Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

5 Reasons Why Startups Are Stealing The Best Talent

L Marks

Working at NatureBox for the past three weeks has been an absolute whirlwind of new experiences. But admittedly, while I was driving to my new home in Silicon Valley, I was wondering what all the fuss surrounding the startup culture was truly about.

After all, the area looked exactly like the Southern California suburbs I had grown up in. Sure, there were more Teslas driving themselves on the road, but only the traffic seemed to disrupt these otherwise old, quiet neighborhoods.

But to my surprise, the doubt I had built up slowly chipped away with each day of work. After a full week, I finally came to terms that the startup culture I experienced was more fantastic than the hype I had heard. My coworkers agreed that they had no idea what they were missing out on until they decided to join a startup. The change of environment provides much-needed perspective to precisely compare the differences.

Why are so many of your friends joining startups? No need to wait to find out why. From someone who has worked in both corporate and startup environments, here are five reasons why your friends are personally gaining from joining a startup and what corporations can do to up their game.


1. Become a Well-Rounded All Star

Regardless of your position name, you will inevitably wear many hats at a startup. And that, my friend, will make you essential to any organization.

At many corporations, the large workforce often results in employees focusing on a singular task. For instance, if you work on email marketing at a large corporation, you will be tasked with only developing the strategy, while others solely code, design, or write copy for the email. But at a startup, you will deal with a variety of tasks; allowing you to master each aspect of the process and develop a well-rounded skill set.

Psychologist Carol Dweck states that individuals innately have “a desire to learn new skills, master new tasks, or understand new things — a desire to get smarter.” Startups provide the ideal environment to satisfy personal learning goals, by creating a healthy habit to increase your competence daily.

Putting such diverse experiences on your plate boosts the potential for promotion to management positions, as employers are always searching for managers who understand all of the pieces of the puzzle.

The small scale of a startup makes it easy to get involved in cross-functional projects to learn the business and expanding your professional network of contacts. Employees become generalists naturally and familiarize themselves with a variety of business areas that enable them to gain a FastPass to management.

But in larger organizations that do not implement startup techniques, this is not often the case. Individuals viewed as having general management potential often work in a series of assignments, rotating through the various functions and gradually growing their expertise and responsibilities over many years. Many managers have come up through the large company after slowing moving up the rungs of the corporate ladder. Even after decades, there may still be many others ahead of you in line that have put in more years.

Startups do not have time to waste, and therefore promotions are not considered in years working for the company, but instead by the quality of work produced.


2. Truly Supportive Teams

Passion for the product and mission is higher in priority than pay, creating an active and intrinsically motivated workforce.


Joining NatureBox, I was surprised to see none of the cold, isolated work environments typical in business. There was no keeping coworkers at a distance and instead, everyone was comfortable with sharing all their ups and downs openly knowing that their team was there for them in both personal and professional difficulties. I expected there to be at least some form of catty competition or attention-seeking behavior in the workplace but nope, not even close.

I’ve realized that the success of keeping a healthy workplace is attributed to the fact that in a startup, everyone is passionate about the product and want it to succeed; therefore company goals are a personal priority to everyone. Startups create small, tight-knit teams that are ready to support one another and do whatever it takes to help the startup achieve success.

There is no space for “I” in startups.

The great teams in startups benefit both the company and each individual employee. When a task is handed to an effective team, the task will be completed quickly and accurately, decreasing work stress and reflecting well on all members of the team. The open and candid conversations within a strong team environment allow for the best ideas to be generated. Healthy teams also create a fostering environment for each member to improve their performances and grow their professional development.


3. Cut the Bureaucracy

How often have you heard a friend complaining about the old processes and procedures that are engrained, never to change, and many times, just don’t work efficiently?

Thinglass / Shutterstock

Not in the startup sector!

Continuous change and innovation is the only constant in the startup world. It is important for there to be procedures in place to avoid chaos, but the procedures must always be open to improvement.

Starting afresh to put in place the most strategic and efficient method is a huge struggle for companies to face. With scores of employees that have been working a certain way for decades, improving the policy often takes many years to implement.

By that time, they will still be behind the world that continues to evolve around them.

When company growth stalls, personal growth naturally slows down as well. You are truly “a product of your environment,” and a workplace that is constantly looking to improve will push you to stay aware and always be on your top of your game.


4. Organizational Communication & Subsequent Opportunities

Startups do not require a complex organizational structure. In the early stages, they can even rely on a flat or horizontal organizational structure where there are few or no levels of middle management between staff and executives.

No need to deal with this:

Cartoon Resource / Alamy Stock Photo

The decrease of middle management makes it easier for employees to take on leadership positions that are coveted at large corporations.

The responsibilities and importance associated with positions are usually higher in the structure of a startup. For example, a general manager is typically in charge of a department, but in startups, they are one of the top executives directly working with the CEO. This provides valuable experience that puts them straight on the C-Suite track.

The lack of complex structure also allows for open communication and honest feedback. Every day you are surrounded by a team that views each other as equals despite their official title. The isolated offices of executives have been quickly replaced with co-working space centered on teamwork and openness without the old fashioned cubicles barricading communication.

There is increased visibility in a small team, so your effort will not be overlooked. If you show that you are steadily producing the best work on your team, promotion is likely as soon as a position opens.


5. Work in Comfort

Gone are the times of ironed suits and uncomfortable high heels that require a change of shoes underneath your desk.

Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

Comfort is the new cool. Denim, floral, and athleisure are staples at any startup.

Almost any competitive startup will offer a fully stocked kitchen with healthy options, allow pets at work, the ability to work remotely, company-wide catered lunches, team workouts, and unlimited vacation. Established startups have professional massages, happy hour, and many more perks for you to enjoy.

Research has shown that these benefits increase motivation and create a positive work environment that leads to higher productivity. Statistics support that employee happiness is a major factor for outperforming the competition and increasing profits.

Startups utilize these perks to attract and keep the best talent amidst increasing competition between startups for the most sought after employees and also to make sure that their employees function at their optimum level. No need to stress anymore about packing lunches daily and using up all your vacation time, decrease your worries today with a startup!


“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

— Wayne Gretzky

Now that you know what is waiting for you — take a leap of faith and skate to a startup to learn the many other reasons not featured on this list!


Dear Corporations

No need to worry, there is still time to make your workplace more enticing for the best talent. You can make improvements to address these factors and in fact, some large corporations have already implemented startup-like cultures within their teams and now, enjoy the perks mentioned in this article. Culture is becoming the dominant factor for job satisfaction and is increasingly more important to millennials so take action now.

Note: This article is in regards to experience at a mid-sized startup with 100+ employees currently.

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