Many workforce professionals say the biggest threat to talent retention today is the gig economy, not other competing employers. And it looks as though they’re right.
In fact, a 2016 McKinsey study found 20-30 percent of the labor force in both the U.S. and the EU-15 is now made up of independent workers who are self-employed or do temporary work.
More employees are showing their entrepreneurial spirits, but that doesn’t mean they have to leave your company to feel fulfilled. Your talent retention strategy just needs to be geared toward managing employees with this entrepreneurial drive and putting their skills to good use every day. When they feel valued and empowered, they won’t look to jump ship.
Here’s how to retain your entrepreneurial spirits:
Implement a Tiered Earning System
One of the most alluring aspects of the gig economy is the possibility of higher earnings. If an employee leaves to start their own company or freelance, they can set prices and potentially earn more per project. In their eyes, the sky's the limit for earning potential.
Why not give them this opportunity in your company?
Jameson Slattery, the VP of global marketing at Colorescience, a luxury skincare manufacturer located in Carlsbad, CA, gives his staff the option for unlimited growth.
“Implement a tiered earning system that allows competition and unlimited earning potential,” he said. “The entrepreneurial members of your workforce will thrive off of a system that allows additional compensation when they work hard and produce better results.”
Slattery also suggested creating a bulletin to publicly celebrate your top performers and offer additional monetary rewards. Their competitive spirits will push them and keep them engaged.
Show Them Their Options
Employees who are eager to learn new things and grow in multiple areas present their own set of challenges to talent retention. The best way to keep these employees onboard is to satisfy their desire for advancement instead of stifling it.
As the founder and CEO of Roomi, a New York City-based mobile platform that connects renters, Ajay Yadav gives his employees a lot of flexibility in their roles.
“I don’t believe in putting someone in a box,” he said. “Our employees are allowed to work on multiple projects and explore interests outside of their job description.” He encourages them to attend any meeting they’re interested in and offers them classes on any subject they want to develop a skill in.
Similarly, Josh Braaten, the co-founder & CEO of Brandish Insights, a brand measurement platform located in St. Paul, MN, praises his top performers with unique growth opportunities.
“Talented individuals can stick around longer if you can offer them any sort of exclusive apprenticeship opportunities,” he said. “These are completely specialized assignments and responsibilities that achieve an objective for the company and help the individual gain a specific talent or skill.”
When you create an opportunity for entrepreneurial types, they will jump at it. Show them how they can grow and evolve their role by sharing clear career paths to their end goal. For example, if a sales team member wants to build his career in your media production department, provide him with a clear action plan. Then, check in regularly to hold him accountable.
Develop Their Intrapreneurial Spirits
Employees who are interested in the gig economy like to take ownership of their own projects. Your micromanagement style is pushing them away.
Instead, give them special projects that they can create and develop in their own way. David Moncur, the principal of Moncur, a branding and digital agency headquartered in Southfield, MI, saw great success with this approach.
“When someone feels stuck, they want to learn and grow and be a part of more things,” he said. “Provide them with initiatives; give them authority in the company. I had a few employees who started a culture program and team, and they actually own it, and run it, and drive it.”
Align your talent retention strategy with your culture. The owner of ThinkLions, a consulting agency in Oak Park, MI, Mike Sims noted how his brand is built with an ‘intrapreneurial’ spirit. It influences how they hire and retain A players.
“We hire people for their expertise, give them a goal, and allow them to figure out how to use their skills to accomplish that goal,” he said. “This ‘project-based’ work style allows everyone to be something like their own entrepreneur -- but within our organization.”
Provide employees with goal tracking information and show them how their project aligns with the company’s overall mission. This way, they see how their continued dedication to a particular project is impacting the bigger picture.
Keep the Office Culture Alive
Flexible scheduling is important to employees with an entrepreneurial mindset because it offers the same convenience of the gig economy. However, you still need to maintain your culture in a flexible space.
Jacob Dayan, the co-founder and CEO of Community Tax and Finance Pal, two Chicago, IL-based tax resolution services companies, said they offer incentives to employees who come to the physical office, like free food and athletic classes, while encouraging flexible hours and remote options.
Their flexible arrangements still deliver a positive cultural experience because they put the control into the hands of their employees. There’s a mutual respect and understanding -- you can work wherever you want at whatever time as a long as you hit your deadlines.
At the same time, continue to host cultural events, like game nights, team outings, and potlucks. This balance helps everyone still feel like they’re a part of a strong and connected team, while staying true to their entrepreneurial spirits.
How does your talent retention strategy account for entrepreneurial employees?
Andre Lavoie is the CEO of ClearCompany, the first talent alignment platform that bridges the gap between talent management and business strategy by contextualizing employees’ work around a company’s vision and goals. You can connect with him and the ClearCompany team on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.