by Abby Perkins
It’s the nature of startups to be small. Most startups are comprised of a small number of extremely talented employees, who have to take on multiple jobs and work long hours.
To succeed in a competitive market, a startup needs every member of its small team to be working at maximum capacity. But even the most motivated employee can suffer from burnout if they’re pushed too hard for too long. Startup leaders should be on the lookout for signs of employee stress and burnout, and they should take precautions to prevent it from happening.
Want to maximize productivity while preventing burnout at the same time? Create an environment that values productivity, but also prioritizes employee health, happiness, and comfort. Follow these tips to keep your startup workforce pushing full steam ahead.
1. Be Flexible About Flexibility
Sometimes, all it takes to alleviate the stress of a heavy workload is a little flexibility. Flexible work schedules put a level of control back into the hands of the employee, and can even lead to an increase in workplace productivity.
Some people work better first thing in the morning, while others work better late at night. Some employees may prefer to work a few days from home every week. Other flexible work arrangements include telecommuting, or working longer days Monday through Thursday in order to have Fridays off. When employees can work when and where they work best, they get a lot more done. Startup leaders should discuss what options will fit their team. They may even want to test out a few flexible work styles to see what works best.
2. Pump Up The Perks
Another huge motivator? Providing perks that boost employees’ morale and make their lives easier, too. The key? Discovering what perks your employees value most, and what perks can fit into your startup’s budget.
You don’t have to go the Silicon Valley route with extreme perks like massages or on-site yoga. It could be as easy as providing free lunch once or twice a month, or keeping snacks and coffee around the office. Depending on the demographics of your workforce, employees may want perks like subsidized child care or gym memberships. The trick? Find out what your employees really want, so you can ensure you’re using your money and resources in the best way possible. Send out a quick survey before implementing new perks to see what your employees will truly value.
3. Equip Employees For Success
The best way to increase the productivity of a small team is to give them the tools and resources that they need to succeed. Startups can often see a dramatic improvement in productivity by investing in the right software or tools.
For example, customer management software can track customer purchases, email newsletters to existing clients and serve as a lead generator, freeing up employees who would normally have to do all that by hand. Employees are also likely to be more productive when they have the latest technology and devices – no startup can get by with old, out-of-date programs or computers. But tools don’t need to be tangible, either. Startups should also consider investing in resources like subscriptions to industry publications, training seminars, or workshops.
4. Emphasize Teamwork
Small office environments are much more reliant on a team-based approach than their larger counterparts. If someone is swamped, falling behind, or sick, other employees should pitch in and pick up the slack. Reward those high-performers often, whether with money or praise, to show them that you appreciate their hard work. And when employees are struggling or falling behind, offer to mentor them to help them get back up to speed.
Startups may also want to consider a flat organizational structure, which allows employees at every level to work and collaborate together. Employees will be more invested in your company’s success if they feel like their contributions matter. To get this buy-in, show employees that their opinions count by allowing them to help develop organizational goals, as well as take on leadership roles within their teams or the company as a whole.
5. Encourage Relaxation
If your startup’s workload frequently requires long days, it’s important to provide time for employees to blow off a little steam. Foster an environment where relaxation is encouraged, not frowned upon.
If it’s possible, create green space and outdoor areas where employees can go to relax and get away from their desks. Alternately (or additionally), provide quiet rooms where employees can take a nap, read or meditate without being interrupted. You can also allow for relatively affordable activities like ping pong, darts or office putting greens to help employees relax during the workday.
Getting things done is hard enough in a large company with a lot of employees. It’s even harder when you’re a startup with minimal human capital. However, even the smallest teams can have a big impact – and see big results – when they use their resources smartly.
What tricks do you use to maximize productivity while preventing employee burnout? Let us know in the comments.