As skill gaps widen, HR leaders across organisations are shifting gears towards talent retention rather than talent acquisition, and startups are no exception. Not only is talent retention cost-effective, but it also saves a lot of time. With the growing startup ecosystem in India, employees are getting an opportunity for unprecedented career growth. For instance, the remuneration and bonuses offered by startups often surpass the tech giants to the extent of a staggering 160% in a few cases, as per a recent report. However, despite the high salaries and growth opportunities, the sector has witnessed some of the highest attrition rates.
In a few sectors, such as e-commerce and IT-enabled services, the overall labor turnover rate has been as high as 28.70 and 21.40%, respectively. There could be numerous reasons, including the work culture, uncertainty, instability, resource limitation, inadequate training, and issues in coping with the work-life balance, eventually leading to high labor turnover.
The HR leaders must think outside of the box and come up with innovative processes and policies that can increase the overall retention rates. Here are some of the most critical strategies HR can consider.
Flexible leave policy
Unlike the conventional working processes where the leaves are controlled and 'approved' by the management, the flexible leave policy gives employees more control over their time off. The employees can be allowed a certain number of days each year, which they can avail and use at their discretion without needing any approvals. With the leave consumption in Indian companies remaining between 70-75%, this step will not only allure an average startup employee to avail leaves; it will also result in passing autonomy and decision-making in the hands of workers.
Flexible work arrangements
Conceptually, many Indian startups have provided flexible work arrangements as part of 'perquisites' for a considerable period. However, the pandemic transformed the perk into a norm, and the concept has since evolved in the application. Generally speaking, flexible work arrangements give employees more control over when, where, and how they work. This includes various arrangements such as remote working, flexible schedules, job sharing, compressed workweeks, and reduced hours of working.
This has been an extremely popular way of boosting the chances of employee retention, as around 25% of small companies in India have resorted to flexible work arrangements by choosing at least one of the given alternatives. Besides being a cost-effective system, this concept helps in creating an employee-friendly organizational brand.
Wellness programs are an integral aspect of the overall Employee Value Proposition (EVP) that startups wish to offer employees. Since working in startups can be quite demanding, these programs can play an extended role in the promotion of both the physical and emotional health of employees. These programs encourage healthy habits, reduce stress and burnout, and create a positive work environment.
The critical importance of EVP programs, as suggested by a recent report, points out that attrition rates could be reduced by almost 70% with such initiatives. This figure might be dependent on a variety of other factors. Still, there is no doubt that wellness programs such as yoga and meditation sessions, fitness classes, mental health support, healthy food options, and employee engagement activities can positively impact employee morale.
Monthly focus group discussions with every team and get to know their real-time problem
FGDs (Focussed Group Discussions) can be an excellent platform where employees can express their concerns, provide feedback, and suggest solutions for their problems. This can help employees feel valued and heard, increasing their job satisfaction and engagement. Employees must feel that their voices are heard and their opinions matter in an enterprise's long-term vision. This is innovative, especially when such discussions are conducted in a positive and neutral environment.
Offsites refer to meetings or events that are held away from the usual office environment, where team members can come together to discuss important issues, brainstorm ideas, and build relationships. This could be an excellent opportunity to integrate work and play and reduce the friction between team members. If the budgets allow, quarterly offsites could be held at touristy spots, whereby the purpose of team bonding could be achieved even more effectively. It is a common yet effective way of improving employee retention rates.
One of the first steps an HR needs to undertake is to acknowledge the issue of high attrition and the fact that it could be addressed by making a few internal adjustments. Even though it might be difficult to completely transform an enterprise’s work culture, a few things can be done to make the entire work environment more ‘inclusive’. The strategies suggested in the article can help in better interaction and employee engagement, eventually leading to a higher degree of commitment.