5 Valuable Lessons I Learned Working with the CEO of a Tech Startup
How motivation plays a major role in the workplace of every organisation.
Are people constantly motivated at work by default? Does it differ depending on the area or business sector each corporation is pigeonholed in? Or is it an emotional factor that each worker can interpret in a different way — hence the different levels of motivation throughout an individual’s career? Clearly, these are some tricky questions, with even trickier answers, right?
According to a survey of more than 2,000 U.K. employees by Happiness Works, on behalf of the human resource firm Robert Half U.K., the moment where employees begin to feel discontent at work, surprisingly starts at the early age of 35 years old.
Almost one fifth (17%) of people over the age of 55 are unhappy at work. Those in Generation X don’t fare much better with 16% of 35–54 year old admitting they are also unhappy in their roles. This is double the number of Millennials that said the same. In stark contrast to the older generations, less than one in ten (8%) of those aged 18–34 claimed to be unhappy in their jobs.
So, based on this survey, what influences employee happiness in the workplace? One-third (34%) of those aged over 35 found their job stressful. A figure that it is pretty much lower for employees aged between 18 and 35 years old (25%).
It’s the same situation when talking about work-life balance complaints — the figure is significantly higher the older the employee is. According to Happiness Works, 12% of those aged 35–54 and 17% of those aged over 55 struggle to juggle work with other aspects of their life. In comparison, just one in 10 Millennials feel the same.
A third factor could be the feeling of being either appreciated or undervalued at the workplace. And once again, there is another factor in common: the individual’s age — 59% of those aged between 18 to 35 feel appreciated and just 15% feel undervalued. In comparison, a quarter (25%) of 35–54-year old feel underappreciated, with this figure rising to 28% for those aged over 55.
“Employees that are aged over 35 have valuable experience that the whole organisation can learn and benefit from. It’s important that their happiness is not neglected, so businesses need to take the time to invest in their staff at all levels.”— Phil Sheridan, Senior Managing Director at Robert Half UK.
INTERVIEWING KARL REDENBACH, CEO OF LIVETILES
Continuing with my research of finding the origins and factors that influence levels of an employee’s motivation throughout their career, I decided to sneak into the very heart of Manhattan to have a quick chat — and some laughs — with the CEO of LiveTiles, a startup with a colourful and hipster-inspired office next to one of New York City’s urban green spaces, Madison Square Park.
Redenbach co-founded LiveTiles, a digital workplace software startup, in 2014 in part as a response to that frustration, complexity, and multiplicity of workplace technologies. As well as his time as a lawyer, Redenbach’s career includes nearly 14 years with global technology consultancy nSynergy where he was CEO and co-founder. “Having worked in the corporate space, you start to understand the pain points,” he also said in an interview for CSM Wire.
1. Where do you think the real motivation comes from?
For me, real motivation comes from the energy of the people you work with and feeling like you’re part of something important. If you don’t feel passionate about what you’re doing, there won’t be any drive to get things done. Everyone at LiveTiles is incredibly passionate and, as a result, incredibly hard working. We’re growing at an unprecedented rate, we’re disrupting traditional ways of doing things, and knowing this excites the team and motivates everyone to make a difference.
2. How do you get people to feel motivated at the workplace?
It’s a combination of transparency and teamwork. Whenever something amazing happens at LiveTiles, it is immediately posted on Yammer for everyone on the team to see. These daily successes, and the knowledge that they’re occurring provide the team with an extra boost of energy to keep striving. At the same time, this is a collaborative effort, and there’s genuine respect for everyone on the team. Each person at LiveTiles, regardless of job title, makes an impact, and when we have monthly global company updates, I always remind them of this so they know that their work matters.
3. According to a survey of more than 2,000 U.K. employees, the moment where employees begin to feel discontent at work starts just at the early age of 35 years old. How would you tackle that?
For a start, we can leave some outdated business traditions behind. Let’s get rid of the boring cubicles, let’s get rid of the rigid 9–5 schedule. The key to our success at LiveTiles is an amazing office culture. We have a “work hard, play hard” mentality. There are ping pong tables in our offices and open spaces for people to sit wherever they want. Some people work remotely, others come into the office every day. There are no “rules,” so long as you get your work done and maintain communication with your team members. This flexibility, I believe, makes people feel better about working for us.
4. I’ve personally seen that people working at LiveTiles have a feeling that they are a capital part of the company and they grow together. How did you make them feel this way?
This isn’t by accident. Part of this is the office culture we have created, but part of it is bringing everyone together for fun ideation sessions and off-site events. LiveTiles is made up of a global diverse team, and while we all communicate with each other regularly, most of it is done remotely. It’s important to me that we all know and respect each other as people, not merely as co-workers who help us get our jobs done. So recently we flew everyone on the team to New York City for a two-day ideation session. This was a way for all of us to come together to share ideas about the company, and more importantly, to get to know each other and create memorable bonding experiences.
5. Could this environment be applied out of the startup world? If so, how?
It’s already being done. Look at the Huffington Post, known for its promotion of a healthy work-life balance. There are nap rooms for employees to recharge, which is amazing. There’s also the offices of LinkedIn, which come with special rooms for employees to play instruments and have jam sessions. That’s unreal, isn’t it? Ten years ago, we would think this is crazy, but today it’s becoming mainstream. I believe in the next ten years, more corporations and big businesses will be coming up with creative ways to engage employees.
SO, HOW IMPORTANT IS MOTIVATION AT THE WORKPLACE AND HOW COULD IT BE SUCCESSFULLY APPLIED IN AN ORGANISATION?
“There comes a time when either you haven’t achieved success, work has burned you out, or lived experience tells you family is more important. You ask yourself: what am I doing this for?” — Cary Cary Cooper, Workplace Researcher at Manchester Business School.
We have demonstrated that when an employee feels motivated, they display more quality-oriented skills, work with higher productivity and always look for a better way to complete a task, producing, therefore, a higher-quality work more efficiently.
There are some key points that we can highlight from this research that are capital to understand the importance of promoting motivation at every organisation, which every leader should keep in mind:
1. Motivation leads to efficiency
There is a clear link between employee motivation and the level of efficiency shown in the workplace. Employers will use multiple tactics to motivate employees, including incentives and training workshops, with the aim of offering them a purpose. When employees feel supported, productivity within an organisation is more likely to increase along with a reduction in operations costs and an improvement of the overall efficiency.
2. A collaborative environment is key
Motivation also comes from the relationship with colleagues at work, and a collaborative environment solidly helps to increase both levels of productivity and contentment at the workplace. Working in synergy, people are able to achieve things collectively that they would not be able to achieve individually and also can absorb invaluable insights.
3. Don’t forget well-being
As Arianna Huffington said in her introductory post for Thrive Global, “the science is clear and conclusive: when we prioritize our well-being, our decision-making, our creativity, our productivity and our performance dramatically improve across the board.”
4. Lead with passion
“Motivating employees to be successful in their assignments is not only good business, it’s also the right thing to do.” — Jim Blasingame
5. And also, don’t forget to have fun!
Why not have your complex marketing plan meeting over a ping pong game with two colleagues? Need a breath? Why not work from the park next to your office for an hour? The best thing employees can do is taking their job seriously but not take themselves too seriously. Having fun at work is definitely a clear motivational factor.
And remember: if life shuts a door, open it again. That’s how they work!
Please, feel free to share your thoughts about motivation in the comments area below, highlight your favourite parts of this post and join the Thrive Global community on Social Media using the hashtag #WorkplaceMotivation. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say!
For more information about LiveTiles, visit their website clicking here.