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3 Lessons Big Organisations Can Learn About Company Culture From Startups

February 19, 2019
HR Wisdom

I’ve been working at a start-up for almost six months now and it is unlike any other organisation I have ever worked in. The trust, efficiency, and support are unparalleled. The company’s culture has more in common with a professional sports team than a business. To such an extent that it feels strange for me to refer to the CEO as... ‘my boss’. The word just doesn’t seem to have the right connotations. Leader? Absolutely. Mentor? Definitely. But boss? It doesn’t sit right. We’re a team, by every definition of the word - and teams don’t have ‘bosses’.

Often, because of a startup’s size, they have the luxury of operating with more freedom than a large corporation. However, I don’t think this should prohibit these larger companies from taking some pointers from the smaller ones. I’ve jotted down three features of our company’s culture that I think would be beneficial for larger, more established corporations to take note of. These three characteristics have stood out in my mind as being distinctly ‘startup-esque’ - and I mean that in the best way possible.

1. Autonomy

As the world moves towards flexible and remote working, companies that give their employees autonomy over their work are likely to prosper. As one of GoSweat’s core values, autonomy is a bedrock of our company culture. But even if it wasn’t, I’d want to include it anyway. When employers trust their employees to take ownership of their work, great things can happen. Motivated by a sense of ownership, they’ll create work that they are proud of and believe in themselves. It can energise the employee with a sense of responsibility and greater job satisfaction, with increased productivity as a strong by-product.

Tech at work
Kent (CEO) in a 'coding hole'

2. The days are long, but the years are short.

If I didn’t know any better (and I don’t), I would believe this to be one of Alex’s (the CEO’s) favourite quotes. The quote, from American author Gretchen Rubin, perfectly encapsulates the attitude towards efficiency and time management at GoSweat. ‘You can get a lot done in a day, but blink, and it’s next year already’. In a world where the survival of the company depends on making every second count, this mindset becomes law. In established companies, this unforgiving motivator no longer exists; often taking with it the company’s uncompromising efficiency. If a company can emulate a startup's attitude towards efficiency, one can only expect a paradigm shift in how that company does business.

Startup Meetings
Left to Right: Alex, Harrison, Steph. Meeting in progress.

3. Well-being Support

I’ve written a number of articles during my time here at GoSweat, many of which have focused on employee well-being. Thus much of my research has been focused on this topic as well. Such research overwhelming supports the employers taking an active role in their employees' well-being. One of the perks of being a GoSweat employee is access to our own flexible wellness benefit GoSweat for Work. Trying my best not to pitch to you, but it’s an excellent way for employers to be actively involved in their employees’ well-being, without micromanaging them. GoSweat for Work instantly gives your employees the freedom to be active whenever, wherever and however they like. A fitness benefit like this means that a team is healthier, happier, and more productive. The results speak for themselves here at GoSweat… or that might just be the office dogs? It’s difficult to tell sometimes.

Office Dogs
Shoutout To Office Dogs

Expectations of work (both from an employer’s and employee’s perspective) are changing. How people work is changing. The world of work itself is changing. Do startups get it right every time? Definitely not. But that doesn’t mean that their company culture should be immediately written off. There is a lot that big companies can learn from startups, and there is a lot that startups can learn from their more established counterparts. At the end of the day, everyone’s working towards bettering the society we live in.

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Owen is the self-confessed least active member of the GoSweat team. However, his enthusiasm to try new things has helped him discover a number of physical activities that he really enjoys. It won't be long before Owen is trying out for the Olympics - ok, that might be a bit of a stretch but one can dream!

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