by Lior Levin
When you work in a startup, the hours are long and the work can be punishing. You might make decent money – or be in the running for a great payoff later – but the initial investment of time and energy that goes into a startup can be difficult to deal with. While there is nothing wrong with making money and using it to buy the things that you enjoy, so many of us don’t feel satisfied with the current state of affairs. Few of us find that just making money provides deep meaning in life. Working at a startup can magnify these feelings after a while.
Think about the number of people you know who hate their jobs. How many of your friends and relatives feel that they go to work every day in an emotionally draining environment? In a startup, with the hard work and long hours, the problem can be even more difficult to overcome. As a startup, if you want to avoid burnout in your employees, you need to give them the chance to do work they consider meaningful.
As an entrepreneur with a startup, consider this: Over the past two centuries, advances in production and productivity have ensured that many of us have what we need, and that we even have a great deal of what we want. As a result, many of us expect a little more self-actualization from our work. Indeed, there are studies that indicate workers are happier and more productive when they enjoy their work.
While money will always be a reason to work, it helps to have a reason beyond financial compensation. Startups can attract high quality employees by providing a work environment that helps them feel as though they are accomplishing something greater than themselves.
Creating a Values-Driven Startup
Most people want to feel as though they are accomplishing something when they go to work. A number of startups are starting to recognize that operating by core principles and values can make the work environment more attractive to employees. Startups like Eventbrite, Sharethrough and Automattic all set forth core values that define their products and services, as well as guide their companies.
On top of that, a values-driven startup encourages its employees to adopt – and live by – the core values that define the company’s mission. The idea is to frame your business in a way that makes a meaningful difference in others’ lives, and helps them feel that they work they do somehow creates a better world — or at least doesn’t make the world a worse place.
People are attracted to workplaces that fit their values. A company that allows them to feel as though what they are doing each day fits with their own goals and the values they hold dear, will find their jobs less soul-sucking and they will be better at them. If you want to improve your work environment, and start a company that offers customers and workers alike a product or service they can believe in, there are some things you can do to ensure that your startup offers a work environment that others want to be part of:
Inspiring Vision – Create an image of what you want your company to look like and what you want it to accomplish. A values-driven startup isn’t just about making money from consumers. It’s about providing meaning.
Defined Values – Determine which values will help you reach your company’s vision. Define the values that will make your startup able to provide the framework for achieving the visions.
Strategy – Create a company strategy that will help you achieve your vision for your products and services. Put into place a plan that can help your startup achieve its vision as well as provide a valuable product and/or service.
Encourage Employees to Live Values – Your startup’s environment should be one that encourages adherence to values. Company processes, and day to day routines, should reinforce the values of your startup. Some values-driven startups even require new employees to sign an affirmation that they will abide by the values of the company when they sign employment contracts.
It’s possible to create a good environment for your employees, and a happy worker is one that is more likely to give his or her best. By creating a set of values and adhering to them as a company, you can give your employees a sense of accomplishment – and provide yourself with enhanced meaning.