at a start-up or scale-up company? Here’s what we’ve learned from our members:



A big part of staff retention is flexibility. With fewer rules and ingrained systems in place, you should be able to offer people the flexibility they need to fit work around their families, health and other commitments.

Some companies offer flexitime and others enable their staff to work from home. Being part of a co-working or flexible environment also gives people freedom throughout their workday as they can find spaces that work for them. They’re free to exercise, relax and take time for themselves, enabling them to build wellbeing into their daily working lives.

There’s no hard and fast rule about what works, so it’s usually best to find out what motivates your employees and work around it.


Reward for overtime

Less than half of people in a recent survey said they left work on time. And in London, the average worker spends an extra 10.6 hours a week plugging away.

There are times when your staff will need to work longer, or they may choose to in order to get the work done properly. But if you’re a founder or senior leader, it’s important to remember that they’re unlikely to share your level of commitment to the business, as the company’s long-term value has little impact on them personally.

If you’re not currently rewarding overtime, you’re in danger of leaving your staff feeling undervalued and frustrated. Have regular catch-ups with your team to find out how often they’re staying behind, and work with them to either reduce this time through prioritisation, or reward it. You might offer time off in lieu or find a way to minimise their workload. By showing appreciation for their time, you’ll help them feel valued.


Career progression opportunities

Start-ups and scale-ups have the advantage of freedom. Without rigid career progression structures in place, you can allow your employees to choose their own career paths, especially as your company grows.

Training is another key element of staff retention. A recent survey found that 58% of managers hadn’t received any management training, which could leave them feeling out of their depth and under-confident. By giving your employees the tools they need to succeed, they’re more likely to believe they can do well at your company and want to stay.

There are ways to make training cheaper. You could look at online courses or use the power of networking to offer your services in return for a round of training. Think outside the box when it comes to training and take time to listen to what your team truly needs.


The chance to make an impact

People with a drive to succeed will want their voice to be heard, which can be difficult in big companies where there’s lots of noise to cut through. A smaller, flexible business offers the chance for people to make an impact from day one, and this is truly where smaller businesses trump larger ones.

Foster this influential culture by getting your staff involved in decision-making processes. Ask for their input and ideas, especially when a decision affects their work or their team. You could also invite them to attend networking events and client meetings to show that you want them to be part of your growth story. Feeling like your voice is being heard is a great motivator.


The Fora difference

Our flexible workspaces are ideal for every type of business, but they offer exceptional value to high-growth companies. We boost your company culture by providing the comforts employees value, and we host networking events so you can be part of a wider community of like-minded people. Come and see us to learn more about how we can help your team thrive.