Thursday, December 31, 2009

Do start-ups have HR?

Recently, I've been talking with lots of entrepreneurs and start-up founders here in the New York area. A main goal was to dig - to discover what HR 'stage' they are in, what their challenges are, and learn about their HR strategy. I found, and what I'm now feeling is the norm, there were no HR plans. No thoughts about HR. No concerns. Yikes.

This is worse than I thought. I could have guessed most biz plans didn't include a dedicated HR hire until 50+ employees. Am I right? It's one of those functions that doesn't shout look at these bottom line deliverables. It might be difficult to demonstrate the ROI? It's just easier not to think about HR.

Who does the hiring, I asked. Who picks and administers benefits and insurance and that stuff? The CEO responds "me, and it takes loads of time." Just for items like this, I wonder why seeing HR more strategically isn't obvious. Does compensation planning, training (as a benefit and as a legal protection), facilitating communication/employee relations, or putting the minimal legal employment compliance in place help put the justification for HR over the edge?

Well, I said it. 'HR at startups'. It should not be a stranger to the sharp, forward thinking start-up.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Taking Time to Enjoy the Team

I've been off the map recently because we have been BUSY. In addition to Board Meetings and big client projects, we had our Holiday Party and our 2010 Strategy Meeting. Both important and time consuming events - and both events that have kept me deep in the engagement state of mind.

Our Holiday Party was rejuvenating. We did employee trivia - can you guess what past odd jobs and unique experiences your co-workers have had? We had some drinks, grabbed some silly props, and took some company pictures. Of course, we exchanged secret Santa gifts and shared a fancy dinner - complete with heartfelt employee toasts.

Our Holiday Dinner reminded us that we need to do more hanging out together as a group. We enjoy it and it makes work even more fun.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Ok, I'm officially interested in 'engagement' - as a topic, as a field, and as a start-up game changer.

I recently tweeted some Gallup results noting that almost three quarters of employees today don't consider themselves 'actively engaged' in their work. Look at four of your employees and pick the three that aren't actively engaged. If your start-up only has 3 folks, I'm not sure what to do.

No matter what 'actively engaged' means or if this stat really applies to your work environment (of course it doesn't right?) this is some serious business to think about. It is something to be concerned about. Think of the lost productivity, the negativity, the turnover, ahhh... This is something to act on.

Your employees might not be engaged if....

They are overwhelmed with work, they are in an environment with poor communication and uncertainty, the business direction and strategy is not relevant to them, they don't feel safe learning new skills or trying new things, they don't understand the big picture, they don't trust their leaders, or their leaders refuse to embrace reality.

Do any of those sound familiar? What is happening, or not happening, due to lack of engagement? What active steps do you do to keep people engaged?