Handling HR on Internet Time

SAN MATEO (04/24/2000) - The lure of the startup is making it increasingly difficult to retain employees, both at large corporations and Internet technology companies. These tips will help your company stay competitive and attractive to your employees.

How do Internet and technology companies handle human resources issues on Internet time? Lee Miller, a consultant and head of human resources at a technology company, says that the key is flexibility.

1. Timing is everything

Miller says that technology companies face many of the same HR issues that brick-and-mortar companies do. The difference is how fast they occur and how often. "Technology companies move on Internet time. Issues arise in six months to a year vs. much longer periods of time for traditional companies," Miller says. "You need to be flexible in how you approach employment issues and decide what makes sense in this instance."

2. Do a little marketing

According to Miller, technology companies face a double-edged sword. "You don't want to hire someone who has stayed in the same position for years. You need employees who like change, like the fast pace, and are open to constantly learning and growing with the company." But how do you hire someone who only stays in a position for a two to three years and expect them to stay with your company for years? Miller says the key is to sell the employee on the company -- to emphasize that the company strongly urges employees to look ahead to where they want to be professionally and to communicate that with their managers.

3. Head employees off at the pass

Despite high turnover among IT employees in technology companies, steps can be taken to decrease turnover, Miller says. For example, Miller says managers should be checking the job boards for employee resumes; this will tip them off to employees who are looking and will give managers the opportunity to approach employees they'd like to retain.

4. Start-ups equal opportunity

Miller says that startups need to have HR professionals in place who can sell employees on the vision of the company. "You cannot really compete on salary anymore," Miller says. "You need to be able to sell potential employees on why your company is going places." Make your company a place where employees feel as if they are building something. Giving them a stake in a company that has a clear vision and drive will keep employees interested in the company and their own careers.

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