When you are starting up, and particularly as you start to expand, one of the most important things you can do is attract and retain good people. People are what make a business, and bring in ideas, innovation, skills and talent that can set your fledgling company apart.
But, for the best people, there is always a huge amount of competition, and they generally don’t have to take the first job they are offered. They may also be the kind of people who know their value on the open market and are always open to other opportunities, even when they have a good job already.
As a startup, you may not be able to pay the most money or offer the best benefits package, so you have to look at the other things that attract and keep the very best staff. This really boils down to being able to offer them a great place to work.
There are actually listings and awards for places that employees feel are the best to work at, with well known companies like Clickbooth that were once tech startups often sweeping the board. So what elements contribute to being seen as a very attractive place to work?
Almost all companies pay lip service to the ‘work life balance’ when they are trying to recruit you, but many don’t really live up to their promises. Sure, they have one woman in HR who works from home on a Tuesday as long as there aren’t any important meetings, so they can tell you that is part of their culture, but the first time you ask if you can do it you’re met with disapproval.
This annoys employees because it is so much easier and better to actually offer this kind of thing – flexible working hours, home working and so on. As a business owner you get the benefit of lower costs and happier staff, and your people won’t jump ship purely because another company lets them spend less time commuting. Look at how you can make it as easy as possible for people to be as productive as possible, and you’ll be moving in the right direction to be a great place to work.
Work and fun may not have traditionally been associated with each other, but these days, especially in sectors like technology and PR, people do expect their workplace to be fun and cool at times. How often do you see people get all excited over an office with a pool table in it or a PlayStation? These are simple things, but they express that you’re keen to have people enjoy themselves when they are at work.
Silly stuff like that is more powerful than you might think. Your employees are certain to tell their friends that in the afternoon you all had a Wii Bowling contest, and if their friends had spent their afternoon in a boring, dry, traditional office cubicle, they’ll probably be wondering when they can start with you!
Another part of this is not to seem like you are trying to remove any potential for fun from their day. Don’t block websites – if they want to check Facebook and you’ve blocked it they’ll just do it on their phones anyway, so you’re achieving nothing but looking like a strict teacher rather than a company that respects their ability to manage their own workload and productivity.
People tend to prefer to work for companies that other people have heard of – it almost makes them feel famous by association. Of course you may not be able to turn your brand into a household name overnight, but if you are very visible on social networks and sharing cool content, your employees will be proud to be a part of all of that. Giving off the right brand image is crucial, because it will also encourage your staff to share stuff you do.
If they are proud that they work for you and think what they do in their day job will look interesting and cool to outsiders, they will happily share and talk about your brand even when they are not at work – effectively, if they feel good about the brand, they’ll be your ambassadors 24/7, whereas if they just see you as the people they work for 9-5 who do ‘boring business things’, they’ll rarely mention your brand in social situations.
Consider some of these things in your office culture, and make your business a great one to work for!