Managing a startup is an unyielding, relentless experience. A typical day consists of drawing up growth plans, touching the base with the team, checking in with the investors, and addressing the day to day problems that never seem to end. There are times when you reevaluate your decision to run a business and contemplate leaving it all behind.
Startups do manage to hold a trump card over corporates. It’s the size of the teams. The size of the teams dictates how effectively you can keep your employees happy and content. My small group of workers makes it easier for me to pop into their cubicle and ask them about their puppy (yes, I remember his dog’s name), and also get updated on the project’s status. Sometimes, it all sounds too good to be true.
Except, when I notice that my fellow startup founders struggle to retain their best talents, I see a pattern forming. Here’s how several startups manage to wreck their employee engagement endeavors:
Data is a global, gigantic invisible stream of binary digits. And, yet, these mere digits present us the information to establish a superior work culture. With professional execution and administration, data can be a minehouse of predictive outcomes such as the present employee engagement levels of your startup.
I have seen many leaders dive headlong into the engagement deep end with figuring out whether they can surface. No program is adequate unless you measure the impact of it. To not be blunt, your employee engagement efforts will prove to be meaningless unless you measure and analyze the data behind it.
Let me get straight to it. The best (trust me on this) way to gather data is through an engagement survey. It’s anonymous, simple and will yield more exceptional results than any other high-end solution.
The next, often ignored, step is when to conduct the survey. It will prove to be the ultimate handicap. Most surveys are administered irregularly, and when things are relatively quiet. To acquire the real flavor of your employees’ issues and emotions, conduct surveys close to the holiday times or days when the emotions seem to be on an all-time high.
The startup world can be rather unforgiving. But it starts becoming a severe issue when startups lose sight of why their employees preferred over customers.
The modern startup requires empathy to tap into their best selves. Lack of understanding from the management (not to mention their peers) can result in the degradation of mental health, productivity, and performance. Thus, engagement becomes one of the significant casualties in such a scenario.
If there is a single non-negotiable thing that you need to include in your startup right now- start by being more empathetic. An empathetic culture begins with an empathetic leader. It is crucial for us, especially leaders, to realize that the distinct lack of empathy for our people is only tempting future business loss.
The apparent lack of empathy in startups discourages employees from speaking their minds, hampers their creativity, and limits them to communicate valuable ideas. Showing empathy is akin to saying- “I care about your happiness and wellbeing”- to the people in your organization. Realize that employees have a life outside of their work. When employees inherently feel that they are more than a cog in the machine, they truly get more invested in the company.
The hallmark of wholesome work culture is when people feel comfortable about bringing up problems to a sound listening board.
Here’s the bottom line: a good HR can make things inherently easier for you. Contrary to popular belief, HR is not for firing people. Bringing in a good HR onboard can aid in training the managers and supervisors to handle employee engagement better.
Sometimes the top position can become lonely. As a leader, you might not seem too approachable or too involved in, you know, running a business- that you fail to connect with your employees on a daily basis. A good HR can help you bridge this communication gap with your employees by seeing things that you tend to overlook and puts your people at the center of the organization.
Anjan Pathak is a Co-founder and CTO at Vantage Circle - an Employee Engagement Platform. He is an HR technology enthusiast, very passionate about employee wellness and actively participates in the growth of the corporate culture. He is an avid reader and likes to be updated in the latest knowhows of Human Resource.