7 HR Tips for Sustainable Tech Startups

Next Rung Technology logo: 7 HR Tips for Sustainable Tech Startups

The team of experienced engineers at Next Rung Technology, a Friend of FORGE partner, partners with growth-stage companies creating sustainable technologies to support them through the range of complex challenges faced in commercialization. In this Tools of the Trade, Next Rung Technology Senior Human Resources Consultant Paula Mayhew gives you her top seven HR tips for managing human resources as your startup grows.

Over the past 20+ years I have had the opportunity to work alongside industry leaders in the biotech, pharmaceutical and high-tech spaces, building and scaling HR functions for companies with seed funding to those with over $50M.  Learning is always an ongoing part of the process.

#1. Start as you mean to go – Compliance

It is imperative that companies make compliance a priority.  It is a smart use of resources to put processes in place to ensure that your organization meets federal and state compliance requirements from the outset vs. duplicating effort and cost by having to revisit and do clean up later on.

#2. What do you value?

Establishing the company’s values is key.  Values are the underpinning of culture and assist in hiring the right people, align performance goals and promote team growth.

#3. Right time, right place

There are all types of professionals.  Not everyone enjoys being part of an organization at all stages of growth.  Understanding a person’s need for established processes and attitude toward change can help to hire the right team at the right time.  In a start-up or early-stage organization hiring team members who are flexible and able to shift gears easily when the inevitable changes happen can help make the path to success smoother. As a company grows and matures, those same people might feel out of place with the increased structure and processes and might no longer be the right people for the place.

#4. Teach me about benefits

If a competitive benefits package is out of reach, focusing on health and wellness by contributing to health insurance above market and a multi-faceted wellness program (financial literacy, generous PTO, robust retirement planning options) help to recruit and retain the right team.

Educating your team about all benefits is key to understanding the value they provide as part of a total compensation package.  Vesting of 401K plans and the ability to invest HSA contributions are often things overlooked as “nice to haves.”  Understanding how these plans work and the value they provide goes a long way.

#5. Show me the money

In the early stages of a company, offering a benefits package may be out of reach.  However, to attract and retain top talent, it is imperative that salaries for incoming and existing employees align with market.  Bonus percentages, sign on bonuses and spot bonuses are always additional options to maintain parity.

#6. Help me learn and grow

The promotion of a well deserving team member into a supervisory/leadership role is a huge achievement.  It is extremely important to make every effort to assist in their continued growth and success in their new role by having them do managerial training, leadership training and be aligned with an internal senior-level mentor. All team members should have a clear path for advancement, including excelling in soft skills. Behavior-based strengths can be just as important as technical knowledge.

#7. Learn from everyone

Everyone knows something you don’t. Learning can and should be a two-way street if there are open lines of regular communication and an openness to hear.

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