Is your startup stuck in a rut? You’re not alone.
It’s not a secret that a majority of startups don’t make it. Nearly 90 percent, in fact. Between cash flow problems, lack of leadership, a shortage of situational awareness, hiring misfires, a deficiency of adaptability, and products or services that never reach product-market fit, most startups are playing against a stacked deck.
Then, there’s startup and employee productivity. Assuming the owner(s) of a startup can use productivity tools and their own time efficiently, plan smartly, and organize thoughtfully, the next steps are hiring, effectively communicating a business vision to employees, creating a work culture that embodies their new business, and fostering a productive, efficient, and wholesome work environment. It’s easier said than done.
Let’s get started. Here are five non-task related tips to increase the productivity of your startup:
1. Pay your employees more money
If your company is interested in attracting top talent, paying them higher-than-industry-average salaries immediately pay dividends for several reasons.
First, your employees won’t want to leave after six months or a year. You won’t have to deal with high turnover rates. Paying top talent top salaries is a great way to make sure your startup grows with a nucleus of your choosing.
Your business will experience high level output. When you compensate your employees with higher-than-average wages, you can expect higher-than-average results. Give high-performing members of your startup a raise after work well done, and there’s evidence their work ethic and productivity will rise even higher.
Word-of-mouth recruiting can improve. Combine high wages with other tips on this list, and your startup will begin to make a buzz in recruiting circles. Your current employees are likely to boast of their new position on social media, generating positive online reviews. Soon, you may have too many overqualified applications.
With more financial flexibility comes fewer concerns about professional worth, thoughts about career changes, and worries about medical expenses. Workers can focus more on their projects, making them more present while in the office or on the clock.
2. Invest in your office environment
Whether you have your employees come into the office or allow a remote working arrangement, the area in which an employee conducts their business is crucial to workplace productivity, efficiency, and creativity.
In terms of personal workstations, employees are most comfortable in an environment they can choose, customize, and personalize as their own. Stick a creative mind in a cubicle with a huge stack of papers from human resources outlining what they can and cannot bring into their workspace, and see that mind full of ideas shrivel into a mind-numbing fraction of itself.
Give your employees freedom to make their own workspace. Company computers, printers, branded equipment, and necessary books or documents, should, of course, remain in place.
But what good is it to tell Steve he can’t have an adjustable standing desk or tell Mary she can only have a specific type of keyboard?
Adjustable standing desks have many health benefits according to ergonomic experts at UpDownDesk. So give your employees the chance to customize their workspace with whatever they want, and additionally, foot the bill.
If you have a centralized office, make sure there are different types of workspaces available. Different workers like different things. Have personal spaces for each worker, large meeting rooms with higher-end tech, communal areas for interdepartmental communication, lounges and break rooms as casual areas, and silent rooms for deadline-driven work.
If you offer a remote working arrangement, set an amount of money you’ll pay for a new home office. Upon receiving receipts of purchased items, reimburse the employee up to the agreed-upon amount.
Be careful not to have too much space, and how to digitize your office effectively. Too much, and it will be overwhelming. Too little, and your team won’t be able to do their tasks effectively.
3. Encourage self-care
Want to know the secret to productivity? Getting away from the office.
Startup employees are human beings with human needs. They are not copy-producing, sales-pitching, software-coding robots you get access to 40-plus hours a week. If your employees are taking care of themselves, they will produce more efficient work in the office.
Most startups fizzle out after just two years. Over 90 percent fail when it’s all said and done. One of the reasons? Complete and utter burnout from all levels of the startup.
Think of self-care as fuel for your body. Cars need petrol to drive; humans need self-care to produce and function at a high level. Self-care is an investment in your employees and an investment in the continued productivity of those employees.
Compounding on the analogy above, let’s re-focus on the employee’s body fuel. In this scenario, the employee is running a marathon. Only the employee didn’t sleep, exercise, meditate, eat, drink, or do anything emotionally fulfilling for the previous six months. The employee makes it to about the 30-kilometer mark and falls on the pavement, exhausted. All systems fail, and a team of medical experts is needed to save the employee from chronic and long-lasting harm. Do you think the employee feels productive now? Probably not.
If you neglect self-care as an employee, mental, physical, and psychological stress, as well as internal conflict, will soon pop up. You’ll no longer be able to differentiate work from home or profession from life.
Did you know that startup owners have a 50 percent higher chance of becoming depressed, abusing substances, or becoming bi-polar? Learn what self-care is, implement it in your own life, and lead your team away from burnout.
Open the door for conversation. Do you know how your employees are (honestly) doing?
Offer self-care education. Some people might not know what self-care is, how to implement it, and how to find a routine that works for them.
Offer once-monthly mental health days. Is 12 days out of the yearly 261 workdays an unreasonable amount of time to give to your dedicated employees?
4. Find your culture
Think of startup culture, and you might think of multi-million dollar offices on the bank of some mighty river full of dressed down millennials playing ping pong and drinking beer on Friday afternoons. You might think of bean bag chairs and hammocks with think tank rooms, giant whiteboards, and sponsored Apple computer labs.
While that scene may be appealing for some, company culture is more foundational, and driven from anticipated and expected results.
Whatever culture you want to implement, embody it in the company from the top down. Maybe it’s a relentless work ethic, open communication, autonomy, trust, and creativity. Those are examples of your culture. Unlimited paid time off, flexible working arrangements, and a bright and lively modern office space are actions your company can take or perks you can offer to employees to foster and bolster your culture.
Reward hard work. Positive reinforcement for a job well done gives employees or board members a big smile and a positive outlook for the rest of the day, week, and month. Find a way other than just a gift card to reward employees for a job well done. Think outside the box.
Invest in your team members and employees and offer to pay for educational courses. Everything your team learns will help you in both the short and long term, and it’s a great way to show your employees you’re invested in their future with the company.
5. Donate to charity or a worthy cause
This last one might shock many of you. But it’s not rocket science to see how donating to a charity of your choice could be the best humanitarian and business decisions you’ve ever made.
Want good press? Launch your startup, new product, or new service, and market it so that everyone knows for every $100 sold, you’ll give $1 to one of your favorite charities. They’re all over your neighborhood, city, or country. Pick your favorite. Start your own! You don’t have to be raking in billions of dollars per quarter to start a charitable initiative.
First off, I’ll say it: Businesses shouldn’t have to give back. The money they make is hard and well-earned. However, if you want to start giving back, it has to come from the right place.
That being said, the business benefits are massive. Over 89 percent of responders in the UK and 87 percent of responders in the US said they favor businesses that give back.
More than 70 percent of millennials and Generation Zers said they search for jobs where making is a difference other than contributing to the bottom line is a massive perk in choosing a potential employer.
Humanity loves compassion, and so does the media. With charitable donations of time, talent or treasure, it’s likely you’ll have curious reporters asking you what the deal is.
Not all charitable donations have to be given in cash. By volunteering your time to young people, fellow entrepreneurs, or local food pantries, you not only build comradery within your team, but in your community as well.
Maybe your product or service can help the masses. Perhaps a simple donation of your service, creation, or invention is enough to make a significant difference in someone’s life, someone in need. By showing this kind of compassion, you can use your startup for good. Everyone loves a feel-good story.
Alex Thomas is the co-founder and Managing Director of Breakline – a reputable digital marketing agency. His work has been featured in E27, Hackernoon, ReadWrite, Relevance, B2C and more.
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