What Staff Really Want - Listening to your Team’s Needs

What people require from their employers, managers, and colleagues, is different to what it was in past years. The days of having one job for life are long gone. In the highly competitive tech industry, hiring is but the first challenge - retaining and growing a sustainable team for the future is the holy ground.

Good wages and career progression will always play a part, but there is more to feeling valued at work than just money. Modern professionals value other elements of their work-life just as highly.

So what can you as an employer do to retain your team?

It’s important to understand what motivates them. Do you actually know what their individual ’ personal and career goals are?

At Few&Far we apply the same principles when building our own team to those we recommend to our clients when growing theirs. By digging into someone’s ambitions, from the first interview, we gain an understanding of the person and can therefore provide a working environment that not only allows them to reach their goals, but an environment in which they will enjoy working.

Set goals for the long and short futures

We work with individuals to create 18-month plans that are reviewed quarterly, over lunch. These take into account the individual’s short (several months) and long term goals (can be 10 years), allowing us to help them achieve the next steps in their careers. These meetings could be held in an office, but taking them for lunch is part of the process, stepping away from the office breaks down a barrier. Our experiences show that they are more willing to speak freely and we can discuss their progress and anything else they want to cover. By listening to the people that make your company what it is, you have a higher chance of retaining them.

Whether it is ideas for the company, a recent holiday or personal issues they might be facing, listen, you will learn something whilst earning a deeper respect from your colleagues. Through doing this we have retained great people, we have also built a philosophy to the benefit of our team in creating a structure based on their individual goals.

What about ‘culture’?

We strive to be open and collaborative, but building psychological safety at the beginning is the key to making this work effectively. I make it clear to everyone that they can have open and confidential conversations with me, with no consequences. If they are not happy with something in the company, they tell me, we discuss it and come up with a solution. 

But it’s not a solo project. We have established two teams that meet on a fortnightly basis to discuss issues and ideas, in addition to weekly company meetings to discuss what each team in the business has been up to, including the founders. This business-wide approach creates transparency whilst giving the team a voice that has benefited the company in countless ways.

There are some common threads that run through our team’s desires, such as transparency and the ability to make an impact in the business and for our clients are the most commonplace. From an early stage, people are given ownership of projects, building a belief in themselves that they are valued alongside the work they do.

These are the essential motivators for the team, however it's important to consider the ‘non-essentials’ too.

We have a business with an average age of 26, in one of the most stressful jobs out there. It's filled with ups and downs, so having a team around that can pick each other up when things are bad and celebrate together when things go well, helps with retention and improving mental health across the team. Monthly events for the whole business have helped increase the cohesion and friendly relationships amongst everyone.

Furthermore, we have a series of international incentives as one of the common motivations across our team is experiencing new things. Those that hit their targets gain the opportunity to travel internationally with all expenses paid trips that they vote on. Not something that can be done by all, but the ‘where’ is less important, it is the ‘what’ that matters. If there are common factors that you learn your team could gain from, experiment with your options and see what works.

Listen, experiment and try new things

We have learned so much from listening to our colleagues and friends. Finding what works for your team and your culture, possibly inspired by what I have shared here, will be of huge benefit as you look to build a team for the future not just for the next project.