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Reducing staff turnover in start-ups



Sue Karzis

Startup

By Sue Karzis

It may sound like a pipe dream, but it is possible to reduce staff turnover in start-ups. Staff retention has long been a focus for leaders of Fortune 500 companies and start-ups alike and unlocking the key to not only employee loyalty but also productivity has long been a conundrum that many CEOs aim to solve. The question is how?

The answer … tap into the employee’s need for purpose.

Purpose over profit

It’s no secret that the younger generation prioritise purpose over anything else, even their income. They are not a generation that wants to work simply for the sake of working. Rather, they wish to feel valued, and they want to work for companies that have a purpose. Proving this is the fact that 77% of millennials have a strong affinity for the charitable sector, proving just how much this generation wants to give back.

Sure, purpose may seem like a buzzword, in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sector. But it’s so much more than a buzzword to customers and employees alike. Remember, customers are voting with their feet, largely thanks to social media. Organisations have to respond with absolute transparency. And the same goes for employees. Prioritising purpose over all else – both the purpose of the organisation and the way the organisation can fulfill staff purpose – shows that a company does more than just sell goods and services, no matter what sector it’s in.

Its purpose that will keep your employees on side and engaged. Its purpose that will keep your employees happy, despite their salary or employee benefits. Its purpose that will ensure the organisation is values-driven and sticks to its mission. But how do you drive this purpose?

  1. Emphasise and then emphasise some more

Essentially speaking, your purpose is your ‘why’ – why you do what you do, why you are who you are and why you represent what you represent. In order to retain staff, you need to ensure employees understand this purpose and that they are given the opportunity to engage with it.

According to Professor Dexter Dunphy, highly engaged employees place a large emphasis on corporate social responsibility, preferring to work in organisations that are values-driven. Making up more than 30% of the Australian workforce, millennials want more than just a salary; they want purpose both in their individual roles and in the organisation they work for. Deloitte’s survey of millennials in 2016 found that 81% believe “the success of a business should be measured in terms of more than just its financial performance.”

  1. Ensure your purpose is reflected in a robust corporate social responsibility plan

As stated above, employees value more than finances. They want to work with an organisation that gives back to the community. So engage your staff directly to develop a plan that reflects the organisational values and how it positively impacts both the workplace itself and the local community.

For example, volunteering days can be a wonderful way to encourage staff to make a positive contribution to the community. Whether it’s volunteering at a local charity or even giving them time to donate blood, giving back increases morale and in turn, employee engagement. 

  1. Invest in your people

Remember, employees want to feel like they are working for a company that cares. Investing in your employees’ development will ensure you attract and keep the best candidates, further building a strong work culture. Employees will feel valued, they’ll work harder for you and they’ll be more open to new and innovative ways of doing things.

For example, at State Schools’ Relief, we implemented professional development sessions for all employees together, andindividual work plans giving staff the opportunity to indicate specific areas that they want to focus on throughout the year. As an added bonus, the staff sessions provide excellent team-bonding time.

It’s more than just ‘doing the right thing’

Above all else, identifying what makes your staff tick and what drives them to do better is crucial when reducing staff turnover. If you want employees who engage with the company, it’s most definitely all about give and take. You can’t expect them to work wonders for you if you don’t invest in them and their future too.

At the end of the day, this comes down to more than simply ‘doing the right thing’. While a business is still a business, and it needs to turn a profit, the only way you’ll do this successfully is by retaining excellent staff. And in order to retain the best staff you need to emphasis both your company purpose and the purpose your staff wish to experience in their work. It’s a winning formula.


Sue Karzis is the first female Chief Executive Officer of State Schools Relief, a Victorian based not for profit organisation that supports the needs of financially disadvantaged school students by providing them with new school uniforms, footwear and educational resources during times of vulnerability. Since her appointment, Sue has propelled the charity to record numbers of impact, assisting over 56,000 financially disadvantaged Victorian school children in 2018 alone and has set the goal of positively impacting 70,000 underprivileged Victorian school children in 2019.

Under her leadership the not-for-profit has distributed items exceeding $5M, widely promoted SSR’s own independent uniform label, Students Choice, established the SSR Ambassador Program, worked with 180 schools who have donated approximately $124,000 through a range of school based fundraising activities during the 2017/18 financial year and collaborated with a range of corporate sponsors including Bank of Australia and Bank First, which has enabled SSR to impact 83% of all Victorian state schools during 2018.

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