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Striking a Work Life Balance: 6 Startup Survival Strategies

When you’re a startup, everything matters – every dime you spend, and every hour you work. But, at the same time, your employees may not have the same level of enthusiasm that you do. You are, after all, the leader of the organization. They follow you. Here’s how to achieve a work life balance that won’t stress out your employees and will make you a hero at the office.

Be Flexible With Lifestyles

Not all employees view work the same way. And, depending on the employee’s age, they will have different ideas about what constitutes a “work-life balance.” An engineer in her twenties will have different work habits than someone who leaves early to pick up her children from school or some after-school event.

Some people are more productive first thing in the morning, while others get a rush of energy mid-day and are lagging in the morning. Rather than enforce specific rules about productivity and work, be flexible with employee schedules, within reason.

Examine Your Position As CEO

It all starts with you. You have to realize that you set an example for your organization. But, if you stay until midnight to finish a project, other employees might feel pressured to do the same. Make your voice heard – make it clear that employees don’t need to stay after hours with you if you don’t need them to.

Of course, if you do need overtime, you should make this clear too. Just keep in mind that you can’t expect your employees to be as flexible as you. This is your company, not theirs.

Do Nice Things For Employees

Employees love it when you surprise them with free lunches or a random day off in the middle of the week. Do you have to do this all the time? No, of course not. But, you should consider giving employees random “gifts” like this periodically. It will make them appreciate you much more and you’ll have a lot more influence over them when and if you ever do need to ask them to do something challenging or outside of their comfort zone.

Make Work Fun

No one like going to a job where they’re not appreciated or when they work in a hostile environment. For example, if an employee suffers constant badgering or harassment, that employee will not want to work for you for very long. This should be fairly obvious. So, set zero-tolerance for discrimination and harassment at your workplace.

Don’t just give it lip service either, like a lot of companies do. Train management to recognize it and eliminate the threat immediately. Cultivate a positive culture in your company.

Give Your Employees Morale

According to Allen J. Baler, giving back to the community, or helping people that work for you start their own company, is not only very rewarding, it can build company morale. Baler’s company helps startups get off the ground, but he readily admits that any company can do this.

The semi-famous vetrepreneur program in Durham North Carolina helps veterans by allowing then to intern at a local military-themed apparel company in the state, and then the company invests money to help those veterans launch their own startup business.

Not all of your employees are “lifers.” Some of them may want to branch out. Help them. It will build morale within the company, and show all employees that you’re there to help them, regardless of whether their passions lie with your company or their own vision.

Ditch The “Standard Hours” Approach

Ditching the standard hours (i.e. 9-5) has been a long time coming. Most employees these days can telecommute, if necessary, and it usually doesn’t matter when work gets done as long as it’s done by a specific deadline. So, let employees work at their own pace.

Reward Employees

Everyone needs to be rewarded, but you don’t have to get crazy with the bonuses. Sometimes, all that’s really needed is recognition. According to some research, recognition, not money per se, is linked to improved job performance, satisfaction, and ultimately increases the long-term value of the business.

The problem is that many companies look for a solid ROI on recognition, and there isn’t one. What you can measure are qualitative factors, like how people feel about their job. The improvement in productivity is something that’s difficult to measure, because you don’t want to sacrifice it to find out whether no recognition results in missed deadlines.

Recognition can come in many forms from public recognition, private recognition, a simple handshake or an award. The important thing is to recognize the employee explicitly and let them know their work is appreciated and valued.

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