Two words that startups choose to ignore, but should notice without fail – Human Resource! Onboarding, training and employee retention are enormous tasks for companies of all sizes. More so, start-ups need to be prepared for personnel crises that can upset the workplace environment, operation cycles, business continuity and customer relationships. Experts even add that HR professionals these days need a whole new set of skills to navigate the thrilling, roller-coaster work atmosphere at startups.
We spoke to the founders of four of our startups in the ICT space on this topic – Chitra Gurnani Daga of Thrillophilia, Anuj Tandon from Rolocule Games, Yash Shah from Gridle and Ritam Bhatnagar from wWhere – on the various aspects of their recruitment strategy, the entailed processes and other people management issues. Before we hear what they had to say, here’s a quick snapshot of the companies we spoke to and what they do:
- Thrillophilia: An online platform for curated tours, activities and to-do things. (www.thrillophilia.com)
- Gridle: Cloud-based visual collaboration tool. (https://gridle.io/)
- wWhere: Advanced location-based application aiming to solve the perennial problem of location sharing. (http://wwhere.is/)
- Rolocule Games: Mobile entertainment software company that creates a unique blend of world class games & next gen game technologies. (http://rolocule.com/)
Successful recruitment strategy – key ingredients
Being a tech-driven company, for Ritam, the key capability that they seek in an applicant is coding skills. “The person should be a good coder and/or a good developer. It’s what matters to us the most.” He adds that though highly qualified people are important, if they are passive and blank, they are an absolute no-no!
Yash from Gridle chuckles and adds, “Never go by the resume of a person. Engage them in practical activities; a test, or an assignment, and see how well they fare. Anyone can have a flamboyant resume.”
On the other hand, considering that gaming is not much of a rage in India, for Anuj at Rolocule, the challenge is different; to be able to hire the right candidate. For him, the key ingredient is passion. “We hire people who are super passionate and train them well.”
All the founders are directly engaged in the process of hiring for their startups. Each one of them emphasized on how significant and critical it is to try and hire the right candidate at the first go, rather than waste resources at a later stage.
Key qualities in a potential hire
While for Ritam and Yash, internships have worked best; for Chitra it’s all about what the role demands; and Anuj looks for problem solvers – people who do not wait for others to resolve their issues. At wWhere, interns are appointed for a period of 3 to 6 months and if they fit into place in the company, they are offered a permanent position. This is a plus both for the company and the individual. While the former gauges if the candidate is appropriate, the latter can evaluate themselves. In wWhere, senior contenders are appointed on 6 month probation periods.
During our conversation, Chitra stressed on the fact that the aspirant should have an eagerness to learn, should have a hunger and passion to grow in life, possesses a ‘can do’ attitude and stability in his/her career. Thrillophilia’s culture can be summarized in three words as “high performing culture”. Hence, the better the work done by their employees, the better they are rewarded and recognized!
Most of the young founders get interns from colleges onboard while also using LinkedIn to hire potential candidates. For Chitra, specialized recruitment consultancies/agencies have been of great assistance because they reach out to candidates who are not necessarily active on Linkedin. Job portals are also a good pool to source talent for junior positions. Yash, on the other hand, has tried his hand at spreading the word (on new positions) particularly through social media and email campaigns.
What’s the cost of a wrong hire?
The founders had a unanimous answer to this question; “’MASSIVE!” Each of the founders stressed on the fact that it is extremely important to hire the right person, because a wrong hire costs could mean a massive loss in terms of work, time and money for the company. Moreover, a wrong/unsuitable hire damages the culture of the organization by instigating other people to work against the organization culture. For instance, for Ritam, a wrong hire pushed wWhere back by a year leading him to building the whole app again from the scratch, and delaying launch dates.
Motivating employees to stick around and dealing with attrition
All the startups have dealt with attrition, each in their own unique ways. At wWhere, mornings begin with team meetings to assess the day’s work, with business heads (in charge of individual teams) sharing the team’s achievements at the end of the month. This way, teams function better and communicate better between them. They also conduct team-building and bonding activities like badminton tournaments and yoga classes.
When Chitra hires for Thrillophilia, she says that, “you have to show them the big picture. If you show them the goals and expectations that they should achieve, they become more responsible and attracted toward the work they do.” At Thrillophilia, proficient frontrunners are given performance-driven incentives, which function as excellent motivators.
While for Yash, at Gridle, his employees are motivated by the fact that the hard work they put in is recognized on live projects and used by hundreds of users. Alternatively, Anuj at Rolocule said that they have a very open culture at the office which is a great motivation for his employees. Perhaps as a resul, and fortunately for him, he has had to face minor attrition issues.
Remuneration and ESOPs
Here again, all founders had an answer on similar lines. While senior employees know and value the significance of ESOP, the freshers who constitute the major workforce in all the three startups, are motivated and encouraged by the competitive remuneration being offered.
For Ritam and Yash, selecting and retaining the right talent has been the most challenging. Since both startups bank on colleges for hiring fresh talent and since young graduates usually prefer to opt for jobs in MNCs, finding the most suitable candidates has been tough.
However, on the other hand, Chitra thinks that selecting and retaining talent is not a challenge because that is something which is within their control. If something is askew with the hiring process, all they have to do is sit with the HR and management team and sort it out. For Anuj and Chitra, the availability of good quality resource has been the key challenge.
Here’s some critical wisdom from these four young leaders:
Lead by vision and culture: choose your team wisely, because the success of your collective team is in turn indicative of your own success, both to your customers as well as to your future investors.
What do our readers think?