Start-ups' enhanced focus on employee-centric policies signal building long-term businesses

Yatti Soni Bengaluru | Updated on October 17, 2021

However, it is also essential to ask whether these policies aim to increase employee retention and attract diverse talent or to finally address the stressful environment that usually exists in high growth start-ups.

From social commerce start-up Meesho announcing 30-week gender-neutral parental leave to Snapdeal rolling out wellness measures for women employees, and fintech start-up slice introducing three days work week — Indian start-ups have claimed an increased focus on employee-centric policies.

Experts believe this focus on company culture is a positive shift from start-ups’ hustle culture and might be a sign that these companies are looking to build long term businesses.

“When we see that a company is investing in company culture, we know that they are here for the long run and are not just looking to get acquired in a few years. Why else would they do that, if they don’t have a 10-year plan,” said Pallavi Pareek, Founder and CEO of Ungender, gender laws advisory for workplaces.

To attract new talents

However, it is also important to ask whether these policies aim to increase employee retention and attract diverse talent or to finally address the stressful environment that usually exists in high growth start-ups.

While these employee benefits might attract new talent to companies. The real test is about ensuring that opting for these benefits are treated fairly and do not have to suffer an impact on their growth in the company.

“When an entity constitutes policies like a three day work week or other kinds of benefits for a certain gender. It is important to ensure that other supporting mechanisms have been set in place and the employees who opt for these benefits do not have to pay a price for it. Otherwise these policies will end up being similar to situations where companies announce that women will not have to work beyond 6 pm or they do not have to come on the weekends. But, if other employees are still working late evenings and during the weekends, it is them who end up getting appraisals, and the sought-after promotion,” Pareek added.

Inclusive policies

Further, Saundarya Rajesh, Founder-President of Avtar, an organisation that provides strategy and implementation solutions in diversity, equity and inclusion, noted that in the last two decades of Avtar’s work, they have observed that organisations are often faced with regretted attrition (employees who leave companies on their own accord and the organisation truly regrets upon losing them). And, this attrition occurs due to a lack of structural inclusive policies to include the large, diverse talent pool.

“Looking at the attrition trends, it is heartening to see some of the Indian start-ups rolling out inclusive policies. This indicates that the DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) intent exhibited by these companies is not only just “good PR” but their deep intentionality in having a diverse and inclusive workforce that will enable them to think differently and eventually generate revenue,” she added.

Avtar’s 100 Best Companies have established the quantifiable impact of increased gender diversity in organisations. Based on the data available with us from the last year’s study, among the Top 10 and 100 Best Companies for Women in India, 68 companies reported an increase in operating profit; 52 companies said improved innovation as a result of new product lines; and 81 companies reported an increase in customer satisfaction, all with a positive correlation to increased diversity and intentional inclusion.

Published on October 17, 2021

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