Founder and CEO Stuart Stoyan offers his tips for holding onto staff as a startup.

Netflix offers its staff unlimited leave, catered lunches and still it’s only able to keep hold of its staff for an average of just three years.

According to data from LinkedIn, among Silicon Valley giants further along here than most. Facebook holds onto its staff for an average of 2.5 years. Uber keep its talent for less than two years.

These are established brands who invest heavily in securing the best talent and holding onto them. They realise that retaining talent is crucial to their success.

It’s arguably more critical for early stage startups, where a change of the guard can set a business back months – or years – of work. It can be fatal in some circumstances.

So how can earlier stage startups hold onto their talent? And why is this important?

Australian peer-to-peer lender Moneyplace was founded in 2014, and it's yet to have a single staff member walk away from the business. It now has a team of almost 20 staff, hiring an additional seven members in the past year.

We talked to CEO and founder Stuart Stoyan on why staff retention is important and how to cultivate it in early stage businesses.

Why is staff retention important for startups? And what benefits has it given MoneyPlace over the years?

The benefits of staff retention can’t be understated. I have spoken to many founders who say hiring and attracting talent is a key issue. Founding and scaling MoneyPlace has not always been easy, but our team has held it together and is still driving what we think is the best personal loan in the market.

Retention has enabled us to, innovate, tweak the business model, and to ride the highs and lows together. Most importantly it means that we have a unified vision on where the business is headed.

Growing any business at speed means there’s a key people risk. When you are a fintech that risk gets spread a bit thinner. You need people who understand finance, tech, marketing and how to lead and drive solutions through.

Each one is essential to your success and losing one can set you back.

MoneyPlace has always focused on hiring the right person for the team and role, but it also goes to incentives.

I believe in early stage startups need to take advantage of schemes like the Employee Share Scheme to attract the best talent, particularly if, like we did, you need to lure them away from corporate careers.

What are some of the strategies you have set up to help retain staff? And at what stage of your growth did you put them into effect?

Hiring the right people goes a long way.

There is also no deadweight at MoneyPlace. It sounds cliche, but we are a group of like-minded people who each have an important role in driving the company forward.

While we do as much as we can to make people feel appreciated and valued, the truth is that they are needed for their unique experience and expertise and we give them the autonomy to make stuff happen.

Is there an element of luck to staff retention? Is it about catching potential staff at the right point in their career?

Of course keeping staff in a startup for four years requires a little bit of luck.

We’ve strategically hired people who were looking to take their next steps in their career.

But keeping the team together has meant cultivating an environment where people say what they think and are listened to. Where people know they are trusted and are pushed to do more and where we are always looking to the next challenge as a team.

"We’ve strategically hired people who were looking to take their next steps in their career."

Stuart Stoyan, MoneyPlace CEO

In your experience, are there particular roles that have been more difficult to retain than others?

MoneyPlace has not had anyone voluntarily leave, but we have occasionally made a mistake in a role or a person has turned out not to be a good fit.

As any startup grows and pivots it’s likely that you’ll have a role that will become redundant, or a key position that you need a different skill set for.

This is difficult to plan for and tough to manage, but it’s also necessary. The key here is to honest and compassionate. No one wants to be told they are no longer needed, but I’ve always found it is as much about how you treat people on the way out as it is about how you treat them on the way in. This is important both in terms of respecting the individual and for the rest of the team.

Are there any tips you could offer to early stage startups to help encourage staff retention? Is it all about equity and wages or is there more to it?

Your early stage team needs to be motivated by the right reasons. Certainly equity is part of it, but what you really need is a team that shares your vision.

This is not going to be an easy journey for the founder, and equally, it’s not going to be easy for the team. There will be times when you aren’t sure if you can pay your team, and definitely not yourself. Things will go wrong.

The thing that underpins all of this with your team is trust. They need to trust you as the founder have the capacity and the drive to lead them to success, and you need to trust them to do the job you hired them for.