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Employee Handbook is Key to Keeping Startup Culture Without Losing Investors

Startups, or small businesses still in the development stage, carry both a positive and a negative connotation. On the positive side, startups are associated with young entrepreneurs differentiating themselves from large companies to form unique brands. On the negative side, critics of startups complain that the employees are undisciplined, profitability is low, and the work environment is a liability-filled playground. Startups do not have to dispose of what makes them attractive to talented employees in order to be more appealing to investors. Padgett Payroll Services® believes that a well-structured employee handbook can help maintain a desirable company culture without distracting from profitability.

The stereotype of a startup, if you do not have it in mind already, is a very small company with 50 or fewer people, a casual dress code, the frequent Nerf® war, flexible working hours, a fun work environment, the occasional beer while working and friendly coworkers. While this relaxed culture is attractive to perspective employees, it can turn off investors, who see it as fun coming before work. However, a small business can both have a casual dress code and clearly defined policies for behavior. After all, the goal of a startup is to grow beyond its “startup” status and progress into a fully functional company. This does not mean you have to give up on your trendy office in a downtown city setting, or put on a suit and tie and forgo craft beer breaks. It simply means that while you want to enjoy your job, your main focus should be on achieving your best work at your job.

Company culture at its core is about relationships and attitude. While startups typically thrive on the freedom a lack of rules and boundaries provide, there are hazards of operating without a strong HR influence, especially when the employee population begins to grow. By implementing proactive HR procedures similar to employee handbooks of larger well-established companies, you can set a standard of respect and decency for your employees, and build your ideal company culture. Proper brand training and a healthy work environment establishes your employees’ loyalty to your company, which will cause them to take more ownership and pride in their work. These are some key principles that need to be in your employee handbook:

  • The golden rule applies to everyone
  • Ownership belongs to all of the employees
  • Challenges should be welcomed
  • Secrets make for poor morale: have an open door policy and encourage open discussion
  • Use good judgment in every situation

Obviously you will want to flesh out a more detailed employee handbook for your specific needs, but it ought to be guided by a desire to make your business stronger and the relationships between your current and future employees respectful and cordial.

Remember, you can shape your business policies the way you would like. You can implement casual dress code without forcing everyone to adhere to a 9 hour work-day, or have companywide Mario Kart tournaments, but still maintain a professional demeanor with potential investors. By making it clear to your staff what the boundaries are, you can be proactive in preventing situations that could damage your company’s reputation. Padgett Payroll Services® has been handling payroll services for small businesses for more than 40 years. Our payroll experts will save you time and money, allowing you to focus on your business. Contact us online today, or call us at (706) 548-1040.

Do you have the support you need to manage your small business bookkeeping? Schedule a 30-minute appointment to speak with a local small business adviser.

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