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Why Employees Quit Startups: A Reality Check | Inc42


The world of startups is an ever evolving one. The lives of those who work at these hubs of excitement, creativity, and fun are never boring. Countless fresh graduates dream of entering this wonderland the minute they are done with college and startups are increasingly beating their corporate counterparts by becoming preferred employers. While all of this makes the startup world exciting and enticing, an undeniable truth is the high level of attrition. And, reality check? A lot of employees quit startups.

While the glory of startups and the immense potential that they present to the youth and even the experienced, manages to attract the best, it seldom doesn’t manage to hold on to them. The very aspects that make the startups attractive are many a times the reason why employees decide to leave. Are you wondering why and how? Let’s hear them out.

Reality Check: “Hey Dude, Do You Know A Restaurant That Delivers At 3 am?”

Flexible working hours that were one of the biggest attractions of the startup culture are turning into long hours. Employees are spending days and nights at work in order to live up to the high expectations of the founders, to compete with their peers, and prove their worth in a world that is known to be ruthless. The exception turns into the norm and soon employees struggle to create a work life balance. These long work hours finally take a toll and lead to a burn out, leaving the employees craving for the less exciting but manageable 9 to 5 life.

Why Employees Quit Startups:”Isn’t This Different From What We Planned To Do?”

One of the key reasons people join startups is that they believe in the founder’s vision. As the startup expands, the vision is often lost in the process of achieving short-term goals. The cut throat world of startups means can sometimes mean compromise, a reality check. This compromise manifests in an evolved vision, for the sake of progress or pure sustenance. Post a period of time, this change leads to frustration amongst the people who believed in the original vision and the product.

“I Am Getting Married, Bro. Money Is Tight Right Now.”

A word that best describes startups is volatile. With all the mergers, acquisitions, fundings, and bankruptcies that continuously take place in this world, job and financial security is another reason why employees leave their alluring startup jobs once they make a serious personal or financial commitment. This of course, if the venture cannot match their expectations or share a definitive road map for career progression.

“I Have Been Doing The Same Thing For Years.”

“I have too much to do.”

The work culture of startups is often touted to be the kind that encourages learning, collaboration, and growth. This culture attracts many employees who are eager to learn and gain experience in a short period of time by doing an array of different things. Sometimes, this also means that employees don’t have fixed roles or job profiles. All employees often pitch in as much as they can to accomplish common goal.

If this becomes the norm, employees may feel that there is too much to do and that there is ambiguity about their role in the organisation. While startups grow rapidly, many a times people are stuck doing what they were doing when they started with the company. The culture of these places is often touted to be the kind that encourages learning, collaboration, and growth. But in the race to excel or sometimes just exist, this fundamental need of employees is often forgotten. And after a point, with all the experience and learning, employees decide to grab the next attractive opportunity that promises mentorships and learning possibilities, more clarity and structure.

“Doesn’t This Place Feel Different Now? Has Our Culture Changed?”

Many startups do reach their goals of success and growth. To achieve these difficult milestones, they grow as a company increasing the employee headcount, moving to new offices, and expanding to different cities. While doing this, the core culture of the company is at risk of getting diluted. During this long journey, the first employees often feel that the company has changed too much or no longer functions the way it used to. Many of these employees are emotionally invested in the company having worked tirelessly to put it on the map. This leads them to look for better opportunities and greener pastures.

This is a reality check. But, does it have to be like this? Absolutely not! It is possible to get people to continue to work with a startup even after it achieves considerable success. The key to doing so is focussing just as much on employee growth as on staff engagement, and welfare to ensure not many employees quit startups; it should always be people first. The structure and the work culture of startups demand that when the company grows, it focusses on keeping the promises made as a part of its core foundation. Look out for those who work towards your success while aiming to reach for your goals to avoid losing them.

This article first appeared on the Inc42 website.

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