The average startup employee has 10.8 months of tenure at their firm, compared to 17.5 months for non-startup employees, a Namely study of 20,000 companies shows. As this illustrates, motivating workers to stay with a startup company can be harder than getting them to stick with an established firm.
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Lack of financial resources, lack of human resources, competition from entrenched companies and uncertainty of the company’s future can all contribute to making motivation challenging.
In the face of this challenge, it’s prudent to have a plan in place to keep your team motivated. Here are four strategies to help keep your startup’s workers motivated about helping your company grow.
Screening Hiring Candidates
Cultivating employee motivation begins with the hiring process. If you want to build a company culture centered around strong employee motivation, you’ve got to hire motivated workers.
Unfortunately, many firms start on the wrong foot by hiring unmotivated workers, often because they get fooled during the interview process.
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Forty-six of new hires fail within the first 18 months, according to Leadership IQ, a fact which human resources consultant Jack Sullivan estimates is due to 40 percent of candidates putting on their best faces during the interview process and feigning a better work ethic than they actually have.
To detect such “attitude fraud,” Sullivan recommends a number of strategies you can deploy during the hiring process. One is to assess candidates when they’re not expecting it by giving them a badge identifying them as a potential hire and encouraging other workers to interact with them and look for signs of a negative attitude.
Another strategy is to create opportunities for interaction before and after interviews through tactics such as facility tours and employee shadowing exercises.
Holding interviews with peer coworkers with managers absent is another way to catch spontaneous attitude clues. Other strategies Sullivan recommends include holding onsite activities to assess, asking candidates to force-rank their soft skill set and giving candidates problems that test customer service skills.
Incentivizing with Compensation
Money is obviously a major motivator for employees. In fact, it’s the top reason workers quit jobs, with 70 percent of workers saying low salary is the top reason workers have left employers or have considered leaving employers, according to a Paychex survey.
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In general, startups offer employees higher compensation than average, Namely’s data shows, partly due to the concentration of high venture capital in Silicon Valley. However, not all startups can afford high compensation packages. In this case, there are a couple alternatives you can pursue.
One is offering perks and advancement opportunities, which are two of the next strongest incentives for workers to stay with employers. One perk workers value is education, which you can offer as a stepping stone to advancing within your company or as a step toward empowering your workers to start their own companies. For instance, Amway offers an 80-lesson virtual course in entrepreneurial skills that can impart your workers knowledge they could put to use within your company or independently.
Another option is offering workers future compensation in the form of shares in the company or bonuses that will kick in once company growth passes a certain benchmark.
Creating a Flexible Work Environment
Another perk workers greatly value is a flexible work environment. With an increasing percentage of the workforce facing the responsibility of being a single parent or taking care of an aging parent, and with an increasing range of office tasks capable of being done from home, many workers are highly motivated by the opportunity to work from home or work on a flexible schedule.
In fact, many workers would trade this opportunity for other benefits. Thirty percent of workers say they would take a 10 or 20 percent cut in pay in exchange for flexible work options, while 24 percent are willing to forfeit vacation time, and 18 percent are willing to give up employer-matched retirement contributions, according to FlexJobs data. An overwhelming 82 percent of workers say flexible work options would make them more loyal to their employer.
There are other types of flexible work arrangements you can offer besides remote work. For instance, Netflix offers employees an unlimited vacation option which allows them to take as much time off as they need, which is a perk that can work in environments where productivity is easily measured and employers have a high degree of trust in workers. MindTools uses a Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE) model, where worker output is measured by performance rather than by physical office presence or number of hours worked.
Collaboration is another key to a motivated workforce. Nearly nine out of ten executives blame lack of collaboration for workplace failures, a Salesforce survey found. Nearly four out of ten workers say they don’t collaborate enough at their workplace.
The best way to promote collaboration is by building it organically into your company’s workflow, says talent recruitment platform provider Happie. For instance, incorporating video chat into your company’s communication tools can promote more face-to-face communication between workers. Using open layouts instead of cubicles, rewarding collaboration and supporting a company social network are other strategies to promote collaboration.
Screening hiring candidates, incentivizing with compensation, offering flexible work opportunities and promoting collaborations are four ways you can motivate your startup staff. By implementing these strategies, you can promote higher team morale that will help propel your startup to growth and success.