Productivity is the lifeblood of any business, especially a bootstrapped company. Often, many startup owners overwork their employees by expecting long working hours and making extreme demands of them in terms of devotion, multitasking, and effort, just like they themselves might have.
Owners often don’t take into consideration the psychological and behavioural traits inherent in their employees. A founder might share the same blood group or haemoglobin level with his/her employee but is likely to have a very contrasting thought process.
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Having said that, you can’t ignore the learning habits, EQ, and IQ of employees; doing so might well prevent your brand from scaling. Remember, a commander is of no use if his soldiers are depressed or demotivated.
Keeping employees motivated and productive can be a challenging task for a self-made entrepreneur. But following these seven tips can keep their happiness and output at an all-time high.
- Host a white elephant party
Holiday parties are common during Christmas or any other festive season, but a white elephant party can add an exciting level of anticipation and amusement among employees. Every white elephant party I’ve attended had guests howling with laughter. Some employees will strategise to get a coveted gift, while others will go to great lengths to avoid the white elephant party. Your staff will bring their cheerfulness to work with them for a long time to come.
- Innovative interior design and working areas
“You’re still looking so fresh,” my girlfriend exclaimed last night after I returned from office. I replied, “My boss has the best nest in town.”
Natural air with dynamic ambience and soothing colours keep me cheerful even if I might have stuck with the Java Applet for the whole day. Nap regulations with flexible timings help me pour in my best of best to the brand and not feel like an overworked alien.
Short, surprise training sessions
Training is a personality assessment and identification exercise. The test is fun as employees work through it for themselves and identifies different aspects of personality to which projects can then be assigned and not pushed to. This self-awareness building event will help your employees understand and appreciate the different aspects of each other’s personalities and work together beyond a team for your brand.
- Tap your employees’ interests and strengths with open arms
Employees are most productive when they use their strengths at work and are open-minded without fear or anxiety. Tapping into what they excel at will help them feel a personal connection with your brand, which in turn will boost self-motivation. If one employee is interested in Third-World struggles, let them spearhead a clothes-collection drive. Never go by age, some can be mature enough to take decisions that others might not.
- Participate in local games and social activities
Bootstrapped companies often start small and share an intimacy with employees that can be difficult to find in large corporations. Creating bonding time by participating in local games like marathon runs or spreading a cause with an NGO will not only get the blood flowing to the brain to help boost productivity, but also ensure that employees enjoy supporting a good cause.
These activities will help build the brand and act as organic promotion.
- Bring in some doughnuts or surprise goodies
Take some time to show your employees that you appreciate them by bringing in treats like pizzas or doughnuts with you. Employees will appreciate your kind gesture and feel valued if you call them by their first name and hand the treats over to them. A little thoughtfulness from you can increase work efficiency on many levels, leading to a happier work environment.
- Give them some time off
Show gratitude to your employees by giving them some paid time off. It doesn’t have to be much. Let parents take a half day off so they can see their kids at the school awards assembly or attend PTA meetings. Allow someone to go home without docking their hours when they have a cold. Your employees will be grateful.
- Family ties
Most startup employees are fresh college graduates or interns. A mark of a caring employer is to establish a bond with their family members like parents and siblings. You can have a family day or picnic where there is no boundary between the employer and employee and interact with the family members. This creates a bonding between the employee and the brand and also helps in workforce retention.
- Slow down every now and then
The demands of a bootstrapped company are intense. Slowing down a little every now and then can re-energise your employees and your company while ultimately boosting productivity in the long run. Take some time to celebrate success.
Time is crucial, time is money.
I also recognise the fact that it is a startup and not an MNC. Some ideas that are said here might appear absurd. But remember that 7 out of 10 startups fail because they might have done something wrong.
An employer with a friendly and caring attitude settles issues and exercises much better than those behind the glass wall. Bring a different fragrance to your startup story.
Building and maintaining employee productivity and motivation is vital to the success of your company. By following these seven tips, you will ensure that your employees are crucial assets to your bootstrapped company. Fostering a work environment that keeps employees happy and motivated will reflect the foundation of the company and its owner, ultimately leading to success.