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Putting A Positive, Productive Workforce in Place at Your Startup

[ 0 ] May. 20, 2013 | SBO Editor

By Colin Day, President and CEO of iCIMS

As most experienced entrepreneurs know, a happy, productive workforce is one of the most important factors in any company’s success. To thrive in a highly competitive atmosphere, it’s critical to have the right people on the bus, keep them on board, and maintain a positive workplace culture.

My company, iCIMS, has been recognized as one of the “Best Places to Work in New Jersey” by NJBIZ for two years in a row because we’ve built a strong, achievement-focused culture where employees feel valued and respected. It didn’t happen by accident: We used a deliberate strategy to create our highly motivated workforce. Here are some tips to help you build a positive, high-performance workplace culture at your startup:

·         Hire people who fit the culture you want to build: As a startup owner, you’re creating a company culture from scratch, which makes every hiring decision critical. Sometimes it may make sense to hire someone even if his or her résumé doesn’t exactly match the job description. Remember, you can teach people new skills or processes – the important thing is that they bring the right attitude and core values to their new position. At iCIMS, we’ve found that driven, passionate new team members make major contributions to our business regardless of their degree or background.

·         Clearly define company roles: One thing I learned early is how important it is to clearly identify and communicate everyone’s role within the business. At iCIMS, we defined the executive function as creating the vision and long-term direction. We charge directors with creating strategies to achieve the vision. We task managers with developing processes and removing obstacles in the short term and define tactical, operational roles for employees. These definitions have helped us succeed by clarifying the part everyone plays in the big picture.

·         Provide benefits and perks:Some companies operate under the principle that they can save money by passing on perks and benefits, but we’ve found that happier employees perform better. At iCIMS, we’ve noticed that the security that comes with the perks and benefits we provide creates goodwill that generates more value than it costs. Perks and benefits can take numerous forms, including large items like full employee healthcare coverage and smaller perks such as casual dress codes, free beverages and game rooms. These might seem like small things, but employees respond with passion and commitment.

·         Encourage teamwork and innovation:As you build your company culture, demonstrate that you value collaboration and “outside-the-box” thinking. Encourage employees to come up with more efficient ways to handle routine tasks, and ask them to work together to develop fresh new ideas. At iCIMS, we’ve created formal recognition programs to provide incentives that encourage this behavior: We have an annual “Not-To-Do Awards” program that identifies employees who have come up with new innovations or redesigned existing processes to streamline operations. The winner receives a $5,000 check.

Every company has unique needs, so building your ideal corporate culture will entail charting your own course. But there are general principles you can follow to create a happy, productive workforce, and the most important one is to use practices that benefit employees while also creating an advantage for the company.

About Colin Day

Colin Day founded iCIMS.com in 1999 and is the company’s President and CEO. Prior to founding iCIMS, Colin worked in sales and new business development at Comrise Technology, an IT staffing firm. After successfully opening a new branch office in Washington D.C., Colin recognized an opportunity to carve a technical platform out of the company, and iCIMS was born.

In addition to his responsibilities at iCIMS, Colin works to develop SaaS industry awareness and to educate HR Professionals on how to evaluate recruiting technology. He has contributed to various publications including Human Resource Executive, Employment Marketplace, and Human Capital Magazine. He has also spoken at engagements such as ReedLogic’s HR Software Leadership Conference.

Colin has received numerous recognitions and awards. He has twice received Human Capital Magazine’s HR Future Leaders Award, and has twice been rated one of the top 5 forward-thinking innovators in Fast Company Magazine’s Fast 50 Readers Challenge. In 2007, Colin was named Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year in the Information Technology Software category. In 2008, Colin was recognized as one of the state’s most dynamic business leaders in NJBIZ’s Forty under 40 award program. In 2009, he was a finalist in the “Green Executive of the Year” category of the NJBIZ Green Leadership Awards, and in 2011, he was named a finalist in the Executive of the Year category of the NJBIZ Business of the Year Awards.

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Category: Features