Keeping employees satisfied can prove challenging in any work environment, and even more so when your negotiating the balancing act that is running a startup. While startup culture offers an enticing alternative to the dreaded 9-5 corporate life, the long work hours, regular budget issues, and slim chances at success can prove tiring for even the most experienced entrepreneurs.
This type of work environment is often fraught with uncertainties and offers plenty of opportunities to become disillusioned and lose faith in the direction of the company. For a CEO, this means having to create both an enticing company culture as well as offering oneself as a source of consistency and stability. Also, since startups are all about value generation, being able to manage workplace stress is especially important as a means of ensuring that your employees remain productive and motivated.
We spoke with 7 startup CEOS and asked what their best advice was for keeping employees happy and maintaining retention rates, here’s what they had to say.
1. Keep Them Interested
“Keep them interested. People, especially young people, like to be part of something. Contribution of your time, energy and health should be dedicated to a greater purpose, and every business can be purposeful or boring to death. You are not selling lamps – you are selling light and interior perfection to make people comfortable at home.You are not selling sneakers – you are selling a healthy way of life or a modern look. The point is, give them something greater to be part of.”
Maxim Burtikov, Quokka
2. Establish Trust
“A 2015 SHRM study determined that the top two contributing factors to employee satisfaction are respectful treatment of all employees, and trust between employees and senior management.
People want to be trusted and empowered to make decisions in their roles, which requires regular communication around each employee’s experience and performance. This allows managers to confidently give employees autonomy, while growing genuine relationships that contribute to employee happiness and loyalty.”
David Mizne, 15Five
3. Ask For Their Advice
“Ask them for their advice – seriously.”
Matthias Mueller, Sustainability Compass
4. Be Consistent
“Operate your company as a family run business. Be reasonable however demand a lot, be consistent and a good role model, and notice when your employees need a break: give them random paid half days off.”
Duane Dennis, Miramix
5. Set Expectations
“In the early days of Network Union, we made the decision to create an employee culture paper to define not only how to manage staff but also to create transparency with expectations. We review the contents of this paper with any new starters and also at points during the year. The culture paper ensures all employees are able to consider whether they fit well within our business.The outcome is better alignment between the employees and the business creating better retention.”
Robert Sturt, The Network Union
6. Offer Growth Opportunities
“The world is changing faster than ever, employees constantly evolve and they are exposed to new opportunities every day. Employees are not looking to marry a company anymore, but build their careers. Make sure you hire the best people you can and offer them the growth opportunities they are looking for. Enhance your employees’ strengths and give them tools to grow. Be ready to pivot their role or title.”
Lorenzo De Leo, Rokk3r Labs
7. Give Them As Much Responsibility As Possible
“No matter what kind of work or what kind of company or what stage in the company development you are in; if you believe in what you do, does make a difference! You will be motivated with your job. The best way to keep employees engaged is to provide as much information about what the company is doing and what their role is. Give them as much responsibility as possible so everybody can have his or her part in achieving the difference the company is trying to make in the world.”
Rolf Ritter, People As A Service