The media is hyping ‘the Great Resignation’, but if you are an early-stage tech company, you are likely experiencing this more as ‘the Great Poaching’. The labor market is extremely tight right now, and companies are dangling big pay packages and elevated titles to entice employees to jump ship.

The conversations on our board calls with portfolio companies sound a bit like a game of Battleship. Other tech companies lob over offers across different functional areas, but they don’t really know where our portfolio company’s top talent is. Massive offers with fancy titles sometimes land on our worst performers (E5….splash, a miss! We should be upgrading this position anyways). Other times, they land in the lap of one of the most critical team members (B7…, aghh, they hit our aircraft carrier!). Each offer and potential loss of an employee can have a different impact.

We suggest playing offense rather than waiting to react and play defense. Attractive offers are likely already landing in your key employees’ laps.  You just may not be aware it’s happening yet. Here’s some ideas to get you started:

  • Review Your Org Health – cash and titles are only one element of what motivates a team member to leave or stay with you. Much more goes into the decision your employees face when presented with an attractive offer. Their connection to the work they are doing and experience within your organization will have big impact on their decision. How clearly communicated are the ‘why’ & ‘where’ (purpose & direction), the ‘who’ (leadership), and the ‘how’ (accountability) within your organization? Visit our Org Health Guide to help you think through next steps in each of these areas.
  • Improve Social Engagement – working in a distributed and/or hybrid world can be isolating, and employees can feel increasingly disconnected from the organization and its mission. For starters, we offer some practical tips for handling remote work here. We’d put a real point of emphasis on building true social engagement. It’s easy to get narrowly focused on execution and not consider the softer aspects of employee engagement. In a remote/hybrid world, you can end up with just a team of mercenaries if you aren’t careful. Consider adding a social engagement platform like TenSpot to help strengthen the bonds and keep your team connected.
  • Benchmark/Check-in with Top Performers – after you’ve worked on the macro factors in your organization, get proactive in assessing your top performers:
    • Make sure you understand who you absolutely must retain.
    • Benchmark their compensation against the current market and consider where you may need to be proactive in adjusting. Your investors should be able to help you with this exercise, as they likely see across a portfolio of companies and have access to compensation studies.
    • Check-in with these individuals to ensure they are bought into the mission, working well with their direct manager, and engaged and supported by the rest of the team around them.