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Life and Work in Start-Ups: How to Get it Right While there is no denying the fact that Indian start-ups have created massive job opportunities, it all comes at the cost of poor work-life balance. Also, job security in the start-up world is still an elusive concept.

By Priya Kapoor

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Consider this: Over 7 lakh jobs have been created by burgeoning Indian start-ups since 2016. While there is no denying the fact that India has become the third-largest startup ecosystem in the world after the US and China, and has created massive job opportunities, it all comes at the cost of poor work-life balance. Unlike SMEs and corporates, job security in the start-up world is still an elusive concept.

During a panel discussion on 'The roller coaster of life and work in start-ups' at the Entrepreneur 2023 Summit in New Delhi, CHROs from leading start-ups came together to discuss the reasons and what can be done to attain work life balance in start-ups.

Battle of existence

Delving on the reasons why the work life balance is chaotic in start-ups, Satish Khengre, CHRO, PhysicsWallah said, "In a start-up ecoculture, there are tremendous expectations from customers. As a start-up, you have to stand out in the market, be proactive. It's a high performance culture, so employees need to be performing high, and have to put in efforts even after working hours. It's all about the battle of existence in start-ups."

While concurring with Khengre, Ganesh S, Global Chief Human Resources Officer, Emeritus and Eruditus, also emphasized the importance of positive pressure. "When people sign in for a start-up, they know that there is a hustle and that they want to work and grow faster. But having said that, it is equally important that you embed a culture of positive pressure, which means how your work is going to impact-the end customer, stakeholder and board. That gives it a purpose. Once you bring in purpose, the pressure goes off."

Making a playbook

According to Kartik Rajaram, VP and Country Head, Freshworks, the onus is also on the organizations to very clearly and explicitly lay out the culture. "There should be a playbook as founders play a very critical role in this. At Freshworks, there is a tripod-which has three aspects-Learning, growth and monetary aspects. If one leg is smaller or imbalanced, the tripod falls. So we have to make sure it grows in a balanced way so that the employees are happy and also it's a very sustainable way of building a business."

"When someone joins a start-up, there are two things that motivate them. One is money. And second is the feeling of being connected and staying belonged. And for the later the onus lies on the founders. In the initial days, founders play the role of HR. They get to work closely with people and if they are able to impart their personality, their aspiration to the team, they can have fantastic retention even with those people who have not subscribed to a typical start-up culture. The onus lies on founders, their storytelling ability and making them connected with the environment," said Vijay Yalamanchili, Founder, Keka Technologies.

Can outsourcing help?

So can outsourcing help in these startups which are not processes driven to improve retention and work life balance? "A lot of organizations are trying to outsource the mundane, repetitive tasks. The idea is to make sure that employees spend time on meaningful tasks and if they can bring down the mundane tasks through technology it will help employees stay more motivated and engaged," opined Rajaram.

Said Khengre, "Outsourcing always helps. When there is internal incapability, you can always have experts advising you and help fill the gap. It builds confidence in existing people for the short-term. Also, there are jobs that are not very important so that we can always outsource and keep down the burden of existing employees."

However, Rao says that the timing and the stage of the organization also matters. "Outsourcing is possible but timing is equally important. You have to see if the baby is big enough to understand the consequences that come with outsourcing. One has to look at the stage of the company . Outsourcing is a product of what is important."

Priya Kapoor

Former Feature Editor

Priya holds more than a decade of experience in journalism. She has worked on various beats and was chosen as a Road Safety Fellow in 2018, wherein she produced many in-depth & insightful features on road crashes in India. She writes on startups, personal finance and Web3. Outside of work, she likes gardening, driving and reading. 




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