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How To Retain Your Team in a Hot Job Market

It’s no secret we’re experiencing a massive, cross-industry shift in the United States job force. The sheer volume of hiring in the Bay Area is like nothing I’ve ever seen. I don’t know of a single company not having hiring difficulties right now. Companies that have never needed external agencies in the past are going external for help in finding talent.

Unprecedented statistics about labor market trends have employers and candidates alike raising eyebrows and considering next steps with care. Gallup research reports that 48% of employees are actively looking to make a change; Personio predicts around one in four employees will do so in the next six to twelve months. 

Behind the obvious challenges associated with bringing new hires on board, another challenge lurks. The strain of unfilled vacancies puts companies at a higher risk of current employees leaving. The wise hiring manager focuses on team retention from the very beginning to save time, money and productivity. Here’s how.

“Retention begins before a new hire starts their job, not a year down the road.”

Button Up Your Onboarding

Retention begins before a new hire starts their job, not a year down the road. Onboarding is an opportunity to retain your talent right from the beginning.

In the past 18 months, I’ve heard from employers who’ve had new hires pull out at the (sometimes literal) last minute. I’ve also heard from so many candidates who talked about processes at their jobs not being smooth from the get-go. A new hire who experiences a bumpy onboarding process is always going to be a bit loose in the saddle.

If you’re not keeping in touch with candidates and ensuring they feel included before their official start date, you risk losing them before they even begin. This risk increases if your team operates remotely. 

Lack of communication and transparency creates red flags and doubts for candidates. The solution? Make them feel like part of the team before day one. Consistently engage them before and after they start. Instead of immediately throwing them into the deep end, provide support to help them acclimate. 

Incorporate some of these strategies with your new hires to foster engagement, connection and even loyalty: 

  • Introduce them to key players right away.
  • Have regular 1:1 meetings, whether in-person or virtual.
  • Create “get to know you” opportunities.

Guiding new hires through a smooth, tailored onboarding process takes some time and thought, but it’s a long-term investment in your team that produces high yields. 

Ask for Feedback 

Rarely do I see a successful company with a high turnover rate, and one of the core components of retention is ensuring that people feel heard.

Tighten up your feedback system to guarantee that employees have an avenue to ask questions and voice ideas or concerns. Arrange 30-, 60-, and 90-day check-ins with HR for new hires. If they’re remote, make sure they have the technology they need to be successful. These small but powerful measures can head off doubts and dissatisfaction.

All this can be challenging when you already have your own full workload. Just remember, your people are your most important asset, and it’s worth investing the time to keep them. Retention is a long game, and it isn’t an easy one.

Take Time To Understand 

After you receive feedback, do something with it. Spend the time to really understand people’s different viewpoints. Don’t ignore what someone else values just because you don’t share those values. 

I often find what’s important to me isn’t what’s important to some of my younger team members. For example, younger team members often need to know the why behind the things we do, whereas older team members are usually more concerned with what we do than why we do it.

When feedback brings a difference in values to my attention, I try to re-approach how I relate to my team. I take a step back and seek new ways to understand their perspectives. 

Generational differences are very real, and unless you examine and integrate those distinctions, you risk alienating parts of your team. Candid feedback is a mark of your employees’ trust in you. Treating it as such will increase their loyalty. 

“Don’t ignore what someone else values just because you don’t share those values.”

Create Opportunities for Connection

Working from home sounded idyllic to many people — in the beginning. While there are definite advantages to the remote model, there are also pitfalls. One of them is isolation. 

Before the onset of remote work, opportunities for connection happened organically. The spontaneous “Hey, wanna grab some lunch?” may be all but gone, but the need for that kind of connection is even more pressing. 

That means you have to create these opportunities for your people. This is especially true for team members and new hires trying to get to know each other. Whether the opportunities are in-person outings or digital gatherings, the goal remains the same: to intentionally create the conditions for relationships to take root and grow. 

Conclusion

Remember, there’s no substitute for authenticity and caring. Show your employees you value their time, contributions and feedback. Cultivate engagement. All the seemingly “little” things are cumulative. 

When you layer communication, listening and connection into every level of your hiring process, you seed loyalty. If you invest the time and effort, you can increase retention even in today’s market.

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