Startup culture is known for its flexibility, a flexibility that extends to nearly all areas of the workplace and company culture. Remote working is generally accepted, as is bringing pets to the office and even unlimited time off, depending on which company you are lucky enough to work for.
With workplace freedom becoming more and more visible, employees are expecting this type of flexibility to be the norm for most startups, while startup founders are put in a position of having to decide how much freedom they want to grant their employees. Should company policies be changed to adapt to the trend of increased workplace flexibility, or should existing policies be kept in place, even if employees object? We spoke with 8 different founders and asked if a startup’s policies be changed to keep its employees happy, here’s what they had to say.
1.“A company is larger than any one employee”
You should stand for your beliefs and find employees who are willing to be on the same train with you to build a culture together.
This being said, if a lot of your employees question one of your policies, you should really analyze them to see if it’s the employee or the policy that is wrong.
But a company is larger than any one employee – even yourself, so stick to your guns!”
Ovi Negrean, nugget
2.“Small businesses should be flexible in nature”
“Small businesses, unlike corporate-level companies, should be flexible in nature. Flexibility and agility go side by side, and can enable newer, resource-deprived, startups to achieve far more than established companies. Being flexible in order to retain the services of key employees , is more of a necessity than a preference. The only way to lure in extraordinary people, is to show them you are willing to go out of the ordinary for them.”
Alon Rajic, Business Loan Companies
3.“Work to build a feeling of ownership among employees”
“At ExactDrive it has always been important that all employees feel that they belong, that they are recognized when successful, offered flexible work options and are always informed on company goals and objectives rather than being left in the dark and guessing. Competitive compensation plans and perks are offered and important but they are just a piece of the overall happiness puzzle. We work to build a feeling of ownership among employees so there’s a level of commitment that’s deeper than just cashing a paycheck.”
Tim Nichols, ExactDrive
4.“Values are more important than policies”
“The values and behaviors of founders and key employees are more important to a start-up’s culture than specific policies. Leadership should foster a positive, inspiring work environment, which will produce a happy and motivated team. Good policies will be a reflection of that environment.”
Rolf Ritter, People As A Service
5.“Review on a constant basis and change where appropriate”
“We adopt culture documentation which out lines our ethos, thinking and company policies. Within the interview process, we ensure every prospective employee is fully aware of our expectations vs our policies. In this respect, we lower the possibility of dissatisfaction with our company policies. With this said, we review on a constant basis and change where appropriate.”
Robert Sturt, Network Union
6.“Open a dialogue and make sure you understand the motivations”
“Having been involved with a number of early stage start-ups, I have been in the unique position of witnessing some of the growing pains around certain policies. A common point of contention can be flexible hours, particularly for technology employees. In general, I would say it is smart to be open and to make sure your company is not too far from the norm for your industry or vertical. You also want to examine who is asking for the changes — if they are consistent top performers who will not abuse revised policies and will set the tone, then it’s a smart change and will benefit company morale and culture. If you fear abuse of revised policies, there could an underlying issue around performance or perception of performance. In any case, open a dialogue and make sure you understand the motivations for the requested changes and the norm or trends for your industry: in technology in particular, it is advisable to be seen as a trendsetter as far as workplace environment, rather than a dinosaur.”
Yen Pai, okkhq.com
7.“Changing policy is a negative signal”
“Changing policy is a negative signal. It implies leadership didn’t prioritize employee happiness from the start. It might imply leadership makes exceptions for some employees but not others. I’d hate to be one of the others. I recommend transparency about compensation, expectations, and using a formula based on a person’s experience and talent. Fairness is the metric, not happiness. Motivate employees with purpose and vision to keep them happy.”
Sabrina Atienza, Qurious.io
8.“Massive Transformative Purpose”
“Employee happiness is important and many policies can be created or modified to improve retention and overall morale. However, it is ultimately more important to have a clear vision, a Massive Transformative Purpose, that can captivate their hearts and minds; an ambitious common goal that will make everyone feel like this mission is a worthwhile investment of their talents, regardless of whether they agree with a particular policy.”
Juan Montoya, Rokk3r Labs