Earlier this year, we had the opportunity to work with almost 150 startups through our Startups Employees Love (SEL) program. Over 50,000 employees from these startups participated in a detailed culture survey and told us what makes them happy and fulfilled at work, what their organisations do well and what could be improved.
From the survey, we gathered an unprecedented amount of data on the startup culture and generated deep insights into how to build it. Allow me to share some quick insights which will be helpful for you as you scale your startup.
- ✅ Sense of Pride: 97% of startup employees feel proud to be associated with their organisations and resonate with the problems being solved. Moreover, 95% of employees have high trust in their teams.
- 🛑 Manager Recommendation: Over 43% of employees will not recommend their managers to their friends. These issues are more severe in larger startups with multiple managerial layers. This is critical since manager effectiveness is the single biggest driver of employee happiness.
- 🛑 Performance Management: This is another area that requires attention. Nearly 27% of employees feel that they do not get people-friendly benefits. Over 20% of employees feel they are not compensated fairly for their contributions. A lot of this stems from a lack of clear frameworks around performance assessment and a lack of understanding of ESOPs.
- 🛑 Innovation: 18% of employees feel held back due to the fear of failure. This is concerning in our world of startups where experimentation and innovation are what helps us move forward.
All these issues have a common trend — they become more severe with scale, especially as the organisation grows beyond 200 employees. So, here is the one important takeaway: Work on your organisation’s culture, starting today!
We understand that as a founder, HR or people leader, you have many priorities, but we would encourage you to consider participating in the Startup Employees Love program (SEL) and start building a strong foundation for your organisation as you scale up. I recognize that times are tough and the cost of HR tech tools can be overwhelming. That’s why the SEL program is absolutely free. Register here to participate in the program.
In conclusion, culture is for tough times and it has been a tough year for all of us. As VC funds dry up, many of us are shifting focus from hypergrowth to profitable growth. There will be difficult choices ahead. This is when your investments towards building a great culture will matter the most.