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3 Tips to Boost Employee Engagement in Startups

You could write the best business plan. You could write the best strategic plan. But if you aren't able to engage your employees, your brilliant plans and ideas might never come to fruition.

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement is the emotional commitment that an employee has to their organization and its goals. It directly affects how employees work.

Check out these statistics that illustrate the importance of employee engagement:

  • Only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged in their jobs. Employee disengagement costs the United States upwards of $550 billion a year in lost productivity and (Source: Gallup)

  • 33% of employees leave their jobs for new challenges. (Source: Korn Ferry)

  • Employees who find a passion and purpose at work are more than 3 times as likely to stay with their organizations than those who don't. (Source: New York Times)

  • Highly engaged employees result in a 23% increase in profitability. (Source: Gallup)

  • Engaged employees reduce absenteeism by 41%. (Source: Gallup)

  • Thriving employees have 53% fewer missed days due to health issues.

Companies have to be able to develop their employees, engage them, and motivate them. In early-stage startups, this can sometimes be a challenge. In this article, we list 3 tips to help boost employee engagement.

tips to boost employee engagement in startups

1) Invest in your company culture

Company culture goes above and beyond the presence of foosball tables & endless snacks. Company culture is how a set of shared values, goals, attitudes and practices that characterize an organization. A great company culture has a strong influence on employee engagement. In fact, 77% of employees agree a strong culture allows them to do their best work. In other words, a strong corporate culture can improve a startup's financial performance significantly.

Having a set of strong company values that guide the organization and the people in the company are a great start to building a great company culture.

2) Give feedback and recognition often

Startups are often budget-strapped. Feedback and recognition are two cost-effective ways to boost employee engagement. 43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week, compared to only 18% of employees with low engagement. Another study on top performance motivators found that 37% of employees feel most encouraged by personal recognition.

It is important to note that feedback and recognition are particularly important to the younger generation of employees. Generation Y and Z want more feedback. They want to improve. Startups should prioritize enabling a culture of feedback at the get-go. This will help develop, motivate, and engage employees to do their best work.

We recommend setting up a bi-weekly reminder to share feedback with your team.

If your performance management process (feedback/goals/reviews) needs a revamp, our business consultants at iota consultants can help. Feel free to reach out.

3) Leaders/founders/managers have to be great

68% of employees would consider leaving their job if they didn’t feel supported by more senior employees. Moreover, leaders/managers account for at least 70% of variance in employee engagement scores across business units. Simply put, management has large role in employees' engagement and productivity. In the context of an early-stage startup, management may refer solely to the founders. Founders need to embody company values, and they need to give feedback and recognize good work from their team.

We recommend developing your leadership skills through coaching, training, and/or mentoring. Good leaders/managers can make all the difference in employee engagement. In startups where every person/resource/minute counts, this can make all the difference in the success of the company.


Your people are your company's most valuable asset. Startups that do not put their employees first and ensure that they are engaged are doomed to fail.


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