STARTUPS: CRACKING THE CODE OF HR… And if it was just that simple!

Thinking about HR gives you headaches??? Well you are not the only one! In the past year I’ve met hundreds of startups and their story is invariably the same:

“We have no time, no money and no resources to allocate to HR!”, “We are too small for that… maybe later, when we hit the big time!”,“Our office manager is dealing with payroll and holiday-leaves, I think we are all set!”

Sounds familiar?

Well, I somehow agree with you… Why complicate things when they can be simple! And it CAN be simple!


Let’s just speak LEGO for a moment.


We all know LEGO. It starts with an idea: what we want to build, which colours and sizes, and why...


A few months ago my daughter decided to build a little town by herself.


1. We sat down and DETERMINED the look and feel, the size and the colours.


2. She DESIGNED a plan for her village. She decided where the roads would be and outlined what the houses would look like.


3. She needed LEGO, a lot of LEGO. Specific shapes, sizes and colours. We did not have enough, so we agreed on a budget and she BOUGHT the missing LEGO, knowing she could re-use the pieces for future creations...


After a few weeks, she had built her LEGO village!




4. She played with it for some time. Then her little brother decided he too would build a village. She donated a few of her precious LEGO, but made sure she was KEEPING all those which would be important for her redevelopment and future expansion plans!


5. Over time, she GREW her village - and has continued on building whole new worlds...





Again, sounds familiar?

This is probably what you went through to build your startup “Business Strategy”. The same goes for people, you need to put a strategy in place. And it's exactly the same approach that needs to be taken when developing a 'People Strategy'- you need to put a plan in place. And, it does not have to be overly complicated, it just needs to be CONSCIOUSLY PLANNED and CONSISTENTLY executed.

Why People Strategy is so important?

BECAUSE people are your most important asset and having the right People Strategy can literally make or break your company.

BECAUSE companies with “an adaptive culture aligned to their business goals” routinely outperform their competitors (studies report the difference at 200% plus).

BECAUSE hiring, keeping and developing your employees is crucial, as the cost of turnover can be extremely high (it costs on average over 150% of employees’ annual salary to replace them due to business disruption, loss of business opportunities, productivity loss on top of direct hiring and training costs).


So, how to develop a good People Strategy?

Make it SIMPLE. No need to copy those complex HR processes the MNCs are using - they are not suited for small organisations. In fact, even MNCs are moving away from traditional more structured HR approaches and are looking at more flexible models. You don’t even need a dedicated HR specialist resource until you reach a critical size.


Here are the 5 key pillars for a healthy “People Strategy” - just the same simple building blocks you would use to build a LEGO village:


1. DEFINE(Determining your idea): Clearly defining the Culture, Mission and Values are what will drive CONSISTENCY in your People and Business Strategies.

2. ORGANISE(Designing the LEGO plan): Organizing is the “hygiene piece” of your “People Strategy”, which will translate the culture into policies, and establish fair, legal and productive business practices.

3. ATTRACT(Buying LEGO): An efficient hiring process ensures the recruitment of the right people, for the right position, at the right time - with objective, unbiased and consistent practices.

4. RETAIN(Keeping LEGO): A good retention strategy prevents the high cost associated with staff turnover and significantly boost productivity.

5. DEVELOP(Growing your LEGO village): Developing the employees’ careers is not only key to creating a highly satisfying place to work (by attracting and retaining excellent staff), but also increases the company’s asset bank of skills, and improves the company’s intellectual capital and wealth of expertise.


It is never too late to get started: block some to time to consciously and proactively identify what each of those pillars mean for your startup and you can put simple building blocks in place to create your own 'People Strategy'!


So, are you ready to build your own LEGOLAND?