As the extended research of the past years has revealed, employees are not motivated by financial returns and career only, but also by opportunities to learn, enhance skills, live unique experiences by working in fast-paced environments or building strong professional connections.
But what happens when you, as an entrepreneur, observe that your employees are no longer as vivacious as they used to be and the office laughter is now a memory? These can be signs that your employees have to deal with a low morale which can lead to work apathy, low productivity, poor cooperation, procrastination. The worst case scenario? Your business goals cannot be achieved anymore and everything starts falling apart. Ok, maybe it’s a bit too dramatic, but this can easily happen, especially in a startup.
Know what makes the difference
We all know that an engaged team can provide or lead to higher profitability or increased feedback from customers, so positive morale on startup employees is a mandatory on-going challenge. But leaving aside productivity, it is a matter of care. As we highlighted in our previous article, we entered an era of ”empathy” management. This means to care for all the business peers, not only customer care.
We do business in times of profound structural change when people’s values start shifting towards their inner needs. A startup is not only about being successful as a business, but also about bringing some purpose for those who enrolled for the tough journey lying ahead.
So here are some of the tactics we find meaningful and try to apply ourselves:
Reasons to believe. First of all, as all human beings, we are often driven by the sense that we belong to something larger than us. This applies to the workplace too; everyone wants to feel that the work they put an effort into has, actually, a higher purpose. Make sure that you share the vision of your company in a right way, so your team will understand it and treasure it. This is a way to facilitate the circle of business growth.
Transparency. Studies show that management transparency has a 94% correlation with employee happiness; by trusting your team with important information and details, you can awake a sense of deeper involvement in the company. And that’s good for the manager – employee relationship, isn’t it?
Care. Try to get to know your employees and show you care about them. In a startup, this is one of the most important “tasks” that a manager has to complete. For instance, celebrate each birthday, send them an inspirational email now and then, make a surprise gesture, take them out for lunch or just simply say ‘thank you’. Acknowledging this kind of things is one of the quickest ways for them to gain trust in you and the company. Yes, it’s that easy.
Have fun and keep things light. Even if working in a startup is most of the times translated into ‘a lot of hard work’, this doesn’t mean you are not allowed to have fun. Make your team feel comfortable around you. Go out for a movie, then follow up with a couple of drinks and a good laughter. Do self-deprecating jokes. Play some games. Talk and allow yourselves to discover each other’s particularities. By doing so, you will break the routine and bond as a team.
Recognize the good. This a simple, basic rule of employee engagement: if someone does something really good, tell them. It is very important for your employees to know that their efforts are being acknowledged – this recognition can perpetuate into higher desire to stay in the company and help on its growth.
The members of a team are all different; possess different sets of skills, talents, attitudes, points of view. But if you give yourself the opportunity to learn about your crew’s particularities and what makes them special, you will not face the problem of employee ‘unengagement’. There is no secret. Want to know more than that? Ask your employees what type of things will help them feel more engaged. You might be surprised by how simple the solution could be. No financial costs involved.