The life of a start-up means there are often innumerable roadblocks to manoeuvre, and without a positive, collaborative team spirit, these issues are compounded. Product development delays, slow user adoption and a lack of funding are all very real consequences of poor productivity and morale – not to mention one of the main causes of staff absenteeism. A recent report revealed that sickness absence in Britain costs employers six days per employee per year.
So, it’s vital that start-ups prioritise employee well-being if they want to reach their goals. After all, poor morale leads to low productivity. Here are five ways to ensure you create a healthy, happy work environment for your staff.
1. Make sure everyone is involved
Ensure that everyone is involved in the business by encouraging feedback and, more importantly, listening to it. As well as regular check-ins with your team, another good way to gauge morale is by setting up a central inbox for people to submit anonymous feedback and ideas. This creates an atmosphere of openness and trust, and gives employees a voice on how the company runs, as well as suggestions for product innovation. This kind of activity means input is coming from all levels of the company – not just management.
2. Remind staff what you’re trying to achieve
Start-ups are born of dreams – boosting morale and keeping productivity high is about selling your dream not only to your investors and customers, but to the people who work for you on a daily basis. The key to this is regular communication. Newsletters are the ideal way to share specific, targeted information about new wins and fruitful brainstorms, as well as reminding people of the bigger picture – the company’s goals and mission.
As long as you give employees enough insight to be passionate about the product and their responsibility in helping to achieve the company’s objectives – then the rest should follow.
3. Prioritise personal development
Keeping staff on track with their personal development is all about training, mentoring and coaching. Take a genuine interest in your employees’ future and put steps in place to help them get there. This could involve offering external training, as well as encouraging internal training that employees can run themselves. This develops a culture of learning and knowledge exchange, helping staff to sharpen skills and build their confidence. All employees want to grow, learn, and ultimately become more versatile and valuable to an organisation. If employers don’t prioritise this kind of development, staff will look elsewhere.
Taking time out to recognise when individuals have performed well is another component of this. Giving due praise will further perpetuate the desire to go above and beyond for clients and the business.
4. Take time to get to know your staff and what makes them feel valued
It’s crucial to show employees their value beyond a pay cheque – that they are more than the sum of their work – so recognise the smaller things such as birthdays and work anniversaries.
When leaders disregard opportunities to connect with their employees to show their appreciation, they are neglecting to build a dedicated, long-term team. Regularly check in with every member of the team to get to know them personally – their likes, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. It’s much easier to maintain a contented working environment when employees know you value them.
5. Avoid hierarchies
No business wants to create an ‘us and them’ atmosphere, where decision-making takes place behind closed doors. Empowering employees to have a voice in this process is critical in a smaller start-up environment to avoid exclusivity and to promote freedom among people to take accountability for their work.
Indeed, by increasing transparency about how and why decisions are made helps staff get a better handle on the business model, allowing them to think strategically and be assertive without feeling stifled or overruled by senior management.
Start-ups simply can’t function without the energy and passion of the people that work there – and this comes from feeling appreciated and understood by leadership, not feeling like a cog in a machine. It sounds simple, but an open, honest relationship with employees is a sure-fire way to boost morale and productivity – the lifeblood of any successful start-up.