Huffpost Business

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Heather Huhman Headshot

10 Lessons Big Employers Can Learn From Startups

Posted: Updated:

Employers at large companies like Yahoo! or Apple are always faced with the challenge of maintaining their company culture and creating happy employees. But many people who work for companies with thousands of employees crave the culture of smaller companies and startups. Whether it's a flexible schedule or more learning opportunities, people want to work in an environment that helps them stay motivated to go to work each day.

Startups are leading the way in creating great work environments. By following a few lessons from startups, large employers will be able to meet the needs of their employees and provide a rewarding work experience:

1. Promote a creative environment. Your employees want to work in an environment where they have the opportunity to be innovative and implement their personal ideas. Over at Quirky, their office is designed for creativity. The glass walls, bright lights, and wood floors promotes an environment meant for great ideas. By promoting a creative environment, employees will feel empowered to go above and beyond in their work.

2. Provide flexibility in work schedules. People crave work-life balance. The majority of startups give their employees the option to work from home or accommodate their schedule to their family's needs. While you don't have to change the way your office hours operate, make sure you consider the scheduling needs of your employees. If you take a look at Treehouse, you'll notice this startup operates on a four-day work week. This perk has allowed many of Treehouse's employees to balance their jobs with their families.

3. Create transparency in communication. Employees want to hear good and bad news about the company from top management. They also want their voices to be heard. Lore believes every employee deserves the freedom to share their ideas without feeling intimidated by management. You can improve communication within your company by creating transparency and ensuring your employees feel comfortable speaking with top management.

4. Recognize your employees' accomplishments. People want their successes and achievements to be recognized by top management. Simply tell your employees how much you appreciate their hard work and dedication to the company. Danny Wong, co-founder of Blank Label, says employees feel like they're an integral part of the company when their accomplishments are recognized by management. By doing this, employees will feel like they are an asset, not just an average worker.

5. Allow room for growth. Many people have career goals and want the opportunity to advance their career. If you want to retain your valuable employees, give them opportunities for promotions without making them wait a specific timeframe to move up in the company. Justin Beegle, founder of Infographic World, believes his employees deserve the opportunity grow with the company. By providing promotions, employees will be inspired to go above and beyond at work and will want to advance their career with your organization.

6. Challenge your employees. Don't allow your employees to become bored in the office. Offer them new responsibilities and encourage them to take on new projects. Over at Handybook, managers encourage their developers to take ownership of projects, which makes them feel trusted. This will also motivate them to want to take ownership of projects and provide more positive results at work.

7. Promote continuous learning. Something startups do well is they provide numerous learning opportunities for their employees. You can also do this by giving your employees the opportunity to enhance their skills through classes or allowing them to expand their experience by working in different department of your company. A startup that is going above and beyond to develop the skills of their employees is Voxy. Employees are encouraged to learn new languages and are given the opportunity to develop their skills -- all while at work.

8. Create an awesome culture. While you probably can't allow your employees to wear jeans to work every day, provide fun and exciting opportunities at work to make your employees want to be in the office. For example at HubSpot, employees are assigned to a new desk each quarter by playing "musical desks." Try to think of something fun that will keep your employees motivated and enjoy their time at work!

9. Remember to work hard and play hard. If you want your employees to go above and beyond, reward them for their extra effort by providing them with a special lunch or allowing them to have a half day at the office. Scopely, a mobile entertainment startup, encourages their employees to play hard by providing opportunities for employees to go on trips together for bonding and fun! By creating fun opportunities for your employees, it will give them an incentive to continue their hard work.

10. Ask for input. Startups value input from their employees. Whether you're making a change to the company or you are looking for advice on how to improve sales, ask your employees for ideas and to provide feedback during your decision making process. Over at Prolific Interactive, management encourages their employees to provide input and for everyone to collaborate on their ideas.

Big employers can learn a lot from the culture of startups. It's important for you to pay attention to the needs of your employees and their desire to achieve balance in their lives. By making any of these small changes to your company, your employees will feel excited about going to work and have the desire to contribute more to the company.

What else do you think large companies can learn from startups to improve their work environment?