Building a Culture of Retention - Strategies for SaaS Leaders

January 18, 2024

Concluding on an a deal man shaking hand in office

Imagine you've just landed the most ideal new team member – a high-achiever with a track record of hitting targets out of the park. Well, here's the catch: in the overheated SaaS market, you're probably not alone in recognising their potential. How do you make sure this star player stays with your team for a long time? A big fat salary is definitely not the (only) answer. Bluebird's seasoned recruiters share what you could do to improve your retention.

Let's kick things off by understanding why talent in the SaaS market decides to switch jobs in the first place. From there, we'll explain the four key ingredients—Culture, personal development, financial incentives, and stability—that keep your team engaged and committed. We'll infuse practical tips to become a star in each of the aspects. To wrap it up, we'll draw conclusions that tie it all together, offering a dynamic perspective on talent retention in the SaaS realm. But first: Let’s figure out why people in SaaS leave their organisation in the first place.

Job Moves in SaaS: What Fuels the Shift?

Ever wondered why high-performing Account Executives, comfortably exceeding targets and enjoying lucrative rewards, would even consider leaving their current roles? We’ve interviewed 7,500+ Account Executives worldwide, seeking these exact insights from top performers.

The most commonly given answers were:

  • Too many changes that impacted me personally.
  • No clear career track or progression path.
  • No longer identifying with the company/team culture.
  • Disconnect with a new sales leader.
  • Promises not being kept.
  • Lack of challenge and personal development.
  • Lack of recognition, the feeling of not feeling valued or not having an impact.
  • Inadequate compensation.
  • Shift in market trends and growth potential.

Based on this analysis, we've pinpointed four major reasons behind job changes: culture, personal development, financial perks, and stability. Below, we'll delve into each one, offering actionable tips to help you excel in every aspect.

Talent retention is as important as acquisition in the overheated SaaS market

Four Pillars for Employee Engagement and Retention

How do you retain top talent? Below, we will dive into each of our four pillars. We’ll first explain the importance of each pillar, then pinpoint the crucial elements of each, and finally we will give practical tips to improve your talent retention. Starting off with how to build a solid company culture.

1. Craft a company culture so that people will want to stay

The heart of any company is its people. People join and stay because of the people. Building a culture that fosters personal and professional connections is therefore key to retention.

Elements of a good company culture

  • Supportive and emotionally intelligent leadership.
  • Open feedback and communication loops.
  • Good work/life balance.
  • Living core values.
  • Accountability and ownership.
  • A great onboarding process.

Practical Tips for Crafting an Enduring Culture

  1. Integrate core values into daily operations and decision-making. For example, only (and only!) hire people that align with your company’s values.
  2. Install a sense of responsibility where good behaviours are celebrated, and negative behaviours are addressed promptly.
  3. Invest in leadership development. Ensure leaders are equipped with the skills to coach, inspire and lead by example.
  4. Make the onboarding process welcoming and informative. It doesn’t have to be perfect, especially for an early-stage startup, but the new hire should feel welcomed and supported immediately to reduce the risk of them leaving in the first month.
  5. Advocate for a healthy work-life balance to prevent burnout and enhance overall well-being.

In essence, fostering camaraderie, teamwork, and a shared purpose not only defines your culture but also ensures it becomes a dynamic force that keeps your team committed and thriving.

2. Empower personal growth

At the core of a thriving team is the opportunity for individual growth. Providing avenues for professional development, constructive feedback, and timely recognition is paramount in retaining valuable talent.

Elements of Personal Growth:

  • Feedback and Recognition.
  • Investment in Training.
  • Leadership Support.
  • Clear career paths.
  • Clear team goals, both long- and short term.

Practical Tips for Empowering Personal Growth:

  1. Establish consistent loops for providing constructive feedback and recognising achievements.
  2. Think of initiatives to support continuous learning, for example with an unlimited book budget, or weekly team training hours.  
  3. Create a clear career ladder within the organisation, outlining development opportunities at each stage.
  4. Define clear Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and align them with a structured growth journey for employees.

By prioritising personal growth, you not only invest in individual success but also reinforce your commitment to the long-term development and satisfaction of your team members.

Company culture and room for personal development are important motivations for SaaS people to stay in their current role.

3. Keep your team financially motivated

Ensuring your team is financially motivated is a critical aspect of talent retention. Competitive salaries, achievable targets, and rewarding overperformance contribute to a content and committed workforce.

Key Financial Considerations:

  • Competitive Salaries: Align salaries with market averages (at least!) to remain competitive in the industry.
  • Realistic Targets: Set achievable targets that motivate employees, without creating undue stress.
  • Reward for Overperformance: Recognise and reward team members who consistently go above and beyond expectations.
  • Balancing Compensation: Strive for a balance in compensation. Overpaying will not necessarily get you the best people, but underpaying definitely won’t get you anyone.

Practical Tips for Financial Motivation:

  1. Regularly benchmark your compensation against industry standards to remain competitive. See for example our salary benchmarks for the Netherlands, Germany and the UK.
  2. Implement performance-based bonuses to directly tie financial rewards to individual achievements.
  3. Maintain transparency in the compensation structure, avoiding disparities that could lead to dissatisfaction.
  4. Ensure that newer team members are not paid more than existing team members without a justified correction (an unexpected raise goes a long way).

By keeping your team financially motivated, you not only attract top talent but also foster a sense of appreciation and commitment among your existing team members.

4. Stability: The blueprint for long-term team commitment

Stability is the bedrock of long-term team commitment. Minimising frequent changes in management, compensation plans, quotas, territories, and career paths contributes to a work environment where employees feel secure and invested in their roles.

Foundations of Stability:

  • Consistent Leadership: Aim for a stable leadership structure to provide continuity and a sense of security.
  • Transparent Communication: Clearly communicate the reasons behind any changes to keep the team informed and engaged.
  • Avoid Frequent Changes: Minimise regular alterations in compensation plans, quotas, territories, and career paths.

Practical Steps for Establishing Stability:

  1. Establish clear channels for communication to keep everyone informed and involved. For example, send weekly emails, host monthly meetings or talk about company affairs regularly during lunch.
  2. Strive for stability in leadership positions.
  3. Is there a change upcoming? Make sure that everyone in the company knows why the new changes will be implemented.

By prioritising stability, you not only foster long-term commitment but also create an environment where your team can thrive and contribute their best efforts.


In the dynamic world of SaaS, retaining top talent is a strategic must. We've delved into why professionals switch jobs, unveiling four key pillars. Culture forms the heartbeat, where shared values, accountability, and work-life balance create an environment where your team not only stays, but thrives. Empowering Personal Growth ensures continuous development, feedback loops, and recognition, helping team members in their professional journey.

Financial Motivation, our third pillar, aligns salaries, targets, and rewards with market standards, fostering contentment and commitment. Finally, Stability lays the blueprint for loyalty, minimising changes in leadership, transparent communication, and a unified vision.

As you navigate the SaaS landscape, integrating these pillars fortifies your team. Talent retention is as vital as acquisition; it’s about cultivating a thriving, committed, and empowered SaaS team. Continue building, growing, and nurturing a culture where your team doesn't just stay; they flourish.

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