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Attention Startups! Watch Out For These Things

The world of startups is difficult, filled with stress, and most importantly it is exciting. The excitement of working at a startup can oftentimes overpower the negative aspects. Being able to see how your work impacts the company as a whole makes employees feel more involved and important because in fact they are. The startup world just like any other business will have situations that can ruin a culture or even dry up cash flow as a startup. The following are things you need to know how to deal with just in case something happens and you are faced with a tough decision.

Attention Startups! Watch Out For These Things

Sexual Harassment

The young presence in the office is no excuse for any type of sexual harassment. In certain startups the relaxed environment might lend itself to some inappropriate jokes being told or inappropriate advances being made at coworkers. This needs to be eliminated as quickly as possible for a variety of reasons. No employee should be made uncomfortable or fear coming into work because of bullying or sexual harassment. The legal consequences of fostering an environment that feels uncomfortable for employees can be huge as far as the financial implications.

What Can Be Done:

  • Eliminating harassment can actually start at hiring by doing research on a potential hire. One of the HR trends is that of monitoring social media. Those applicants that are berating people online or saying things that are racist or sexist shouldn’t be given another look. Eliminating harassment can start even before a person starts their first day.
  • Documenting everything and not just brushing off a complaint is extremely important. Those companies that don’t confront these issues are ones that can be legally liable later.
  • Refer things to the HR department instead of trying to handle them by yourself. This eliminates the odds of doing something that isn’t in line with compliance. This will also help eliminate issues of the accused being a high performer and the victim having a grudge held against them.
  • Sensitivity trainings and open communication should be kept about harassment. Watch out for signs of harassment and simply ask employees in meetings if there are any issues.

Substance Abuse

Working hard and playing hard seems to be the new mantra for the millennial generation. This multiplies when a younger person is working at a startup as the young and fun environment can lead to happy hours getting a bit out of control. The tough part about detecting substance abuse is that people are constantly trying to hide it. Plenty of spouses do not realize that their significant other has a substance abuse problem until it gets very serious.

There are ways that you can detect substance abuse in many cases. A drop in production is a telling sign and the smelling of alcohol on an employee is a dead giveaway. Once this substance abuse has been detected it is important to reprimand the person appropriately. Even if the person is a high yielding salesperson or artist it is important to punish them the same as you would any other employee. If there are differing punishments or a lack of punishments then the entire staff looks at this as a green light to party all they want.

Firing someone for the same offense that someone wasn’t even punished for is just asking for a wrongful termination suit or a workplace discrimination suit. Substance abuse is a serious issue that can impact business immensely if an employee doesn’t deliver a project by the deadline. More serious issues is that of the employee stealing to feed their habit or even stealing from a client. This can ruin client relationships permanently regardless of how strong the relationship was previously.

Taking On Too Much Work Too Fast

Startups at times are begging for work as they seem to have too many people for their current workload. This does come with issues as startups might slash their prices without thinking about margins simply to drum up some business. A huge mistake that some startups make is taking on way too much work too fast. The thought of signing a big deal is too enticing for many founders and executives which can lead them not to think about the staff that has to complete this order. For this reason it is important to implement scalable processes in the case that an order that can make or break the startup comes in.

Most large companies are willing to scale up with a startup as they understand that everything might not be running at optimum levels. Asking for a small order can be a great relationship builder as honestly goes a long way. Completing the smaller order with high quality work almost guarantees the company will scale up with the startup. Don’t fail on a huge order and lose a client that could generate millions of dollars over the years. Take on what you can do and deliver the highest quality product or service possible.

Hiring Out of Desire Instead of Need

All founders seem to want to expand and even get that huge office that they can grow into in the future. Hiring too quickly can dry up cash flow and bankrupt a company quite quickly. Hiring out of necessity is the way to go as simply hiring people that don’t have full workloads isn’t good management of funds. Utilize those people who have a variety of skills in different departments.

A web developer that can also help with IT is a great example of utilizing employees to the best of their ability. Take the time to sit down and see how much production is needed before hiring. Hiring simply for the sake of hiring is dangerous and can lead to poor corporate morale.

Enjoy the startup world as the rewards and risks are quite high. Do not allow others to discourage you from starting your own company if that is your goal. When you encounter the above situations you will now know how to deal with them. Good luck and work smarter, not harder.

Image: Shutterstock


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Tommy Wyher is a marketing professional and former collegiate athlete. He enjoys consulting for new businesses as well as going for runs with his Huskies, Reptar and Nala.

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