Growing a company from the ground-up can be immensely rewarding but also challenging. With the proliferation of start-up companies in this Digital Age, the question is often asked how a business can grow from a handful of like-minded individuals with a common goal while maintaining its culture and staying in compliance with a myriad of laws that impact its operations and workplace. On May 17, 2017, Epstein Becker Green’s TMT service team was delighted to co-host with WeWork Dumbo Heights (Prospect): When Jeans Meet Suits: Keeping Your Startup Culture & Staying Compliant with Workplace Laws. Panelists Jonathan Truppman (Casper), Adam Greenberg (Warby Parker) and AJ Pires (Alloy Development) shared with us their insights as to what builds a best-in-class workplace. My takeaways from the discussion are as follows:
- Hire Carefully – It’s important to get to know potential hires, their character and personality, and whether they will share the common goals and mentality of the organization. Specific skills for the job can be taught. Try not to hire too quickly, if possible, before you have a sense that the person will fit in with the company culture. Once the organization has its defined culture and values, it will become easier to identify like-minded individuals to hire.
- It’s OK to Hire the Over Talented – When trying to fill positions, even entry-level, think long-term. The people that you bring into the organization should be people that you’d like to see grow with the company and move up. They may be overqualified at first, but give them the skills and training they need to progress even further. Nurture their ambition and their talents.
- Create an Open Door – Create an atmosphere where employees feel comfortable speaking with senior management. Not only will employees appreciate the feedback and guidance, but also, open communication can serve to address any employee concerns early on. Empower employees to make good decisions with integrity which can help stave off workplace compliance issues.
- Infuse Social Responsibility – There are many ways to give back to the community and instill philanthropic goals in employees. Foster a do-good mentality, sponsor programs and allow employees time from work to volunteer. Not only does this help the community, but it builds strong bonds and a shared vision among employees in the workplace.
- Engage Advisors When Needed – In the ordinary course, it may become necessary to seek outside advisors, especially as the business grows. It is helpful to do a gut check periodically to assess whether there are any changes in the law that can impact the business or workplace.
- Maintain Levity – Try to have fun along the way!
It certainly makes a lot of sense to build a company culture of transparency and inclusion, where talents are recognized and promoted, and giving back is a shared value. What is good for the human heart is most certainly good for the bottom line.