Four employee retention strategies for 2021

6 mins read

Four ways to increase employee retention within the company

The power lies in people and their desire for evolution. Daily activities can easily become a routine, decreasing employee retention, motivation, and evolution throughout time. Employees work 20% better when motivated, and highly engaged teams increase business profitability by 21%. Thus, having a motivated team can bring results to both their professional development and the company’s results. That’s why, at Grapefruit, we have incorporated multiple assets and activities to ensure the increase of our employees’ motivations at the workplace as well as creating a working environment that will bring satisfaction among our colleagues. But what are the steps? Let’s take a look!

A clear onboarding process - getting to know the team and company

According to a TINYpulse study conducted in 2018, 23% of employees are more likely to stay if their manager clearly explains their role and responsibilities. The onboarding process is the first contact a new employee has with the company, being the first step towards employee retention in software development businesses. Each step needs to be clearly defined, helping the new colleague integrate in both the company’s way of working as well as their new team. At this point in the process, the input of the HR team is very important. The dedicated person who takes care of the new employee presents from the first-day information regarding the specifics, history, and organizational culture of the company. The mission and vision, the organization chart, the team structure but also the evaluation process are necessary details. At the same time, the clients we collaborate with, the projects carried out, and the actions we do daily are part of the way of organizing. 

Another significant aspect that every employee must know from the beginning refers to the benefits that he has, which is the evaluation process, what are the Seniority Principles and what are the general rules of the company. After this stage, the Human Resources Team will also establish a series of meetings between the newcomer and the team in which he will work. We don’t forget about the other departments he will collaborate with, that’s why meetings with the rest of the departments are held, one by one so that they know each other.

Also in support of our new colleagues, we created the New Income Guide, which includes all the information presented in the onboarding process, so that it is always at hand, at any time, and easily accessible.

How fast and efficiently you can integrate a new employee into the company can also contribute towards an increase in employee retention. At Grapefruit, for each employee, we assign two mentors. The first one is from inside the department to which the employee belongs and will give an introduction on the technical aspects of how the department works: the way of working, specific tasks, projects, etc. The other one is a ”buddy” (as we like to call it) who is not necessarily from the same department but will take care to introduce our new employee to our colleagues, culture, activities, and the overall vibe. 

Learning process - following a well-established plan

In 2018, LinkedIn’s report on Workforce Learning, 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers. Thus, companies supporting their employees in their professional development are less likely to have a decrease in employee retention. TINYpulse’s study showed that 20% of employees are more likely to still be working at their companies a year later, especially if they feel in control of their careers. 

Based on this information, we designed a learning plan based on Seniority Principles that are constantly updated to the market’s requirements. These seniority principles are a set of skills each employee needs to sharpen in order to promote to the next seniority level. It is based on the market’s requirements for each role, and we’re reviewing them yearly in order to ensure their relevance, taking into consideration how fast-paced the digital industry is. We believe that keeping an employee growing and developing new skills throughout their career will contribute greatly towards retention. 

The learning plan, we’ve mentioned earlier, is based on the Seniority Principles one. After looking over the requirements needed to promote to the next level, team leaders and employees can create a custom learning plan, based on the projects, responsibilities, and goals of the employee. Each “to do” of this learning plan has measurable and actionable items that cannot be interpreted, and it’s clear for everyone when they are completed. The Learning Plan covers both technical and soft skills development. 

The plan is discussed from the beginning within the software development team. Twice a year this plan is verified to observe what stage any member of the team is at. These tools give transparency to the professional evolution process of each employee as well as promotion eligibility. Our employees know exactly what they need to do to reach the next level of seniority. 

According to the journey of the learning plan, leadership opportunities for the employees are one of the most important steps because it’s the best way for a company to grow significantly. Let’s see what our way of thinking is in this regard. By keeping employees motivated, and outside their comfort zone, they can develop new skills productively. By giving them a chance to either coordinate an internship, mentor a junior, or become a team/technical lead, their professional and personal skills will sharpen and our company can expect higher employee retention. The growth of employees is directly proportional to the company’s growth, so we offer this depending on the context and possibilities. Thus, if a member of the team stands out with knowledge, skills, or a way of thinking, he receives a new opportunity. Specifically, he can reach a leadership position. In the case of our development team, they can become technical leads or team leads. 

Professional and personal development should always be encouraged. Whenever a colleague of ours wants to invest in a course that would broaden their knowledge on specific areas, we will help with the investment as long as there’s proof of its utility in their professional area as well. What we’ve learned throughout the years is that conferences tend to give you the inspiration you need to improve your skills. When you do find yourself in a slump, or you’ve caught interest in a certain topic, a conference or workshop can offer you the inspiration and information you need to bring improvements to your team. That’s why we encourage our colleagues to participate in conferences and workshops whenever they feel it’s necessary for their further professional development. 

employee retention starts with a learning plan

Organization process - keeping the organization within the team

Our software development team has a teamleader who coordinates the three IT sub-departments: front-end, back-end, and QA. Each sub-department has a teamleader, coordinating in close contact with the whole development department’s teamleader. Each member of the development department is dedicated to a certain project for a while. For a good collaboration between clients and the development team, each project has an account manager and a project manager. Our account managers or project managers will be facilitating the communication between the client and the development team. Likewise, these people will take care of gathering the project requirements, translating them into tasks that will be assigned afterward to the development team. At the same time, briefing sessions are held together with the project team. Within them, we explain the business needs, the attributions, and also the expectations from the client.

After the briefing session, any specialist begins to create tasks that respect a well-established flow. Code Review is received at daily status meetings. By this method, the team represents a specific feedback session before entering production. The project team offers proofreading to confirm certain work sections so that everything is controlled and closely related to customer requirements. At the end of each project, retrospective meetings are organized to observe both the blockers that existed and the strengths of the work.

We also organize Pink Days once a month. This event, appreciated by all colleagues in the company, regardless of the department, is organized once a month and is eagerly awaited by each of us. In general, our development colleagues present the newest technologies, newest trends, new programming languages, and various things they’ve learned. Sometimes these technical topics do not necessarily help all employees. There are some topics of interest to everyone, but when they are too technical they are rather useful for the development department.

Constant feedback - taking action if things become overwhelming

Employee retention is also linked with keeping in touch with work satisfaction levels. We always check if people are satisfied with the project or need something new to be involved in the work process. If there are capping moments, we switch them up to see how they work for different clients. Developers get access to new projects for choosing their libraries and programming languages. They have the opportunity to start a project from point 0, for discovering the experience of a final result worked from the first stage.

We check team behaviors to see if there is any small sign of burnout. If there are such cases, we encourage them to take a break or a few days off to disconnect. In these complicated times, we practice hybrid work. Developers have the option to decide when to work remotely and when they require more physical interactions with the team, at the office point.

We appreciate the unity in the team, so we organize activities with the other departments of the company as often as possible. In this way, we can connect with others who are part of the same company.

We believe that in any team we need communication, understanding, motivation, and good organization. Because of this, we always try to find the best solutions to succeed in keeping the development team united. We are proud of our colleagues, and we wish that every day we can contribute to their professional and personal evolution, along with keeping the process of employee retention. 

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