How to Build Strong Employee Engagement Into a Startup Strategy

How to Build Strong Employee Engagement Into a Startup Strategy?

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It happens time and again: A startup launches, finds success and grows. As it grows, its workforce begins to suffer from low morale, resulting in low productivity and high turnover rates. While employees might be enthusiastic and engaged when they work for a startup, they tend to become disgruntled and disengaged when that company grows into a larger organization.

If startups are looking to build a constructive workplace culture not just today but into the future, they need to be careful to integrate employee engagement into their business strategy. Fortunately, it is easiest to do this at the startup stage. Here are a few tips for prioritizing employee engagement and ensuring employees remain happy and high-performing as a business grows.

Determine Core Values

Many entrepreneurs spend weeks, months, or even years designing their products and services, researching their target market and identifying sales and marketing strategies to give their startups the best possible chance of success. Yet, these entrepreneurs often neglect a critical component of business operations: their core values. A company’s core values explain the organization’s vision, mission and principles beyond increasing revenues. By outlining core values from the start, entrepreneurs can use these concepts in their onboarding and training processes so business leaders and employees understand and are aligned to achieve shared goals.

The startup period is the best time to develop core values, as this is when entrepreneurs have the most control over the focus and direction of their company. Some questions that can help entrepreneurs create impactful core values that last include:

What distinguishes your company? Entrepreneurs should consider what about their products or services are unique, or how they want their organization to differ from its competition.

Does the mission inform the values? Some mission statements make core values clear. For example, a business working to reduce the environmental impact of its products will likely have core values pertaining to sustainability and community.

Are any behaviors more valuable than profit? It is much easier to make money when a company does not abide by an ethical code, but some behaviors should always be more important than profit.

What values do customers appreciate? More consumers than ever are conscious of the societal impact of their dollar. Over 72 percent of U.S. consumers want the brands they buy from to reflect their values.

Provide Opportunities for Growth

Top talent tends to appreciate the startup environment because when staffs are smaller, an individual tends to have more responsibility, more autonomy, more authority and more opportunities to learn and improve. Still, entrepreneurs need to be cognizant of how they treat their early employees as the business grows. While it might be tempting to continue to hire the best of the best in outside hires, this practice will only serve to build dissatisfaction and perhaps resentment amongst one’s original hires. Instead, as the startup finds success, entrepreneurs should prioritize giving their first workers opportunities to advance up their career ladders, offering training and educational programs that will prepare them for business leadership.

How to Build Strong Employee Engagement Into a Startup Strategy

Build a Culture of Recognition

Employees need more than a biweekly paycheck to feel appreciated by their employer. Entrepreneurs need to understand the value of recognition and build their workplace culture around the recognition to ensure that workers feel seen and heard in the future. An organization with a culture of recognition benefits from deep and pervasive feelings of gratitude from and to all employees. A culture of recognition evolves from business leaders who prioritize providing regular, specific and meaningful recognition for all types of effort and achievement, from employee anniversary recognition to a casual “thanks” after worker presentations. With enough exposure to recognition, the workforce begins to model beneficial behaviors that encourage workers to feel comfortable and engaged.

Seek and Use Feedback

Most business leaders understand the importance of polling their workforce for information to determine important factors — like engagement level. However, the feedback received from pulse surveys, employee interviews and the like should not merely be collected and discarded. Entrepreneurs should make an effort to act on the feedback they receive from their workers, beginning even before their startup launch. By making it a habit not only to seek but to take advantage of the employee perspective, entrepreneurs can make more impactful business decisions while showing their workers that their ideas and opinions matter.

A startup cannot grow without diligent, passionate and engaged employees. Fortunately, entrepreneurs have the power to create programs to maintain the engagement of the workforce for years to come.

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