startup culture

Startup culture: discover 5 risk factors

Startup culture tends to be one of the most overlooked aspects when companies focus on positioning themselves, growing, overcoming competitive obstacles, and surviving in the labor ecosystem. However, it is crucial to keep in mind that not paying attention to it can negatively affect employees’ psychological well-being

What is startup culture? 

It is often scarce: although it is already emerging, it has not yet had time to tangibly shape. In reality, startup culture is generated through theory and the accumulated practice of that culture, that is, through the company’s development over time. In the beginning, it is probably more implicit than explicit, more unconscious than conscious, more practical than theoretical, and more unknown than known.

This allows the startup culture to become more concrete, transforming and, above all, improving, becoming aligned with its mission statement and corporate purpose at each moment of its life cycle, and becoming better known, appreciated, and practiced by employees. 

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Let’s remember that a startup is a small company in terms of staff size, recently created, with little history, with an uncertain future, and with little biography. Therefore, startup culture will tend to be somewhat vaguer than it will be in the future if the company prospers. 

startup culture

Startup culture: how do we create it? 

Thinking, communicating, and practicing. Corporate culture is not just an idea but an idea put into practice. It is not a slogan but a reference of behavior and identity as members of the company that must also guide the work methodology: the product manufactured or the service offered must reflect the corporate culture, that is, be consistent with it.

Well-being risk factors for startup culture 

  1. Unregulated growth

Whether in production, resources, or, of course, personnel. The pace at which the team grows within a startup tends to be inconsistent and uncertain. This affects the structure: every person who joins a team enriches it, changes its dynamics, and establishes a mutual influence with the company culture in the startup: the culture influences them, but they also build it with their attitude and behavior. 

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2. High level of uncertainty and tension

No company’s future is guaranteed, but what characterizes startups is the high level of uncertainty about their survival, their achievements, the investments they will receive, or the challenges they will be able to meet not in the long term but the relatively short term. 

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This directly impacts the team’s emotional climate, conveying a high level of tension that can become incongruent with the corporate culture and harm the employees’ psychological well-being. 

3. Leadership problems

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Like all other aspects of a young and fast-growing company, the leadership of these companies is also undergoing its own birth and development process. It must do so in harmony with the startup culture. However, sometimes there are some hiccups until the teams are well established, and there are transparent processes, objectives, and how you want to shape the organization. 

4. Inconsistent corporate culture

As mentioned above, it is usually based more on what we want to be than on what we still are as a company. Startup culture always has a certain degree of stability but also a certain degree of dynamism. It never ceases to be something open, which can change by integrating new nuances and letting go of those that no longer fit its mission statement or corporate purpose. The problem for startups is that however clear things are, they are still building their corporate culture through theory (thinking it through, communicating it) and also in practice.

5. Not having a proper HR department

Some of the most urgent tasks in any HR area will be done from the first day of a company’s existence, regardless of whether or not there is an actual department in charge of doing so. However, it is not the same to have HR take care of human resources as to improvise and not implement a deep strategy. This results in devoting energies to the most bureaucratic and unpostponable part of this area but leaving everything related to the management of the employee’s psychological well-being later. 

Tips to take care of workplace well-being in a startup

  1. Don’t assume 

One of the typical mistakes HR managers can make, especially in startups, is drawing meaningful conclusions about the staff’s mood, i.e., about the work environment through assumptions, superficial observations, or projections (attributing our moods to other people). 

Specifically, in startups, where sometimes the team is really small, it may be the case that we have good access to the staff’s work morale because we have a very close relationship, there is a lot of trust and, above all, it is difficult to disguise. However, being in a precarious and vulnerable situation as a company can make people more prone to conceal their moods and opinions or lead managers not to pay attention to them because doing so is not considered a priority. Beware.

2. The full picture

As mentioned above, all companies should be concerned about their future, regardless of their strength. However, in the case of startups, this obligation is urgent and defining. If they do not intensely worry and care about their future, it is very likely that they will not have one and that they will disappear in a matter of weeks. 

This makes the future that startups care about so immediate that it is often confused with the present and generates a highly short-term operation: only urgent survival matters, and everything else can wait. Sometimes, this “everything else” includes people’s psychological well-being, which always has difficulty finding a timely moment to be attended to and managed. 

A panoramic vision, which considers the short term and the medium and long term, is also necessary for startup culture.

3. Professional information and advice

Companies don’t have to know everything, such as being experts on how to care for the psychological well-being of their employees. They have enough work to get ahead successfully, meet their objectives, and be true to their mission statement. 

The important thing is to take responsibility for those corporate areas that we don’t know how to cover ourselves and ask for help from experts who can offer the best assistance. In the case of employees’ psychological well-being and startup culture, those experts are the psychologists specialized in well-being at work, such as those at ifeel

startup culture

Emotional well-being program for companies

At ifeel, we know that work should not disrupt people’s well-being. That is why our team of psychologists, experts in well-being at work, has created an emotional well-being program for companies that positively impacts talent retention, reduces absenteeism, and combats employee stress. 

In our Resources section, you will find helpful material, such as podcasts, HR guides, or interviews with HR managers. In addition, we have a Psychosocial Risk Factors Template, which you can use to comply with the requirements of the Labor Inspection.  

Thanks to our emotional well-being program, your company’s HR managers can receive personalized, data-driven advice on improving the psychological well-being of their teams. In addition, this program offers employees a 360° mental health care service structured at different levels according to their needs. Try our program today to see how it could help you.

We hope you found this post about startup culture interesting. If you would like more information about our emotional well-being program for companies, request it, and we will contact your team as soon as possible.

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