How Startups Ruin Employee Engagement

How Startups Ruin Employee Engagement

A recent Gallup poll uncovered hard data that proves – once and for all – employee engagement is essential for business growth. After observing nearly 1.4 million employees comprising about 50,000 work units, researchers were able to confirm a connection between engagement and nine major performance outcomes, including:

  • Profitability
  • Productivity
  • Customer ratings
  • Absenteeism
  • Turnover
  • Shrinkage/theft

Businesses that boasted the highest employee engagement were able to boost their outcomes, increasing profitability by about 22 percent, productivity by 21 percent, customer ratings by 10 percent, and other noteworthy upturns.

This study verifies the importance of engaging employees – but in its conclusion, the poll’s researchers are hesitant to provide any definitive course of action for startups and established businesses. While there is plenty of advice online to guide business leaders through engagement processes, much of this information is contradictory at best – and wrong at worst.

In fact, operating on incorrect employee engagement strategies can do extreme harm to a business, driving the best talent away and discouraging those workers that remain. Plenty of startups sabotage their own engagement efforts in the following ways:

Failing to Communicate Transparently

Anyone who has been in a relationship that lacks underlying trust should understand the importance of openness and honesty. For anyone to feel engaged in a relationship – be it workplace, romance, or otherwise — that person must be fully knowledgeable of everything going on. If employees are left uninformed of important business decisions, they will feel belittled and devalued. They will pay more attention to miscommunications and failures, and they will lose confidence in their superiors.

Many business leaders experience terror at the thought of transparency, but in truth, transparency provides more benefits than dangers. By involving employees in important business decisions – especially in establishing business values and developing a mission statement – leaders can build transparency into their business model and ensure employee engagement.

Breaking Promises to the Workforce

Another lesson business leaders can glean from personal relationships is the devastation that broken promises inflict. There is no faster way to incite ire in an employee than to make a promise and never follow through. Business leaders are often tempted to make promises in the interest of keeping the workforce happy and engaged, but if there is little chance of delivering on those promises, it is better to be honest. Employees remember broken promises forever, and they will forever be an obstacle to true employee engagement.

Treating Employees Unequally

Different employees have different tasks and goals, different authority and responsibilities. However, that doesn’t mean employees should be treated differently. Especially when it comes to engagement efforts, no single tier of employees should earn the bulk of the benefits, and absolutely no employees should be left out. Often, higher-level managers and directors are forgotten while lower-level workers swim in awards and praise; organizations must provide executive gifts as often as they offer prizes to lower-level employees.

startups ruin employee engagement

Recognizing Work the Wrong Way

Not all recognition is equal. In fact, for more than a century, businesses have been focusing too heavily on rewarding workers with money. In fact, employees might not say so, but most perform better when they are motivated in other ways.

Business leaders must be aware of how different workers prefer to be recognized for their good work. For example, single parents might prefer extra PTO over cash bonuses, so they can spend more time with their kids; meanwhile, some workers might enjoy outside-work activities, like tickets to a sports or cultural event. Recognition with cash will only build a workforce that demands more money, so businesses must be careful to acknowledge work in more effective ways.

Providing Little or No Leadership

There’s a reason why strong businesses have plenty of middle managers: Workers need leaders to guide their productivity. Workplace teams that lack leadership are more likely to disengage from their work and find more diverting activities to enjoy on company time.

Trained leaders bring accountability to teams of workers, and leaders can more directly target engagement efforts. Small businesses that lack the funding to support a stable middle management can create leaders from their working staff. Leadership training doesn’t cost much, but it provides endless benefits to workers and workplaces alike.

Managing Time Improperly

Burnout is a diagnosable mental condition that develops when someone has little time to rest and relax. Employees experiencing burnout are often physically exhausted, forgetful, irritable, frequently sick, and – most notably for this post – disengaged from their work. Businesses that demand extra time from employees, especially during evenings and on weekends, should expect to see an increased rate of burnout cases. Therefore, business leaders should be able to prioritize tasks and avoid requesting work when employees deserve a break.

5 Career-Ruining Mistakes Made by Aspiring Entrepreneurs

5 Career-Ruining Mistakes Made by Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship is an enticing gig: You get autonomy, power, prestige, excitement, and, if you are lucky, excessive wealth. However, being an entrepreneur isn’t just planting the seeds of business and watching them sprout into a money tree. The world is filled with wannabe entrepreneurs just like you, which means you must do everything right to find success.

Unfortunately, you probably won’t do everything right. Still, you will probably survive a few blunders – unless they are any of the following devastating mistakes that will end your entrepreneurial career before it truly begins.

1. Wasting Time

Any entrepreneur will tell you that you need real-world experience before you can successfully run a business. However, that shouldn’t give you a reason to procrastinate on your dreams. While you might take a couple years between undergrad and graduate school to gain familiarity with your industry of choice, you should be careful to avoid putting off your entrepreneurial plans for too long.

The business world moves fast, and sooner or later someone else with the same idea and more speed will beat you to success. Before time runs out, you should acquire an online MBA, no GMAT required, so you can gain the skills you need for your business as soon as possible.

2. Assuming All Responsibilities

You desperately want everything in your business to be perfect, and that means you must know how to delegate. Too many entrepreneurs are unwilling to relinquish any control; some will refuse to hire new employees to take over, while others will try to meddle in projects they’ve already given to their teams. The conclusion is always the same: Work doesn’t get done – or it gets done sloppily – and the business crashes.

Even if you want to, you simply can’t handle all the responsibilities of a new business on your own. You aren’t experienced enough in many complex processes, like financial management or marketing, to maintain complete control in perpetuity. You must give your less important tasks to employees who are more proficient at them. Then, you can devote your attentions to more influential undertakings, like growth and change.

3. Forgetting About Passion

Human resources, corporate wellness, economic consulting – according to Forbes, these industries are ripe for startups, but if they don’t ignite in you an entrepreneurial passion, you should probably stay away. If the product or concept behind your business is less than exhilarating, you will never be able to commit enough of yourself to it to find success. Entrepreneurship is unbelievably hard, but it is fulfilling and worthwhile when you care about the outcome. Therefore, instead of chasing the money, you should chase the high of doing something interesting.

career ruining mistakes

4. Being Inflexible

Like any good entrepreneur, you developed a business plan before embarking on your entrepreneurial dreams. While a business plan is an indispensable tool for beginning your business journey – necessary for challenges like acquiring funding and hiring talent ― that plan should never be written in stone. You will incur obstacles that you didn’t expect, such as technological innovation, changes to consumer taste, and unforeseen competition in the market. The road to success is never bump-free.

You must be willing and able to adapt your plan and vision. In fact, you should try to anticipate market changes that will impact your business. Continuing to test your products, pursue new options, and chase new audiences will help you stay ahead of the curve.

5. Expecting Success

It is okay to imagine being a titan of industry, but if your fantasies ever solidify into expectations, you are in trouble. A generous proportion of startups fail; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about half make it five years, and a third survive to 10. It is good to be confident in your skills, knowledge, and plans, but you should consistently remind yourself that you are one bad decision away from being on the losing side of those stats.

Being realistic will help you budget effectively, expand carefully, and respond appropriately to opportunities and obstacles alike. Realism will keep you upbeat when you are in the red for your first two years, and it will keep you grounded when cash starts rolling in.

All entrepreneurs fail. However, some of those entrepreneurs learn from their failures and go on to become famous successes. The mistakes listed above are sure to discourage any budding entrepreneur beyond hope. Thus, as you begin you career in entrepreneurship, you must learn from others’ failures first.

5 Big Business Concepts That Startups Need to Steal

5 big business concepts that startups need to steal

Most people understand that running a small business is a completely different experience than running a major corporation. However, despite smaller budgets, smaller teams, and a different playing field, many of the business principles that form the operational foundation for large companies apply to small businesses as well. In fact, there are several concepts that will benefit even the smallest businesses.

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3 Tips for Taking Your Small Publishing Business to the Next Level

small publishing business

As a business owner, you know that starting a small business isn’t easy- especially in the highly competitive media industry.

However, it’s very rewarding to see all your hard work and effort start to come to fruition. If you’re ready to take your small publishing business to the next level, try implementing the following three tips:

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3 Lessons Learned from the Startup World

lessons startup world

If you have been following my blog for a while you know that during 2008 and 2009 I worked for a startup here in Honolulu, Hawaii. My time at this startup was amazing. Not only was I able to turn my MBA internship into a full-time position, but also I learned a lot about the startup world.

Here are my 3 top lessons from those years.

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4 Benefits of Investing in Startups

investing in startups

There has been a lot of talk in recent years about investing in startups. A number of high-profile startup company success stories may have made it seem that putting money into a startup is a surefire way to get a return on your investments.

However, for every successful startup, the are a number that fail, taking down investors as well as the company itself. This does not mean that startups are a poor investment; however, it does indicate that they generally work best as part of a diversified portfolio.

These are four of the advantages of including startups in you investment portfolio.

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5 Surefire Success Tips for the Modern Entrepreneur

tips modern entrepreneur

Whether you’re exploring new territory or reinventing the wheel with an SMB, entrepreneurship has definitely changed in recent years.

In many ways, entrepreneurs have never had it better. While starting a business is never easy, it can be made far less painful nowadays if you understand the current lay of the land. Certain contemporary entrepreneurial habits have proven themselves to be more effective than others.

Use the following tips to guide your efforts when launching a venture.

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Bill Gates’s Favorite Ed-Tech Startups


The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (B&MGF or the Gates Foundation) aims, globally, to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty, and in America, to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology. Given that it is the largest transparently operated private foundation in the world, the views of their founders in education have tremendous repercussion within that field. Therefore, it is interesting to learn what Bill Gates’ favorite ed-tech startups are. Here is the list.

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Ergonomic Consultancy: A Business Opportunity

wrong sitting

Does this picture seem familiar? It may even reflect how you are sitting right now. Now you may even be rearranging your sitting position as you are reading this. As a blogger and marketing consultant I spend a lot of time sitting down in front of a computer typing away and taking calls. I am guilty of improper posture myself. Since one of my coworkers, who is around of my same age, got diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome and had to go through a very invasive surgery, I have taken several steps towards improving the ergonomics from my workspace at both the office and home.

In the process of doing so, I have realized that if you are looking for to start a business with  a high potential for success, and one that can change lives for the better, entrepreneurs should consider the world of ergonomic consulting.

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