Charles Brecque

Charles Brecque


March 6, 2024

How to Improve Employee Happiness in Your Startup

This article outlines the different methods which can be implemented in the workplace to improve employee satisfaction.

How to Improve Employee Happiness in Your Startup

It’s no secret that happy employees lead to an improved workplace environment and, in turn, better performance outcomes and productivity

However, it’s sometimes understandably difficult to know just how to achieve that, and this might result in additional stress on you as founder or CEO.

If you’re at the end of your rope trying to improve workplace morale at your startup, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll explore different strategies to keep everyone feeling their best.

These strategies encompass a wide variety of aspects of your startup, such as those that:

  • Encourage communication, transparency, and inclusivity
  • Provide opportunities for professional growth, rewards, and benefits, all while emphasising healthy work-life balance
  • Create a productive and supportive work environment that equips workers with the necessary tools.

Let’s dive into what these mean so you can get your new business on track and have a good measure of your employees experience.

Encourage Open Communication and Feedback

When you’re building a startup, it’s easy to get carried away in your passion and become laser-focused on growth. This sometimes leads to the dismissal of others' ideas, especially if they don’t align with your vision.

However, it’s important to make your employees feel heard. 

Although it might be initially challenging, make sure to welcome input and exercise a conscious effort to incorporate your employees’ ideas. This is especially the case for decisions that affect staff day to day.

It’s fine not to take every opinion on board! Just make sure that you express gratitude for their input and explain why you think going in a different direction is better overall.

Listen as well to feedback, especially complaints, with a sympathetic ear. Knowing you’re listening and making conscious improvements where necessary will help boost employee morale and satisfaction.

Provide Opportunities for Professional Growth

People are more driven by personal goals than organisational ones, so make sure these align! Give employees a clear, achievable plan for advancement, so they know what to work towards and aim for.

Feeling stuck in a job is a leading factor of unhappiness. You want your staff to know that they will have plenty of opportunities to grow professionally alongside the business and that you’ll support them in their journey. For instance, as we live in a digitally driven society, it could become crucial to learn about tools and applications that assist in the way we work. One such tool that photographers and graphic designers in your firm could get acquainted with is Picsart, a popular AI photo editing platform. This could help improve their editing skills and increase their productivity, thereby providing a path for professional growth.

If there are no current opportunities for promotion, make sure to still provide ongoing training to facilitate employee upskilling. For example, you could ask them to take a Spanish language course that will eventually help them join your international team or sell to a Spanish-speaking audience. Additionally, give them a set time frame for when such opportunities are likely to arise.

Praise and Reward Employees

Give just as much feedback for a job well done as you would for a mistake, if not more! Receiving praise and acknowledgement for good work is a massive morale booster (as well as encouraging that standard of work to be upheld in the future.)

Celebrate the wins with your staff, no matter how small, and show your appreciation through performance incentive schemes, bonuses, or other rewards. You want your staff to feel appreciated and valued for their time and effort. With Empuls employee recognition software enables managers and peers to recognise and reward employees for their contributions and achievements. Additionally, consider presenting personalised trophies and awards for special events to further recognise their exceptional accomplishments. Showcase your employees internally using beautiful AI headshots so that they feel pride and ownership with their work for the company.

Cultivate a Positive and Uplifting Work Environment

Try your best not to promote competition between your employees, as this can lead to resentment and hostility. Instead, work to create an environment that promotes cooperation, where helping one another becomes preferable.

Hosting out-of-work events such as meals or activities will help your employees bond and lead to better communication and higher spirits. 

Make sure to schedule regular check-ins and work to resolve any ongoing issues with compromise and compassion.  For ongoing communications to go smooth, you may consider integrating WhatsApp business into your operations.

Foster an Inclusive Workplace Culture

It’s important to be sensitive to and understanding of the variety of needs your employees may have. Employers should strive to make reasonable adjustments for all employees needs.

Be sure to educate yourself about diversity and inclusion, including attending training sessions if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Even recognising and expressing that you’re doing your best to educate yourself will go a long way.

As your startup grows, you’re sure to get all sorts of people on board, and promoting this will help both workplace happiness and add the value of a wide range of experiential and cultural perspectives to your team.

Using inclusive language, having an open focus on diversity and inclusion in your mission statement, and providing a safe space for employees will all help your business towards these goals. 

Practice Transparency and Integrity

No one likes feeling out of the loop. Having transparent and easy-to-understand procedures will put your employees at ease and make everyone feel like an equal team member.

Make sure not to make promises you can’t keep, and always stick to your word, especially when in regard to promotion, pay, and other incentives. By reneging on promises, you risk losing integrity and appearing wishy-washy in front of your team.

You want your employees to know that they can rely on you and that they can engage in open and honest communication at any level.

Provide Comfortable and Well-Equipped Space

You want the physical work environment to be just as welcoming as the atmosphere you cultivate, so make sure to have everything your employees might need during the day or when at home. It is important to keep the workplace is adequate from a health and safety perspective.

Listen to people’s comments and requests about what they’d like to have around.

You want to be well-equipped with mental tools as well. Have strategies on hand for conflict resolution and other difficult conversations and attend training where necessary.

Emphasise a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Not having a satisfactory work-life balance is a prime cause of employee unhappiness and burnout. 

Have reasonable expectations around working hours and don’t contact employees outside of those hours unless it’s been prearranged (and with the express consent of your employee).

Offering flexible work-from-home options and lifestyle leave are also great options if they’re viable. If you provide the option for remote working, employers should ensure they equip their employees.

Time demand can be high when getting a startup off the ground but never compromise on a healthy work-life balance as this is key for long-term sustainability. 

If you know there’s going to be a busy period, make sure to be transparent about the time frame way ahead of time and be understanding if outside prior commitments hinder employees from taking additional hours. 

Offer Comprehensive Benefits

Not only will a good benefits package increase employee happiness, but it’ll also get you the best employees to start with. Offering a competitive wage and benchmarking it with competitors can ensure you stand out from the crowd.

In this competitive job market, you want your startup to shine and only attract workers who have their pick of roles. 

Offering paid perks such as a competitive pension contribution rate and a wide range of insurance coverage is a must, but there are lower-cost benefits as well. These include things like flexible scheduling, extra vacation time, and staff pricing schemes. 

Lead by Example

Perhaps the most important way to improve employee happiness comes straight from you. 

If management is unhappy, this trickles down through the entire staff. Make sure to focus on your own work-life balance and be a model for open and honest communication. 

People tend to dislike people who don’t practise what they preach, so to avoid looking like an untrustworthy hypocrite, make sure to hold yourself to the same standards and conduct you expect your team to follow.

The Bottom Line

Aside from the ones we just explored, there are plenty more strategies to make your work environment a happier and more productive place. 

Implementing these will help your employees have a better work-life and lead to better financial outcomes for your startup as well.

It’s understandable if the range of options is quite overwhelming. If you’re not sure where to start, sit together with your team and just ask them what they’d like! 

This might just be the start of a strong, positive relationship among all of your staff members.

The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.

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