All businesses have a culture, whether they are aware of it or not. Most startup founders agree that culture is an essential element of a startup's success. However, some startups have earned a reputation in that it's all fun and no work.
It has highlighted this mostly because startups are led by a younger generation focusing on the hustle's thrill and operating out of overpriced setups just for a cool workspace instead of displaying actual work.
What is Startup Culture?
Startup culture has received much attention lately. People are now looking for ways to improve the overall experience at work. Some are even champions of seamlessly integrating work into their life.
Startup culture is usually characterised by horizontal leadership, open communication, versatility and creativity that flows freely. From employees to clients, people are the priority.
Start-up culture varies from the corporate culture because it usually shows the team's personalities and passions. This is not to suggest that workers do not affect more progressive organisations' atmosphere, but rather that individual contributions have a more significant effect on startups or smaller businesses. A flat hierarchy with few barriers between team members and the C-suite manifests the high importance of individuals.
Why startup culture matters
According to Glassdoor's Mission and Culture Survey 2019, nearly four in five employees and job seekers consider a company's mission and culture before applying for a job. Company culture matters significantly more amongst younger adults; Millennials (18 - 34-year-olds) are more likely to place culture above salary than those age 45 and older in two of the four countries surveyed — U.S. (65% vs 52% age 45+) and U.K. (66% vs 52% age 45+).
Startup cultures matter because they boast better work-life balance and more versatility than corporate cultures. Small teams can be more welcoming to workers, which encourages a balanced work-home relationship from day one. People deserve to do significant work that they love, and it is quite a strong business case for investing in culture.
Follow these nine ways to build a thriving startup culture for your business.
1. Understand your purpose
You need activities that serve your purpose if you want to produce the best work and achieve your full potential. According to a study, not only does it feel nice to be happy when you work, but it also makes you productive.
Understanding your purpose helps you to have genuine experiences with other individuals. For your business, quality connections matter. They may open doors for collaboration. They may lead to opportunities you would not encounter otherwise. The simpler it is to look for the kinds of satisfying engagements, the more you understand your true calling.
2. Define Your Core Values
Company core values can guide the decision-making process in different situations, such as making hiring decisions to decide how to treat a challenging client, but only if they are codified and adhered to.
Regardless of whether your business is still in its startup phase or well-established in the industry, it is essential to identify your core values to build and sustain a stable, positive work culture as you develop. Lean on past work experiences, both positive and negative, to create a shortlist of suitable company values, and get a focus group of employees with your company for several years to identify which values they believe align with your company.
3. Share your mission and values
If employees don't know what it is or is supposed to be, they can't positively contribute to your culture. Take the time to enlighten your team toward your mission and core principles. Ensure that everyone knows what is required of team members, how the organisation can be led by these principles and, above all, why they matter.
Providing meaning not only makes employees recognise the importance of maintaining values, but also promotes good behaviours. A cohesive, mission-driven community is fostered by understanding how every move relates to larger objectives.
4. Keep communication open
Communication in the workplace is one thing that you do not think about until it becomes a problem. But things can go downhill quickly when this particular problem rears its ugly head. Bad communication leads to uncertainty, miscalculations, oversights, and lapses in judgment, all of which can have a marked impact on a project's pace and efficiency.
Here are four tips on how to keep communication open:
Schedule Regular One-on-Ones
A critical aspect of efficient communication is regularly checking in with employees. Depending on the tenure and capacity of the employee, schedule one-on-ones weekly, bimonthly, or monthly. Use this opportunity to see how they feel, where their projects are, and ask them what they can need from you to do their job best.
Don't Forget Remote Employees
Many administrators are still struggling to find a way to keep contact open with the team members they barely see in person, with about 1.7 million people working remotely in the U.K. While it can seem hard to establish relationships with remote workers, it's not. All you have to do is change your plan. You can do this by using video conferencing, as it helps you understand the way you connect with them by reading their body language and tone of voice.
Ask Feedback from Employees
Taking a top-down communication method will provide you with a minimum of power, but it will not do you (or your employees) any favours in the long run. Instead of making contact a one-way path, ask the workers to give up their opinions and suggestions regularly. This will not only contribute to improved employee engagement; it will also encourage you to make meaningful changes within your organisation.
One of the most important things to ensure the company's success is transparency. Failure to exchange vital data with the workers shows a lack of confidence, leading to some significant mistrust and unrest within the rank and file. Instead, you should share as much data as possible, including financials, c-suite meeting notes, reviews from clients, and new hires. Remember, your staff are smart enough to know how to make better use of this information.
5. Recruit and Hire Carefully
Your culture starts and ends with the people you hire. Before extending a job offer, assessing how well a person melds with your community will reduce employee turnover and create a work atmosphere that contributes positively to the bottom line. Don't concentrate exclusively on applicants' talents and experience during interviews, and ask questions about their personality and work style.
How an employee responds to questions such as "What kind of work environment fits for you best?" and "Would you prefer working by yourself or as part of a team?" will help decide whether they are a good match for the culture you are trying to mould.
Also, promoting from inside remains essential, but don't forget the role of new ideas and approaches outside leadership can bring. Remember that they have to have outstanding track records. So take in people from outside, embrace their beliefs, but make sure they are great.
However, this approach comes with an educated risk that you will easily forget what made you great in the first place when you recruit more individuals with fresh ideas. Understand why your employees love you, and what has made you great. What has driven you to today's achievements? When they work and use new talent to build on them, keep those core values in mind.
6. Provide a pleasant work environment
Encouraging your employees to be loyal ambassadors for your brand starts with their workspace.
Here are three things needed for an effective working environment:
Space for chilling out: It is common sense to leave room for people to go to take a breather, as workers who take breaks are more concentrated, efficient and aware of their goals. As employers, we should allow people to take breaks, both for our employees' wellbeing and our companies' success, and it is a great start to have welcoming rooms for them to relax in.
Space for collaboration: Encourage more motivated conversations by making small improvements to your meeting rooms such as purchase good quality ergonomic chairs and desks. There are tons of suggestions you can look upon on Pinterest.
Space for privacy: Open-plan offices can be perfect for transparency and collaboration, but the need for discretion (whether it is about the private lives of your staff or the finances of your company) dictates the need for some sound-proof space, too. Provide space for H.R./finance meetings and phone calls where possible, which will be available to everyone.
7. Do team activities outside work
Team building activities are one of the ways to get your staff to work together. Many companies overlook team bonding activities either because of the expense or the time cost involved. The physical distance between workers can soon lead to feeling separated, leaving remote employees feeling unsupported and disconnected from those they work with. Ultimately, this can reduce employee wellbeing and even increase staff turnover rates.
Still, the most successful businesses take full advantage of team building activities and reap long-term rewards. Any company will prosper by appreciating your staff and encouraging the development of skills and collaboration.
You may create a virtual office for a remote team building. This is where in the morning the teams log on and work over video as usual. This means casual interaction can flow when the teams are working, and by having each other hard at work, workers can feel inspired.
If you don't think that this option is right for your team, for instance, it might be too big, you may try a virtual break room. It will be somewhere to log in and join the team members over their lunch or tea break, allowing them to catch up like they would in the workplace.
8. Recognise and Reward Employees
Recognition allows employees to see that their company values them and their team's contributions and overall success. When companies grow or change, this is crucial. It allows employees to establish a sense of security in their value to the business, inspiring them to continue outstanding work.
Here are five guidelines for recognising and rewarding employees:
Specify the reward criteria
Frequently, prizes for topics such as "innovation," "showing initiative," and "quality improvement" do not describe what employees need to do to win. Without that information, before they start, some staff will be hindered. Employees may attribute the success of a co-worker to favouritism or luck when a winner is announced. Or, if you give an award on an ongoing basis, such as "employee of the month," they will begin to assume that inevitably everyone's turn is coming up.
Reward everyone who meets the criteria
Determine basic requirements for a longer-term and broader effect and reward anyone who achieves them. Advertise each success and recognise each achiever.
Foster intrinsic rewards
The positive feelings people get from doing their job, the mission's satisfaction, and curiosity about the possibilities and pride in doing a good job are the intrinsic rewards. You can't offer an intrinsic incentive to anyone, but you can create an atmosphere that facilitates these emotions. Ensure people realise that their work is worthwhile, treat challenges as innovation opportunities, inspire people to pursue new ways and let them know when they've done a good job.
Reward the whole team
To reward the entire team, it is necessary for team achievements; otherwise, you encourage competition, not cooperation. Nevertheless, some team members often provide more effort, and there are sometimes members who cruise along on others' efforts. Resentment builds as the coasters get the same reward as the doers. With a double-tiered team structure and individual incentives, some businesses are meeting this challenge. What ties it together is that for individual rewards, the assessors are fellow team members.
You get what you reward. If you're looking for teamwork, make sure that you aren't rewarding competition. Don't reward them for covering up complaints if you want individuals to fix problems. If you ask for the initiative, you may even need to reward people for doing things in ways that make you uncomfortable.
9. Reevaluate your culture regularly
As your company grows and changes, so will your culture. When new faces join your company, this will inevitably happen, so you should be prepared to make purposeful changes. When the company takes off, startups are responsible for evolving overnight, regularly considering society's facets, such as communication style and organisational structure.
Flat hierarchies are typical at startups, but you will need to infuse more structure into your teams to sustain a cohesive culture as you expand. Startup culture values adaptability and is exceptionally versatile, so change is not anything to shy away from. Do not be afraid to make changes.
Poll your employees to retain a pulse on your team's concerns and how they interpret your cultural evolution through employee engagement surveys. After all, without first knowing what is no longer operating, you can't make changes.
Creating a thriving startup culture is crucial. Most of the time, people joining a startup don't do it because of the money. They do it because of the environment, the challenge and the unique culture that can't be encountered anywhere else in a large business.
As much as you concentrate on creating the right culture, the messengers of your values will be those individuals who will join your team at an early stage. Surround yourself with competent, but similar-minded individuals who, over a long time, understand your definition of culture and help you create a successful company.