How to Lose your Best Startup Employees in a Single Move

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A realization. An opinion.

Ever had a work hiccup? It is when you temporarily fall out of passion with your current works. The causes are many, from insignificant amount of raise, to the growth of another priorities in your life. I assume, nothing is wrong with these changes, nobody expects us to stay the same after all. Things do change.

Working in startups, there are things happen in which we can’t do nothing but adapt. “Adapt or die” should be easy, but not when you have a clash of interest in your heart (culprits: those travel quotes can be pretty convincing), you could start questioning your choices. From my own experiences (although not yet extensive), the one thing that most employees in startup ecosystem often neglected from is the fair treatment of their contribution, dedication and skills.

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Employees in different startups have one thing in common: they all are passionate, dedicated human beings. I confidently say this because it’s true, otherwise these people would be in a more steady work and company, ensuring their future and salary. They have the choice, but they dive in and gamble on themselves, trusting the new, stuck up confidence most startups are based on. The last thing these people needed is under-appreciation.

Most of them come to learn, which is the best quality a boss could ask for, at least in my opinion. Yes, experiences are important, but if someone who’s experienced decide for themselves that they’ve had enough learning, you’ve really hit a dead end there. With the learning minds, you got someone who will ensure themselves to thrive in anything they’re thrown in because of that very spirit. They will try to keep up, and they will dip themselves fully. They will grow a feeling of attachment to your values and cultures, because they come with positive attitudes and belief. They will want to stay and watch your company grow, like it is their dreams. And you will call them one of your bests.

But calling them your bests isn’t going to cut it.

If a startup boss thinks their employees can feed of motivation, eventually these people will fall out of love. Trust me, without that love and excitements (despite age), nobody will want to survive a life with a startup. It’s too much dynamics and not much of a stability, and people will not live an entire lifetime with daily changes. How can you prevent them from leaving your company? By stop negotiating on things in their work lives (and personal lives, too) to be sacrificed. You may say, “I never ask them to stay put, they can leave if they can’t handle it anymore.” Sometimes it breaks their hearts too for leaving (because they’re attached), but that’s something they won’t tell you. They will simply tell you that they can’t stay because they want to seek out other opportunities out there, but most of the time, it will be because you didn’t do enough to appreciate them. Ask their co-workers, and maybe you’ll hear it.

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And by appreciation, I didn’t mean credits. These people that I’ve been describing give zero fucks about praises (although it won’t hurt to let them know how much you like their job every once in a while). It is how much you appreciate them in a written form, in an upgraded contract, with upgraded salary in significant amount. That’s a proof. That’s doing the talk. Walking the walk. How can you expect a fully dedicated person (so you say) to not feel insulted when you only gave the person a 10% raise after years of sweats and tears building a company they won’t be able to call theirs? Worst yet, how come you think that these people can keep understanding excuses like, “We’re a startup company, so we are looking on expanding and today won’t be the day you get the raise you deserve (well, you know in your heart that these people do deserve it)”?

So, no. This just won’t work anymore. Don’t cheat your way out of not paying enough attention because you’re on a mission to rule the world. While you’re busting glasses and thinking you’re opening ways for your business, in the inside, your support system are probably crumbling down. Come on, it’s better to expand a business knowing you’ve got the best people sticking around. You should know how to value them. You should know better.