How To Create An Unbeatable Start-up Culture



October 27, 2022

There are so many benefits of a great work culture. And although every organisation has its own unique history, flavour, and mission, we’ve attempted to compile a “one size fits all” guide for start-ups looking to attract talent away from their bigger competitors.

At any business, strong teams are the driving force of success.

When you're starting out, sourcing talented workers and aligning them all with your business goals is crucial. But holding onto that talent is possibly even more so. 

After all, there is little point in hiring a team of perfect employees only to just lose them further down the road.

In a recent study of job hunters, 40% said that a “positive working culture” mattered to them… so foster one. And tell the world about it!

When you develop a great working culture and environment, whether it’s remote, hybrid, or in the office, employees genuinely want to be part of it - and will think twice before going elsewhere. 

Creating a great place to work enables start-ups and scale-ups to compete with more established organisations that have greater capital to offer better salaries. 

A good culture increases morale, productivity and, most crucially, builds trust. All of which leads to longer, more fruitful tenures.


How To Become Unbeatable

Start-ups today come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Companies founded during the Covid pandemic can be remote working, hybrid, or working from an office. 

For remote start-ups and scale-ups, organising time for people to get together is a great way to break free of work-related video calls and kick-start meaningful interactions.

While virtual meetings are useful, in-person get-togethers build relationships in a way that video calls cannot.  

While there might be additional costs involved with getting people together, the bonds forged are priceless - and far less expensive than having a permanent office space - or losing your best employees.


ReassessYour Perks

It’s great to offer work perks, but it’s time to reassess which benefits are providing the most meaning for employees.

We asked our database what they think the most desirable bonuses are when looking for a job or deciding whether to stay with a company. 

The result highlighted that the typical “modern-age” perks, such as games rooms and pool tables, beer on tap, and sleeping pods weren’t highly valued at all.

Our results found:

  • 75% of employees wanted the option to work remote/hybrid
  • 40% wanted to  be placed into an employee share schemes
  • 30% said free  lunches reigned supreme 

Share schemes are the perfect way to get people literally invested in the success of the business. 

While share schemes have been around for a long time, their benefits are really only just being noticed. In fact, the number of companies with an employee share scheme has increased by 80% since 2012.

Because most start-ups don’t have a big cash pool to dole out rewards, hefty bonuses and pay rises, it's important they capitalise on what they can offer and give their employees skin in the game. 

This helps to establish a deeper sense of commitment from the business and can often be a very tax-efficient way to reward the whole body of a business, building a sense of unity and shared purpose. 

Providing a gift which could amount to a life-changing sum, provided the company is successful. 

For example, Figma’s recent acquisition by Adobe for £20bn meant that employees with a 0.1%share banked more than £20,000,000. Figma was only founded in 2016, providing a best-case example of the potential returns from big success.

Lessons From Candidly

At Candidly, we believe that employee retention starts at the hiring stage. In a competitive market, the best talent will interview with multiple companies simultaneously. For us, showcasing a great culture is the secret to levelling the playing field.

We prioritise transparency and honesty during the interview stages – giving both parties the best possible opportunity to assess whether we’re a good match.

Our directors also personally meet all final-stage candidates to decide whether they are a good fit culturally for the team - and to ensure they’re aligned with our values and mission.

Establishing this trust early leads to better relationships between colleagues at all levels.


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