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Sure, startups are exciting.
However, when studies state that almost 90% of startups fail, the excitement can easily turn into fear. To help your startup thrive, you need well-defined structures in place and people who help you ensure they are followed.
As you grow beyond a single-digit employee count, you need someone to take care of the company you are building and this is where HR comes into the picture.
HR is not just a team that hires employees and generates paperwork — your HR department builds the people and the corporate ethos. They help establish company goals, help your employees visualize them, and help them get closer to those goals. This is why HR teams are an indispensable part of startups despite the popular view that having an HR team is only for bigger corporations.
In this blog, we will discuss how your HR team can help build a strong organizational foundation for your startup. Let’s dive in!
Create an HR plan
A big part of setting employees up for success is letting them know what is expected of them. This is where defining their goals play a key role.
HR can create a plan for your employees and define what will be their work’s KPI (key performance indicator). The plan could also include time lines for when these could be reviewed.
This gives your employees a clear picture of how their work would be evaluated and helps them work toward those goals. HR professionals could use an effective employee training plan template to help them in the process.
While creating these plans, don’t forget to include your employees’ perspectives and take in their feedback. Ensure they understand the intention behind such plans and convey that it is in their best interest.
At no point during the HR plan should your employees be made to feel as if they are being scrutinized for their work or being monitored constantly. Make sure it is a learning process for you and them!
Promote company culture
This may look different for growing startups from bigger MNCs. Company culture isn’t just events and celebrations. Company culture is cultivated from the core of your foundation.
Company culture can often take a back seat in startups as founders are too busy ensuring their company takes off in the right market. However, HR professionals can help in building the workspace and culture the right way.
It is not something that just develops over time without effort; it has to be defined in the roots of your organization. Company goals, beliefs, tone, leadership methods and so on must be a well-defined part of the company culture.
HR can help ingrain these into the morale of employees and set the tone for the rest of the organization.
Share an employee handbook
An employee handbook is an initiative that you often see in well-established companies, however, this is equally important for startups. It is not mandated by law but it will help you and your employees in the long run.
An employee handbook is a detailed explanation of the company’s policies, legal procedures, onboarding process, leave policies, holiday lists, and company culture. It will save you and your team time by having every company question they have answered within the document.
Create the handbook by understanding your employees, don’t make it a long document with too much corporate jargon that might make it boring. Instead, use images and real-life examples of how they can use the document. Be sure to write it with a fun, welcoming tone, that makes new employees get a sense of your company’s culture.
This can be especially useful in this post-pandemic world with remote employees. If you want them to feel included and understand your company beyond initial interactions, then an employee handbook is the way to go.
Create a learning and development strategy
Learning is an ongoing process even for your employees. You want them to grow in their current roles, be prepared to take on leadership roles and be a part of a growing team. However, the onus of developing these skills cannot solely be on them.
The HR team can drive this process in a startup where you don’t already have established L&D teams.
Survey your teams and understand what they would like to learn. Understand where they believe they are lacking in their current skill set. Some of your employees may even want to take on a different role. You can help them move to different teams within your company if you can empower them with the right learning tools.
Learning can help boost your employee’s confidence and help them deliver their day-to-day tasks better. You can help strengthen their soft skills as well, this will make them sound much more professional in a client setting and become better communicators.
Additionally, with hybrid working models, learning and development can be a great tool to encourage discussions among colleagues, help them interact virtually, and build a friendly workplace bond.
As a part of learning and development activities, you can encourage different teams to use low-code/no-code tools that increase productivity. For example, customer service teams can build a chatbot using a simple, yet efficient no-code chatbot builder. This way, they can serve customers 24/7 with a chatbot when they aren’t around to answer queries. A chatbot can also help generate leads.
Likewise, your HR team could also build an efficient HR platform using no-code tools such as Airtable, Trello, Zapier, and others. This sets the tone for constant learning and innovation within the company. With budget constraints that can easily become an issue in startups, these are great ways to inculcate learning while enhancing skills.
Build an internal business structure
Defining a business structure from the startup stage is crucial for companies – this helps employees understand organizational hierarchy and policies.
The type of business structure you want to include depends on your company after a discussion with the executives. Once you have decided on the structure, you can map out the different teams.
An internal business structure also defines an employee’s benefits as a part of the company. It can also give them a clear view of criteria for promotions, hikes, performance evaluations, and more.
Ensure employee safety
Employees spend the majority of their hours a day working for a company, therefore you must make them feel safe and are vocal about their rights.
This can include policies that strictly voice out that there is zero-tolerance for any kind of discrimination, harassment, or other negative experiences. Your employees need to know they will be taken seriously and the perpetrator would have harsh repercussions.
Furthermore, you have to define how insurance and matters related to employee health will be treated. Your employees must know that they can rely on you for healthcare benefits, even when it comes to their mental health.
A study revealed that 70% of workers have experienced burnout directly as a result of the pandemic. These are unforeseen circumstances, however, your company must be equipped to handle such sensitive situations well. Your employees must know that they can count on you for help when needed. This fosters a reliable company culture.
Provide pay and benefits assurance
Often, people associate startups with the possibility of instability. This stems from the fact that although 80% of small businesses survive the first year, only 50% of them make it past the fifth year, according to studies on private sector establishments. Therefore, your HR needs to show employees how even though your company is growing and strengthening its foundation, their job is secure.
Transparent communications and processes are key to ensuring that there are no doubts about the company creeping up on your employees. HR must make sure all the details related to payments, employment terms, resignations and even termination of employment are well defined, leaving no room for uncertainties and doubts.
Potential employees need to know that your company follows through with labor laws and compliance measures. This helps employees understand that even though your company is in the startup stages, you will take care of them.
The thrill of being a part of a budding startup building something exciting is best realized when there’s an HR team that understands its employees and helps them set up for success. These tips can help you provide your employees with growth along with your startup.
Additionally, startups are often close-knit groups of people. A startup in the first year of business usually has an average of four employees. This means that until it expands the company will only have fewer people working together.
This is bound to make them interact more closely as opposed to working in a large organization with thousands of employees where interaction is limited. Therefore there are a lot of opportunities for mutually encouraging employees to reach their full potential while being engaged and taken care of. This is why HRs are at the core of building a startup and helping it scale.