Over the last decade, terms like ‘startup’ and ‘unicorn’ have got business circles in the country buzzing. Startups like Oyo, Zomato, Nykaa and Flipkart have made formidable growth leaps, both in India and abroad. However, India’s startup ecosystem doesn’t stop there. And apart from these well-known companies, there are also countless other young and promising startups that have the potential to follow in the footsteps of the abovementioned ‘Big Daddies/Mommies’, as long as they continue to do a few key things the right way. All these well-established startups have been constantly evolving through the years, and one of the key reasons behind their continued success is the culture they have managed to inculcate within their organisations.
It is safe to say that strong startup culture can affect the working of a business. Many people believe that ‘Startup Culture’ is all about weekend parties, employees playing pool during breaks, or sitting on a bean bag while working creatively. But the real perks of a strong startup culture may actually look a little different.
A strong startup culture includes people working together in a workplace with open communication, a flat hierarchy, flexible working hours, and a free flow of creativity and passion among team members. This culture builds a sense of responsibility, ownership and enthusiasm amongst employees and the core team. Apart from this, startup culture also focuses on providing wellness benefits and stipends to the team.
Why is developing a strong culture important for a startup?
Before diving straight into the concept of building a strong startup culture at your workplace, we should start with the basic idea of what a startup is.
A startup is a company developed by an individual or a core team. The motive behind initiating a startup is to provide the best services in the market. Multinational companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon etc., were initially startups built to provide solutions that had the potential to change dynamics around the world. Initially, and from the outside, startup culture may not seem very important. But, when you start developing your startup into a recognisable entity, hiring a strong core team is essential. Here’s where the startup culture comes in. Your workplace must have a well-defined culture that is meant for every person working under the same roof.
Proper work culture is supposed to be the foundation of a company. It acknowledges the efforts of employees and develops better relationships between coworkers. Startups with a developed work culture have shown more productivity and a higher success rate. Most importantly, your business’s culture should reflect the personalities and ideologies of you and your co-founders (if any).
Big companies that have benefited from strong work cultures –
- Google – Google was one of the first companies to inculcate a well-built work culture. Its work culture is called ‘Organisational Culture.’ This type of work culture is known to promote innovation and openness among the employees.
- Twitter – They have a motto, ‘We’re not perfect, we’re people.’ Twitter’s work culture includes a working hours time slot of fewer than 8 hours, while the core community can only work for as long as 12 hours. They are respectful and supportive as a team. For years, the work culture has developed a sense of belonging in the employees towards the organisation, resulting in the constant growth of the company.
- Zappos – Zappos works to satisfy its employees and customers with the best services possible. Their working environment follows a customer-centric culture. Their work culture expresses the core values and purpose of the team. The company even offers $2000 to any employee if they feel the job is not right for them in the first week of joining.
- Nike – The work environment at Nike is centred around creativity and innovation. Employees are supported and encouraged, and therefore the company continues to scale and grow every year. Nike promotes a healthy lifestyle by providing sports and gym facilities to its employees as well.
Many organisations have understood the importance of work culture or startup culture to promote productivity and employee efficiency. A company where employees are benefited from small perks like incentives, game breaks, flexible work hours, a system where their opinions are heard, and where their complaints are addressed; result in these employees developing a sense of belonging in the organisation and responsibility in respect of their work.
Tips for installing a strong culture within your business/startup
Every company has its own sense of values, and to promote your intentions and values, it is important to establish them within the culture of your company. We have listed below some tips for building a work culture that can benefit the company in the long term, as well as enhance the stability of the organisation.
Identify your company’s values.
The most important part of your work culture is that it defines your unique purpose. While starting a business. you must think about a work culture that showcases the values of your company. The right way to treat your employees is to build a set of ethics and values that align with the motto of the company.
Once you have created the values and ethics to be followed in the company, reward the ones with the best results and encourage others to do the same. This way, employees will work productively and attain the best results.
Be transparent from the beginning
If you are willing to successfully implement a strong work culture in your organisation, be transparent right from the time the employee is hired. When a potential employee is willing to join the company, make sure you describe the basic work culture at the very beginning. Whether you are offering a gym membership, health insurance, or free meal, if you are clear from the start, it will be easier for the employee to adjust according to the culture in the place, resulting in better outcomes and revenue generation.
Follow your own work ethics
As the saying goes, a culture is formed by a leader, followed by the employees, and regulated by HR. Work culture transcends the hierarchy of the company, and if you wish your employees to follow the culture, show them how it works.
If your work culture is employee-friendly and does not promote any inappropriate behaviour, then the manager and founder must also follow the same. Cultivating self-discipline in your workplace is the best way to promote the work culture among your employees.
Ensure that employees’ opinions are heard and complaints are addressed
It’s essential that a free-flowing process for dialogue between your employees and yourself is established. When the team feels like their opinions are being heard and valued, and their concerns or complaints are being addressed, they understand that they are of value to your organisation.
Very often, this results in employees developing a sense of ownership for the organisation. They then operate with an understanding that their own success is linked to that of the organisation’s. Similarly, it’s important to have a foolproof system for complaint redressal. When employees see that their complaints are being addressed and resolved, they know that their satisfaction is important to the organisation, and will likely reward the business with their dedication and loyalty.
Evaluate and re-evaluate your culture
Great work culture in an organisation affects the loyalty and motivation of your employees. This culture is best established at the start of the company’s life, but as people and talents keep joining the organisation there could be some changes that seem necessary. While creating a work culture, there should be room for growth, and the best way to connect with your employees is to ask for their involvement. Changes must be incorporated when you wish to continue on your path to success.
How bad culture can affect a business’s prospects
The influence of a strong work culture is remarkable. While a good culture can help encourage employees and identify their talents, bad work culture can adversely affect the business at its core. Here are some downsides to having a poor work culture in a business.
- When employees are not dedicated to the company and its policies, it will result in poor client management. Not conversing with clients positively and productively will drive your customers away.
- Rumours, gossip, low motivation and employee engagement are the results of bad work culture.
- An uninterested or frustrated employee could create a bad reputation and image for the business, affecting customer or client satisfaction.
- Bad work culture also negatively influences the rate of absenteeism.
- An organisation with improper management and a toxic work environment results in higher employee turnover.
What does the future of good work culture look like?
There are many startups and organisations in the world that encourage an ethical and influential work culture. Though many companies still lack a healthy working environment for their employees, they can still learn from some of the best companies in the world. The best examples in the field are Netflix’s and Google’s work culture.
Talking about Netflix’s culture deck, this is a simple manifesto created by the decision-makers of the company. The core philosophy behind Netflix’s work culture is ‘People Over Process’. Their work culture is very flexible, fun, collaborative and result orientated. Netflix has proven to be the business with the most progressive work culture, and this has resulted in constant scale and growth over decades.
Netflix’s employee culture motto (as mentioned above) should be sacrosanct for all businesses. Once employees feel supported and valued, the result is often more production, profit, and efficiency accompanied by a low turnover and attrition rate.