In order to survive in the short term and succeed in the long run, startups need several things to fall into place, including smart and progressive government policies that empower — rather than impede – entrepreneurs like you.
However, while items like enough working capital and sustainable competitive advantage are permanent priorities, startups also need something else that can be easy to overlook in a hectic, constantly-changing work environment: the ability to celebrate employees.
Indeed, while employee engagement is necessary for all types of organizations, it’s especially crucial for startups since most workers are working long days; and usually, long evenings and weekend as well. Recruiting and retaining based on salary, benefits, and perks like corner offices and company cars typically isn’t an option, and won’t be for a while.
With this in mind, here are five affordable ways to help your startup celebrate wins so that energy levels remain high even when (not if) things get crazy and hectic, and your people stay on-board and on-track:
Recognize employees at stand-up and status meetings.
Instead of announcing or updating what’s been done in a project or with a customer, take a few seconds (and really, that’s all it takes) to recognize employees who helped make them happen. Remember to acknowledge folks who work behind the scenes and in the background.
Let employees earn points for various achievements – both big and small – which they can cash in for rewards and prizes, such as gift certificates. You can also create a leaderboard to foster healthy competition between individual employees, as well as groups and teams.
Celebrate on a party bus.
Gathering your hard-working flock on a party bus is a great way to reward achievement and foster teamwork. You can even pick up each of your workers from home if you want alcohol on board. Just make sure you choose a vendor that has a full party bus fleet for you to choose from, since you don’t want to get crammed into something too small, or pay extra for space or services that you don’t need.
Give ‘em a break.
It may sound shockingly low-tech, but one of the most meaningful things you can do for an employee who has over-delivered is give them some time off. No, we’re not talking days here. Allowing them to cut out at noon on a Friday or come in late on a Monday is often enough.
Say thank you.
Sticking with the low-tech theme: simply saying thank you to hard working employees can do wonders. Or better yet, write them a personalized, handwritten note they can refer to whenever they need a morale boost.
The Bottom Line
As you know, startup culture isn’t glamorous. It’s plenty of sweat and sacrifice. But when the right factors fall into place — including inspired, engaged and empowered employees — then survival is all but assured, and success is clearly on the horizon.