Whether or not your Startup is helmed by someone with a heart full of passion and a head full of ideas, at the end of the day it needs employees if it’s going to stay afloat. And the quality of those employees – together with whether or not they’re actually invested in the business – plays a huge role in a venture’s success or failure.
“Employees are like a fulcrum,” writes Michelle Nicholas of Bloomberg. “They can have a tremendous effect on sales and profitability, both positive and negative. One good employee can draw in 100 customers. On the flip side, one bad employee can drive away 100 customers.”
The good news is that populating your startup with awesome employees – people who’ll bring in sales, develop successful products, and generally make your organization great – is actually a lot easier than you’d think. It’s really just a matter of ensuring you’ve something that appeals to the sorts of people you want to attract. That’s what we’re here to talk about today – what are the best employees in any given industry looking for?
Let’s get started.
A Great Company Culture
Very few people dive straight into a career as an entrepreneur. Most startup founders have held at least one job before building their dream business (or at the very least, an education). What that means is that many startup founders have probably had to deal with at least one toxic workplace.
The office where everyone sits clacking away at their keyboards every day from nine to five. The retail outlet where the employees only hate one thing more than each other – the customers. The tech firm which pits the IT department in a no-holds-barred showdown against everybody else.
These are the places where nobody wants to work. At best, they’re just jobs. At worst, they’re emotional pits that most people can’t wait to hop out of.
If you really want to attract the best in your field, your culture needs to be one of cooperation, collaboration, and passion. You need to recognize your employees for their achievements, encourage productivity, and emphasize quality. Otherwise, there’s little to distinguish you from every other Mcjob on the market.
“Every organization, from small businesses to large corporations, has a culture,” reads a piece on Chron written by Luanne Kelchner of Demand Media.”In a business with an unhealthy culture, employees act as individuals, performing their duties to meet their own needs, such as a paycheck or health benefits. A healthy corporate culture values each employee in the organization regardless of his job duties, which results in employees working as a team to meet the company’s and their own personal needs. Healthy corporate culture improves the performance of a business in a number of areas.”
Management That Knows What It’s Doing
Although it’s technically a component of company culture, the management staff at your startup certainly bears mentioning here. Good managers foster positive company culture. They seek innovation, reward productivity, give everyone their fair due, and actually keep their word.
They also know how to do their jobs.
“It’s pretty incredible how often you hear managers complaining about their best employees leaving,” writes Travis Bradbury of Entrepreneur. “Managers tend to blame their turnover problems on everything under the sun, while ignoring the crux of the matter: people don’t leave jobs; they leave managers.”
I should clarify – I’m not talking about financial benefits. While pay certainly does factor into the equation, the majority of employees who find work at a startup aren’t necessarily looking for a big, beefy paycheck at the end of the day. Instead, they seek opportunities and experiences.
According to Fast Company, these may include:
- Variety of work
- Greater responsibility
- Lessons from innovators
- Greater recognition for one’s job
- Unique job opportunities.
So while you should certainly be willing to pay your employees a decent wage, don’t forget about the real reason many of them are there.
Location, Location, Location
Last, but certainly not least, where your company is situated will determine the quality of employee it attracts. Consider the example of Ion Storm Dallas, developer of the legendarily-bad video game Daikatana. Although there were plenty of reasons the company failed – mismanagement at the top was one of them – a big part of their issue was the fact that they set up shop in a city where the games industry was a fledgling field, at best.
As a result, any developers they brought on basically had to be flown in from out-of-state, and their salaries had to be increased in kind.
Your company is only as good as the people it employs. Remember that when you set out to do your first hiring run for your startup. But don’t stress too much about it. Provided you offer an awesome culture and decent benefits – and provided you’ve set up shop in the right place – you shouldn’t have any trouble at all attracting exactly the people you need.
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