AWeber's secret to retaining top tech talent (hint: it's not free lunches) - Technical.ly Philly

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May 31, 2019 7:15 am

AWeber’s secret to retaining top tech talent (hint: it’s not free lunches)

Chief People Officer Hope Bear writes about why the email marketing and automation company developed a 10-day onboarding course that every team member, at every level, experiences.

In AWeber's Chalfont office.

(Courtesy photo)

This is a guest post by AWeber Chief People Officer Hope Bear.
There’s a battle in the technology realm, but it’s not over who has the latest and greatest product features.

If you’re a recruiter or HR leader, you’re certainly all too familiar with the fight among employers to offer unique perks, standout salaries and desired work-life flexibility to attract and retain top talent.

While those wonderful benefits are well and good, the reality is that they’re meaningless to team members without a connection to the business’ culture and values. And, top talent won’t last very long if they don’t feel connected.

If retaining employees is your goal, fostering an environment that yields team member engagement is key. Engaged team members are emotionally invested in their company’s success and fully connected to their work. They’re dedicated, loyal, motivated and empowered, and they thrive when they are a part of something bigger than themselves.

So, if engagement is the solution to the recruitment puzzle, why isn’t everyone prioritizing it?

The truth is, it takes time and energy to help team members make valuable connections. It’s easy to invest in the recruitment process, but putting your own energy into creating a sense of fulfillment among team members is much more difficult. But, it pays big dividends down the road.

In recent years, we took a hard look in the rear-view mirror to better understand the team member lifecycle at AWeber, an email marketing and automation company based in Bucks County with just over 100 employees. We evaluated our past successes and failures and recognized an opportunity in our onboarding process to help team members foster better connections.

That’s why, about five years ago, we developed a 10-day onboarding course that every team member, at every level, experiences.

AWeber employees eating together. (Courtesy photo)

Before day one, new team members receive a welcome box at their home address, which comes complete with AWeber swag, a note from their onboarding buddy and some other surprises. They experience a welcoming environment before they even step foot in the door. Additionally, their first few days are full of introductions from everyone in the company. We encourage team members to share “fun facts,” which highlight everyone’s uniqueness and create a strong foundation for relationships.

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Of course, we also seek to educate new team members about our product. Each new team member creates their own AWeber account and gets hands-on experience with our product. They shadow our customer solutions team members (who lead onboarding alongside the human resources department) to learn about our product from our customers’ perspective, better understand our customers’ needs, and witness how our team expertly crafts solutions to customers’ problems.

After 10 days of classroom-style and hands-on education, new team members are welcomed to their desk with a chorus of cheers and hoopla, all some awesome walk-in music. The experience is akin to the feeling of a real graduation.

Yes, there’s ping pong, too. (Courtesy photo)

Although they are now diving into their actual work, the onboarding process doesn’t end there. Ongoing leadership training and behavioral assessments support open communication and conflict resolution by enabling a greater awareness of one’s self and promoting more interactions with others. Through this process, we have created an environment where team members are encouraged to be open and honest, and share ideas with one another.

Our onboarding program is all about people. We want to help people create remarkable connections. It’s through this process that team members experience our core values and help our company culture come to life. And the average AWeber employee stays for 3.7 years; in the rest of the tech industry, retention is something like 18 months.

Undoubtedly, every company culture is different. But, as leaders, we need to explore what we’re doing well, and what needs improvement, to ensure we are exceeding expectations for our people. Only then will we have an engaged team that is motivated by a sense of purpose, and one that will help move our businesses forward for years to come.

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