One thing that matters most in any startup is its human resource. Hiring and retaining the right kind of talent is one of the most important goals that any startup founder hopes to achieve, while simultaneously planning to expand the startup. Often, conventional HR policies don’t work in a startup due to dynamic factors that play a key role in its functioning. Employees working in a startup have aspirations at multiplelevels and the biggest challenge for a founder is fulfilling all of them at once.
At DesiDime.com, we have so far followed six offbeat HR tactics listed below:
We had been sitting on a few ideas for quite a while but could not execute them due to the never-ending mainstream tasks. So, when we felt a bit of boredom and stagnancy setting in in our developers’ team, we decided it was time to work on some of those ideas for a change. That is how, Developers’ Month came about, in which our developers were divided in to small teams of twomembers and a head each, and a mini project was assigned to each team. These projects had to be planned and executed by each team in the traditional way, starting with requirement gathering, followed by a plan of action and the final execution. This special developer-centric activity fulfilled objectives like promoting pair programming, ensuring that everyone got to work on something completely new, developing leadership skills among subordinates and a chance toproudly deliver mini projects by the end of the month. It was like hitting three birds with a single stone. By the end of it, we successfully broke off monotony, we had four new and exciting updates for our product and a more confident and enthusiastic developing team.
Weekly self-learning hours
As a start-up, when you hire young, energetic people, you may want to retain this dynamism and desire for growth, because it will eventually translate to greater efficiency in their work. At DesiDime, we try to preserve this by allowing them to learn and acquire knowledge about new things, which they always wanted to but could not because of lack of time and opportunity. Thus, during our weekly two-hour self-learning sessions we see an SEO expert enhancing his skills by learning about the latest developments in his field, a business development executive taking up Social Psychology or anSME challenging himself with some basic programming.
Make a Wish
You often hear people saying they would love to work with XYZ company, because it gives its employees some super-fast machines to work on, or because it has a great cafeteria, gym or some such other thing. While such things may not be directly related to increasing productivity of the employees, they do work on a deeper, psychological level. They are just a kind of fixation, which ultimately become the employee’s individual driving force. So now every month, we ask one employee to make a wish aloud for himself/ herself, and demand something that they aspire for in their ideal workplace. And nowthanks to ‘Make AWish’, some people in our office are strutting about with a MacBook, while others enjoy a relaxing massage during breaks when work gets too hectic. This initiative leads to wish fulfillment of the workforce, bringing them closer to their idea of the “perfect” job and ultimately stimulating their zeal to contribute their best for the company.
Periodic Ice breaker sessions
When you begin with a handful of a team it is a much more close-knit unit like a village, where everybody knows everybody. But as the start-up begins growing steadily, the talent pool starts swelling and people are divided in to different teams, with separate managers to report to. Eventually, bonding between employees starts declining, especially among the newer ones and the more introvert types, who would have been comfortable speaking out in a 10-member group but become awkward in a 30- member crowd. This is where periodic ice-breaker sessions help, as they not only help encourage interaction between different teams but also help in colleagues voicing out concerns and issues in a fun way. For instance, we regularly have fish pond sessions, an open forum where messages can be addressed to team members and the management without revealing your identity.
Of course, everyone gets paid for the work they do, but when they go the extra mile to deliver more than the set expectations out of their sheer drive for excellence, the least you can do is to applaud and reward it in words or gestures or both.Considering this, every quarter one of our employees is selected for the‘Rooster Award’ for his/her exemplary performance in the previous quarter. The winner gets a beautiful cup to flaunt on his/herdesk for the next three months, thus inspiring themselves and others around them. This has encouraged healthy competition among employees and given them a solid motive to keep-up the enthusiasm of doing their best.
Ability to decide own targets
When work is assigned to you, it feels like a burden, often heavier than you can carry, whereas when you are urged to set your own goals, you take them as your integral responsibilities and start challenging yourself. Thus, at our start-up everyone in the company gets an opportunity to decide his/her own quarterly targets, under the supervision of their respective managers. The flexibility to set their own targets not only helps an employee develop an entrepreneurial mindset but also gives the opportunity to understand his/ her own abilities.
Image credits: http://www.shutterstock.com/
About the author
Mehul Jobanputra is the CEO and Co-founder of DesiDime.com, India’s largest online shopping community to discover the best deals and coupons.