How Not To Lose Your Entire Team in 2021

It’s apparently a myth that ostriches bury their head in the sand at the sight of danger.

That might be fairly obvious though, because if you think about it, they wouldn’t have survived that long if they stuck their tiny heads in sand, showing their long juicy necks for predators to gorge on.

That said, it’s a nice analogy.

And whilst it might not be true to reality, the cold hard facts of recruitment over the last 12 months has meant many founders have done the same.

It’s happened time and time again, with multiple teams in a vast amount of companies.

How do I know?

Because during that time, I’ve hosted a weekly roundtable for a small select group of thought leaders across the recruitment industry.

As a result, I’ve had an incisive insight into the industry.

How have companies faired?

What’s the general consensus of how to continue successfully?

How are people being treated?

Here’s what I’ve learnt…

1. Hiring great talent will continue to be the number 1 priority

No surprises here then.

But this is an issue. Because if you haven’t tried to recruit in the last 12 months you probably assume it’s going to be as easy as it was.

If you have tried to recruit in the last 12 months know it’s not.

And so you’ve probably started doing other small things to help the cause. Things like defining your employer brand. Or any of the things on this list.

How not to lose your entire team in 2021

2. Great Recruitment businesses have already raised the bar in how they look after their people

Here’s an insight into the collective mentality of virtually everyone in the world.

Life’s hard right now.

And considering the many false dawns, consistent nonsensical advice from those in power, and the fact many of us have lost loved ones, it’s easy to see why.

The best companies have realised it.

They’ve stayed in touch with their people and made them realise they’re not only important, but can take some time to adjust.

In some cases employees have had pay rises, more time off than normal and mental health support. They’ve had furlough payments topped up to normal salary. They’ve had ‘no zoom days’. They’ve had understanding.

In the majority of other cases, they haven’t.

And so on top of working harder for the cause, and finding the resilience to turn up repeatedly when everything’s crumbling around them, they now feel like they’ve been taken for a ride.

Being there for your people isn’t easy. It’s a lot of hard work. But it’s work that pays off massively, both in the short term and long term.

How not to lose your entire team in 2021

3. Your value proposition needs to be more than an ‘uncapped commission scheme’

OK, let’s say this one more time, just for the people at the back.

No one caps their commission scheme.

They might have done once, but to do so now would be borderline madness.

Equally just making your value proposition financially motivated means you’re likely to get recruiters join who are solely financially motivated.

So morals, or knowledge, or balance, or wellbeing, or skill probably don’t register in their personal drivers to success. Or at least as high up the chain.

Now you probably don’t want to be thought of like that with your clients and candidates, right?

But if that’s the reality you’ll have to spend a lot of time lying to those people as a blind, pointless PR exercise.

And surely you’ve got enough work on right now?

How not to lose your entire team in 2021

4. Inclusion & Belonging matters

Let me say that again…


As someone in your business near the top of the chain, you have a rare opportunity to be the change in the world you want to see.

And here’s the thing, D&I matters for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it’s the right thing to do.

If we’re ever going to reach true equality we need to make direct and considered steps on that path. But what you’ll notice as you take those steps is this…

It’s rewarding. Both financially, which is good news for Accounts, and emotionally.

It shows you have a strong moral compass and aren’t afraid to take a stand and show the world you care about the fight.

Get this right and your employees will be more bought-in to the values of your business, because they’ll align with their own. And if they’re more bought-in, they’re less likely to leave.

Meaning attrition will drop.

Retention will rise.

And ultimately both the people you hire, and you as a result, will be more successful.

5. A growth strategy needs to factor in Infrastructure

“We’re looking to double in head count this year alone.”

If I had a pound for every time I’d heard this during my career, I wouldn’t need to work. Obviously I still would, just for the love of the game…

But look, whilst I understand the intention to double in size is great, the Directors who tell me these things often mean purely revenue generators.

And that’s great, but the more recruiters you have, the higher the burden on the rest of the business.

It means Accounts will be busier. So will HR, if you have HR. If you don’t, shouldn’t you?

6. Your back office is central to success, look after them

A nice follow on here then, but something that often gets overlooked.

Treat your back office like you treat the rest of the business. I know, sounds earth shattering. And you might argue someone in Accounts brings far less to the business than your top biller.

Or the person who orders stationery doesn’t bring as much as your Non Billing Managers.

The truth is, they should do. They should feel (and be) as important in the process. And when they feel like they are, their satisfaction will rise immeasurably.

How not to lose your entire team in 2021

7. To engage your people you need to ENGAGE WITH them.

You know the saying ‘people leave people’?

Well right now your people are highly sought after in the market. So start thinking about how you can offer them a compelling enough reason to continue their journey with your business.

If you don’t, they’re about to become bombarded with opportunities elsewhere. In fact they already are.

8. An Employee Assistance Programme should be standard

We’ve just completed 12 months of a pandemic ‘on the hardest setting’ and your people need to know they have support in place, should they need it.

It’s incredibly unlikely people will ask for more support.

They’ll bury their heads. They’ll fold under the weight. They’ll look for another job. And they’ll find one. And by the time they’re handing in their notice, a lack of support will be one of their reasons.

Offering it at this point’s like offering masking tape to a crumbling house.

How not to lose your entire team in 2021

9. Work/life balance

There’s a temptation to offer work life balance on the basis of people’s needs. So you’ll say things like working parents can have time, should they need it to work flexibly.”

And OK great.

That’s a good thing. But why does someone have to produce offspring to be afforded the right to flexibility?

I don’t believe there’s a person alive today who wouldn’t appreciate balance between life and work. Or flexible conditions to boot.

Offering this to your staff isn’t counter intuitive to great results. It’s in partnership.


Coming out of this pandemic we’re going to see which businesses truly trust their people. 

You need to start treating them like grown ups.

Some businesses are miles ahead here and are now offering their people a truly flexible working arrangement – they will be the ones who achieve their growth strategy in 2021 (see point 5).

You need the Infrastructure to do this. But it’s rare there’ll be a huge cost involved. And for the vast majority of companies, it’s one you’ve already absorbed.

How not to lose your entire team in 2021

11. A holistic approach to learning is essential

Stop thinking L&D is just about the Sales and start focusing on people. Offer lessons around resilience, wellbeing, life hacks, writing, marketing, financial security, strategy, confidence, public speaking.

The list could honestly go on and on.

Limiting your training to the subject of recruitment is not only short-sighted, but one dimensional.

And that’ll be the ethos instilled in your people.

12. Lean into the tough issues

There’s a lot going on in the world right now and burying your head in the sand won’t help. 

Speak to your teams about bigger issues.

Ask them what’s on their mind.

Show them you care about them and not just the bottom line.

Ask what ‘support from your business’ looks like to them.

Then take small logical steps on the path to offering it.

There will be times when you don’t like the answers that come back.

And there’ll be times you feel unequipped to respond. And that’s OK.

But you’ll be surprised at how far asking goes in the minds of those you’d like respect from.

And finally, and I cannot stress this enough, STOP trying to sell them your jobs because you have a beer fridge, a ping pong table and uncapped commission – no one cares.

You can download our comprehensive employer branding guide here.

And if you’d like a blueprint to follow, to ensure you’re hitting all the major points above, you can sign up to Hunted for free, here.