The first few employees of your startup are creating your business values and its overall culture. Every business has a few things that make them different. Culture hacks are unique to every company. They are defined by the type of people they hire, the environment that those people create and the type of things they value.
Improving the overall experience at work can have a huge impact on growth. How people within a new business, or startup, work together speaks a lot about the core values the company upholds.
What works for Buffer may not necessarily work for Hubspot. Beth Steinberg’s six components of a great startup culture sums up what your new business needs to create a healthy and productive environment for work.
1. Transparency and open communication
This concept seems basic, but often systems and processes at companies are not known to employees. The more employees understand how and why things are done, the greater their trust in the company becomes. The philosophy behind a company’s management (compensation practices, performance management criteria, resource allocation, and project “green lights”) should be as clear and as consistent as possible.
When practices are not clear, it leaves employees wondering what went into the decision-making process. Lack of transparency by a company’s leadership can impact organizational trust, consequently impacting employee effectiveness and productivity.
2. Team focus
When employees share information and work to support one another, they tend to take more responsibility for their roles, as well as feel better about the company for which they work. Companies that stress the importance of team through bonus programs and other metrics tend to foster employee camaraderie and better working relationships.
3. Challenging work / Job design
Employees want to know that their work matters to the overall success of the company. Therefore, it is important that jobs are designed in a way that their value and impact is clear to the employee. Job design and clarity of contribution can make a big difference on productivity.
4. Culture of accountability
Clear roles, responsibilities, and accountability are a key element in functional company cultures. Rewarding subpar performance or bad behavior can significantly impact company culture.
In a perfect world, people resources should align with projects and revenue growth. Adding and subtracting headcount is often a very complicated issue. Too many employees can result in high fixed costs and the potential dilution of responsibilities, while too few can result in burnout and resentment.
New products and projects can take a larger investment in people initially, but should eventually align with sales and revenue growth. When the growth does not follow, layoffs and reorganizations usually occur.
6. Open feedback systems
Driving employee engagement through feedback and development will result in happier, more motivated employees. Most employees crave feedback and really want to know how they are doing, but traditional performance management systems typically do not work. They are seen as a “check off,” but the process is often too arduous to be truly meaningful.
According to Dharmesh Shah (Co-founder of HubSpot), these culture hacks have made significant contribution to the growth of HubSpot:
1. Unlimited vacation (with a 2 week minimum)
2. No offices for anyone.
3 Every quarter the product team goes through a random desk shuffle.
4. Any employee is allowed to take someone out for a meal that they feel they can learn from. No limits. Easy-breezy
5. You can send a request for a Kindle book directly to Dharmesh Shah and he fits to you (no expense sheet)
6. Simple, light-weight peer-to-peer bonuses
7. Recognition given out based on our cultural attributes (HEART)
Buffer’s radical transparency culture
Unlike other companies of its age that closely guard their financial and product-focused metrics, Buffer is open, sharing its vital signs with the world, almost radically so.
The company publishes a regular report detailing the growth in its userbase, its revenue, total cash position, and more. Every month. And not just regular transparency, but a transparency that goes above and beyond what a regular company is comfortable with. They’ve published the formula they use to calculate their salary and also the salaries of their entire team.
Unlike a traditional company that hides salary information so their employees stay in the dark, adopting the policy of “ignorance is bliss“, Buffer embraces transparency, addressing issues of perceived under/overcompensation as they come up. Being open about salary forces a company to be as fair as possible.