“People” is the key and the most critical aspect of every organization and ironically, it’s also the most ignored aspect. In a startup scenario, amidst all the important tasks of fundraising, expansion, networking and reaching break-even, oftentimes specific initiatives pertaining to People and Culture are missed. In my interactions with entrepreneurs, I realized that ignoring the core People aspects isn’t a conscious decision they make, rather, it is something that gets lost amidst hundreds of other critical things. In few cases, it just slips through the crack wherein few leaders are not really sure of what exactly should to be done.

So, I thought of sharing with you all, simple yet extremely important aspects needed for a startup to align “People and Culture”.

We can segregate it into 3 categories.

1) Compliance and Statutory: This is an extremely important aspect, not only for the employees but for the organization at large. As soon as a company is incorporated, the Company Law mandates certain compliance requirements. Abiding by these is the responsibility of every leadership team and we owe this to our employees. The mandatory statutory requirements are:

i) PF & PT – Every employer should register for PF and PT (as applicable) and ensure timely submission of remittances and returns. Please note that non-compliance of this is a punishable offence and can draw huge penalty.

ii) ESI – It is the medical security of an employee. It is mandatory to file the returns and remittances on time in accordance to the ESI Act.

iii) Leave – Allocating leaves to employees is not a matter of choice. All employees are legally entitled to Earned Leaves as per the Labour Law and it is of paramount importance to accrue as well as maintain the leave tracker of all employees. Earned leaves explicitly should be reconciled on a monthly basis. Note that Earned Leave is a liability for the organization as it needs to be encashed on basic salary at the time of separation. Lack of monthly reconciliation might incur a huge monetary loss for the company.

iv) Employee Database – Since every start up commences its journey with a handful of employees, maintaining employee database gets completely missed. Employee database is not an internal requirement for an organization rather a statutory mandate. Every organization is required to maintain an exhaustive employee database as a part of statutory requirements. The essential aspects are:

a) Excel format of all employee details such as Employee No., Employee Name, Educational Details, Experience Details, Emergency Contact Number, Blood Group,PF Account Number, Insurance Number (If any) and other key information.      

b) Hard files of each employee which has to be retained for a period of 10 years.

c) Monthly headcount reconciliation (New joinees and Exits).

2) Processes & Policies: It is of paramount importance to understand that processes and policies are meant for assisting us to perform our best and not for restricting our freedom. The ‘family’ culture in startups is meant to enhance team bonding and not to lose control. Processes and Policies would help an organization to streamline work, inculcate discipline and ensure productivity. Formulating and implementing policies does not mean stringent guidelines. Policies can always be customized considering the workforce and diversity of the team.

3) Engagement: Creating an engaged workforce creates the pathway to success. While we talk about engagement, I would like to explicitly mention that engagement is not just fun activities and celebrating ethnic day at office. Engagement has to be done at a holistic level and not just through fun@work. Fun@work is an important element of engagement but not THE ONLY aspect of engagement. An employee can be engaged through various ways:

a) Career Growth

b) Empowerment

c) Creating a positive work culture

d) Recognition

E) Fun@Work

About the Author:

 Pic - PiyaliPiyali Bhattacharjee, The Founder of Zizique Management Consultants is an adept HR Professional serving the startups and larger conglomerates since the last 10 years. Prior to Zizique, she was associated with the HR functions of Infosys, Goldman Sachs and in the recent past, has been consulting as an HR advisor across industries. Piyali believes in “Nurturing Talent” and her passion lies in the People & Culture aspects of an organization – be that competency, or character or communication.