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Recruiting (and Retention) Secrets of Austin’s Top Places to Work

We asked some of Austin’s Top Places to Work (according to the Austin Business Journal) what they considered their best selling points when it comes to recruiting job candidates—and retaining them. This small cross-section of rapidly growing startups, nonprofits and small businesses share similar secrets to success for both recruiting and retention. Above all, they say, the promise of meaningful work is the key.
Recruiting Job Candidates

“ gives employees chances early in their careers to do great things with high levels of opportunity and responsibility,” says Katie Conn, a talent acquisition manager at “We also encourage autonomy and innovative thinking at all levels.”

Similarly, at SpareFoot, Recruiter Katie Smith ranks employee impact as a major reason the company is adding top-level talent at an impressive rate.

“While our work culture helps us attract some great talent (I mean, who doesn’t like catered lunch and shuffleboard in the office?), the chance to grow with our innovative startup is one of our biggest selling points,” Smith reveals. “Each person who joins our team is going to be an integral part of our company and will have a big impact on SpareFoot’s future. So many people want to have this type of influence in their careers. We also offer stock options to all of our employees, which incentivizes this notion.”

Rapidly growing startups aren’t the only organizations attracting job candidates who seek meaningful work as Lisa Trahan, director of communications for St. David’s Foundation, explains.

“The Foundation has a mission-driven and positive culture, whose work makes a significant difference in our community,” Trahan points out. “Often the people we recruit are looking to do something meaningful with their lives, and the Foundation’s work is changing lives and helping people.”

For Starr Million Baker, CEO and co-founder of INK: PR + Brand + Social, culture is imperative.

“We put our candidates through a vigorous interview process with multiple interviews. Through that process they come out of it with a clear sense of what makes an INKer,” Baker says. “Our sense of family, our belief in hard—and excellent—work is what seals the deal for us in recruiting top talent.”

Retaining Top Talent

While the promise of meaningful work is vital for many job candidates, retention is all about following through on that promise. For, this comes in the way of challenges and rewards.

“Employees enjoy the challenging projects given to them and are empowered with ownership over those projects. This is something most people would not have at other companies, especially large ones,” explains Conn. “Also, our team members seem to be satisfied with their compensation and raises. is deliberate in rewarding those who perform above and beyond.”

According to Smith, SpareFoot’s culture is primed for retention at every turn.

“Making our employees happy is our top priority at SpareFoot—it’s always the people, then the product,” she says. “Therefore, the best thing we can give our employees—beyond a slew of great benefits—is the opportunity to grow, whether that’s in terms of training or ‘cross-pollination’ across the company. For example, we send our call center team leads to Sandler Sales Training so they can continually learn. Also, we work ‘area of responsibility’ time into the schedules of our call center agents, giving them time to learn more about specific aspects of their department, whether that be recruiting, systems and tools, or employee training.”

As she continues, her thoughts turn to how SpareFoot sees retention as an important foundation for rapid company growth, stating, “as long as our culture keeps up with our growth, and we continually invest time and energy into developing our employees, they will be eager to stay with—and succeed at—SpareFoot.”

St. David’s Foundation shows that putting employees first is just as good for cause-driven businesses as it is for profit-driven businesses.

“We treat employees as our greatest asset,” states Trahan. “We have built a flexible and innovative culture that supports the personal and professional success of each employee. Our CEO is often quoted as saying ‘no success at work is worth failure at home’ because we believe in a healthy work/life balance.”

And for a small marketing firm, the retention story strikes a familiar refrain. “Our best retention tool is our team,” says Baker. “Our people work hard for our clients, yes. But they work even harder to do the best for the people they work with (and play with) every day.”

What’s your secret to success? Has the promise and fulfillment of meaningful work played a role in your own recruiting and retention strategies?

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