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Cooking up a Startup Culture Where Employees Are Happy The opportunity to create your own start-up culture allows you to get things right from the start!

By Asif Upadhye

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Start-ups are the norm today. Anyone with a decent amount of capital, a bright idea and the drive to be successful seems ready to start-up a business of their own. While all that's great, with the large number of start-ups springing up, competition is on the rise as well. The pressure to make your start-up a success and preventing it from meeting its doom is high. So, what makes your start-up successful? Happy employees are the crux of any successful organization but how can you ensure that your employees are happy?

While starting up at the right place, at the right time and with the right product is an obvious necessity, it is not enough. The opportunity to create your own start-up culture allows you to get things right from the start. The culture within your start-up is an important, though not an overtly apparent, determinant of happiness at work. Your organizational culture is the DNA of your start-up and makes you who you are. Your culture is what lets people know whether you're an up-start or a startup!

Before you jump at a great idea and start-up, maybe you should slow down a little and plan on your start-up culture. There might not be any "perfect" recipe for cooking up a start-up culture where your employees are happy, but this might help: -


A handful of bright, hard-working and talented People,

One good dollop of Passion,

A bunch of strong Values,

A dash of Ideas,

A sprinkle of the right Attitude,

Lots of Patience,

A pinch of fresh Perspective and



One passionate, dedicated, happy start-up.

Step 1: Value your values

Your corporate values are not meant to be high-sounding words that look good on and remain limited to the confines of your "About the company" page. These should be values that you believe in, that you feel your employees can relate to and your organization can live by and benefit from. Your values should be in keeping with your end goal. Having a small workforce when you're starting out can be an advantage as you get to involve more people in the process of developing a value system that will form the backbone of your culture. Your employees are bound to be happier when they can relate to the values that they are to live by. Happyness Quotient, powered by Never Grow Up, is a tool that helps you measure happiness while also giving you the option to assign weightages, auto-pilot deployment and track what matters to your company.

Step 2: Hire right and acknowledge differences

People make up your organization and so you need to choose the right ones. This is not to be interpreted as the need to hire exactly the same type of people, unless you want to end up with a workforce like Willy Wonka's identical Oompa Loompas (though they were a lot of fun!). Diversity adds an essentially holistic note to any workplace. At the same time, it is necessary to imbibe your values and culture into your recruitment process so that you attract and retain talent who echo your organizational culture. Having to choose between efficiency and culture might be a difficult call but it is better to retain an average employee who fits into your culture rather than a star-performer who is toxic for your culture. Moreover, since every employee is different, make sure to not have a one-size-fits-all approach.

Step 3: Work through the levels

You need to weave your culture into every process of your organization and create a culture all your employees can relate too. As a tool, it could prove to be even more powerful than strategy. Your culture should be flexible but within limits. Flexibility will help your organization to maintain its culture even as it starts growing and has to incorporate changes over time. In a start-up, the main responsibility of the culture rests on the shoulders of the founder. It becomes your responsibility to create an environment that is conducive to the culture you want everyone to adopt.

There you have it! Your start-up culture is ready to be served and to make yours a happier workplace. The best thing though is that you can be as creative as you want and not stick to the recipe. You can keep adding more ingredients into it while you let is simmer over time and (if you've done the right mis en place) it will just get better!

Starting up your own organization gives you an opportunity to start working on your culture early. Grab this opportunity and work at it right. You have the power to set the tone for your organization; the power to steer your start-up through the challenges of low morale, high employee attrition and damaged client relationships towards higher productivity, happiness at work, satisfied clients, success and happiness!

Asif Upadhye

Director, Never Grow Up (NGU)

Armed with Business Management degrees from reputed colleges in India, Asif Upadhye started his career in Marketing and Communications within the Financial Sector.

He has over seven years of experience in Marketing & Product Management & has worked with companies like HDFC Ltd, HSBC & Barclays. While working with these leading firms, he began nursing the idea of starting his own venture that would concentrate on building and positively enhancing the Indian corporate workplace culture. This is how ‘Never Grow Up ®’ came into existence in 2010.

Asif started with one client who believed in his idea and there has been no looking back ever since. He also takes time out to teach and share experiences as a faculty or guest lecturer at various Management Institutes on a regular basis and co-founded Yellow Seed Content Solutions, a content strategy & development agency that has already found acceptance in the industry circles.


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