How Startups Motivate Employees and Keep them Happy

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Dec 18, 2020

Dec 18, 2020 • by Rebecca Smith

Being in the startup world seems way different from working in an established company. This is because plans and priorities can easily change. They don’t have clear processes for pretty much anything. This process will involve learning at the same time as your employees.

The learning curve is going to affect everyone, and there will be failures. You need to accept this. The best thing to do is embrace change, celebrate the failures, and encourage those in your team to have a voice. If you do this, you are going to succeed.

One thing that makes the startup life brilliant is uncertainty. It comes with a lot of opportunities and a wealth of flexibility. You are the head of a business that needs to learn to roll with the punches, and this gives you the chance of creating the ideal working culture by living and breathing the values you consider important.

Below are some ways of keeping your team motivated

Hiring Passionate People

Most startup teams are small, and this means each member of the team has a role to play in the success of the company. You should have employees who are passionate about the work and invested in the success of your startup. You need an employee who is happy to go the extra mile.

The needs of the business are going to ebb and flow, making it important to have a team that is up to the task and is ready for the pressure and working irregular hours from time to time. It is a good idea to bring up this topic during the interviews so that the prospective employee can know what life is going to be like when they work for your startup.

Having employees who are very passionate about their work and the success of your startup is one of the best things in the business world.

Leading by Example

As the founder of the startup, your dream is what has gotten it where it is so far, and you need to nurture this.

Let the passion and enthusiasm for your work show. You need to be engaging with your team in open discussions so you can know what they are thinking and letting them take part in the exciting adventure you have started.

It is inspiring and infectious to work with someone very passionate about their work. You should become the beacon of enthusiasm and positive energy because it is going to inspire your employees.

Encouraging Health and Wellbeing

Whether it's an environment where staff are encouraged to meditate once a day, or one where there is a monthly massage or even one where the company has installed filtered water systems like this filter. Hydration is truly important for concentration and wellbeing and by filtering tap water you remove impurities as well as making water taste better. Encouraging health and wellbeing can make a notable difference for a workforce. 

Encouraging Constant Communication

This is a cliché for most people, but communication is very important. It is a good idea to have an open and honest conversation with your team because it is going to help in learning, sharing ideas, and overcoming challenges that might come up.

You should be asking your team for feedback and sharing plans and ideas. Another way is organizing regular information catch-ups, welcoming suggestions, and highlighting the success that has come as a result of ideas from your team.

It is important to keep those conversations flowing, whether it is in-person, online chats, or video calls. You can get a lot of fresh ideas from it and you get different perspectives from your team. It also helps in keeping the team feel like they are part and parcel of your business discussions.

Empowering Your Team

One of the greatest things you can ever do as a leader is ‘empowering’ your team. There is a reason why you have that person in your team, so you should show faith in your employees by giving them the autonomy to do their job.

You may need to get new employees on board by guiding them when they are starting out, but everything falls in place once they know the ropes. They need to know that you will always be there ready to help them if they need support, but they need to know that you aren’t micro-managing them.

It is important to help your employees with their professional development. To do this, have a clear company mission and set achievable goals. You should offer praise where it is due and provide your employees with regular constructive feedback.

When the employees feel like you trust and have confidence in them, they are going to take ownership of their work, and this is going to help the business succeed.

Creating a Safe Space to get Involved

It is important to create a safe space because it will help to empower your team. You should develop a working environment where the team feels comfortable voicing their opinions, ideas, and concerns without having to worry about ridicule or blame.

A good way to do this is to promote innovation and celebrate failures. They should know that failure is part of the learning process and you accept it. The team will be able to test new ideas while challenging the status quo.

When you have a no-blame culture in your workplace, everyone has the chance of focusing on ‘what next’ and not ‘what happened’, which can be the difference between a great product and a good product. When you experience failure, analyze it, learn from it, then move on.

Paying a Fair Salary

Budgets are often limited in a startup and this is why it is hard for them to offer high salaries in the beginning. Paying fairly is very important, but research has shown it isn’t always about the money. There are many other ways of attracting great employees and keeping them motivated.

Salary is still going to be a major factor when it comes to employee motivation, which is why you need to recognize a fair market value for the talent in your team. You cannot expect an employee to be passionate and engaged with the business plan when they have to worry about paying their bills and surviving.

You should be reviewing salaries and having honest discussions with your employees in in-person meetings. This will help in managing expectations and highlighting where pay needs to be adjusted.

Investing in Team Time

A powerful emotional perk a business offers is making people feel like they are part of the team. Employees can decide to stay in the startup for longer because of the people. It is a good idea to have your team know each other and bond outside the working environment.

When the team has time where they get to know each other in social settings, it is going to spill over to the work environment. It encourages them to exchange ideas, open up dialogue, and makes delivering feedback between team members easier. This can be done through team days out, encouraging sports and sports teams after work or even cycle to work schemes where people commute on bicycles together

You should always look for an excuse to get your team to socialize. You can take them out for much after hitting a milestone, celebrating team birthdays with cake, and setting aside a budget for social events.

You should find out what your team likes by asking them. The last thing you want is to force your team to have fun.

Offering Genuine Flexibility

Employees today are looking for a working culture offering flexibility and a healthy work-life balance. Remote working has become part of professional life, it has become a must to offer flexible hours for your employees. 

Whether it is compressed hours, flexitime, job sharing, or remote working, it is important to offer your employees flexibility that caters to their individual circumstances. 

When you take a flexible approach, it creates a give-and-take environment where your employees are going to feel more invested, and this means they can go the extra mile when need be.

Getting to Know Your Team

You should create time to use in getting to know more about your team. Do this on an individual level. You are going to learn what motivates your employees and how they work best. You will then know the best way to support your employees and create an environment they enjoy.

Are your employees happy about working on urgent tasks at the last minute or do they require more time for planning? Do they like background music when working or do they prefer a quiet environment? These questions will help you create the right culture.

You should also find out their passions and interests. You might be surprised at how someone’s side gig or hobby might feed into your goals, provide inspiration for team socials, and inspire new products or services.