| 10 June, 2021 | 6 Min Read

How to build a scalable HR and Culture for startups

Last May, we hosted a Special Live event with startup leaders across Asia discussing how to build a scalable HR and culture for startups. The panelist includes Bao Nguyen- GM at Grove HR, Ayush Jain- CEO of Cliff.ai, Viel Merck Carillo- Former HR director at Laundrafe group, and Rauf and Khalid Fadzillah- Co-founders of Palindrome.


he Grove Live Special discusses in-depth how to build a scalable HR and culture that supports business growth in the new normal. The aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic has seen a paradigm change in the state of business as we know it.

For startups leaders, it has become more important than ever to have a sustainable HR to brave the future with. That's why Grove invited esteemed HR experts and founders to share their perspectives and best practices that come with starting a company.

Here are the key takeaways from the event.

Grove Now and Future

During the past 9 months, Grove HR has introduced over 70 new features that cover the entire employee lifecycle from recruitment to people management to time attendance to payroll. Here are some of the spotlights:

  • Onboarding checklist and self-onboarding on Grove mobile app
  • Time attendance with QR code scanning and Geofencing technology
  • Payroll module that integrates pay information automatically and accurately

We've witnessed tremendous growth over the past nine months with more than 15,000 new customers in over 20+ countries spanning from the Asia Pacific to Africa.

Moving forward, the aftermath of the pandemic has brought on a new normal for businesses worldwide and according to a survey by YouGov, there was a 50% drop in motivation for employees under 35 in the workforce. 

That prompted us to figure out how we could help you create better cultures in the workplace. In the next quarter, we'll be releasing new features that will help you create experience and culture to connect with your employees and grow at scale. 

  • Create groups, clubs and surveys so employees can connect over similar interests
  • Receive and request feedback from colleagues and managers to facilitate growth
  • New modern and agile practice of performance assessment. 

You can sign up for the Beta program to be the first one experiencing the new updates. 

How to create an employee-centric culture

The Covid-19 pandemic had forced companies around the world to embrace the new normal that includes working from home. With remote work being the current order of the day, here's how you can create an employee-centric culture at work even though it's remote. 

1. Engage employees through gamification: Gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts. This increases engagement among employees and also encourages employees and managers to interact and collaborate. It would promote a healthy culture and motivate employees to achieve a high score.

2. Don't micromanage your employees: To create a healthy culture centred around the employees, it is important to not micromanage all of their activities. You can offer support and feedback from time to time but don't step in and take over their operations. Guide them and let them perform on their own. 

3. Reduce distractions: With the use of management tools and communication tools, you can cut down on possible distractions for the employees working remotely. 

Culture is one of the aspects that need to be considered when scaling a diverse team and we align them by:

  • Understanding each individual strengths and weaknesses and how they can grow within the company 
  • Consistent Communication and Performance Conversation with the leaders in a 1:1/Team format (Monthly)
  • Aligning all OKRs with the Vision, Mission and Core Values of the Company

In building an employee-centric culture, you should integrate the culture into new hires right from the pre-boarding process and all through to the on-boarding process. Provide new hires with small packages or use a welcome video that offers a vibe of the culture in the company. 

Hire for growth: Start with a winning team

To build a winning team,  don't just hire based on the candidate's skills alone, hire for growth, hire candidates that are more inclined to contribute massively to the development of the company.

As a growing startup, it is inevitable that you'd have to pay a higher salary in order to land a top-tier talent that will take the company forward. It is advisable that you develop your employees ahead of time to be qualified to take on bigger roles. 

An example Bao Nguyen mentioned that:

We look into the need for 2022, that's at least 6 months ahead, so we can scaffold our employees into positions we'd need in 2022. This process helps us minimize the need to have too many people from outside on a higher salary come in and might not even be a cultural fit for our company.

By developing the talents already in the company for bigger roles, the company won't just be scaling up on its own, the employees will also grow into a winning team. 

New ways to retain and empower employees

Providing a clear career path and making provisions for employee development helps in retaining and empowering employees. 

Rauf and Khalid suggested employing military tactics to encourage employees to learn and grow - for themselves and for organization success.

For example, using the decentralization of command, every employee in a company is given a common objective and then they're separated into departments that will take it upon themselves to establish how the objective can be achieved. Employees are further separated into teams that take on different responsibilities to contribute to the same common objective. 

This tactic improves professional development and also offers clarity during performance evaluation to promote individual growth and development. 

Another way is to turn traditional performance review into a “performance enablement” session - a practice Bao Nguyen applies at Grove HR. A new agile and flexible review system where employees can get regular feedback from all angles at work, that includes feedback from managers above, feedback from colleagues on the same level, and also feedback from the bottom up.

This helps managers have regular one-on-one conversation with the employees that improve their overall efficiency at work. The feedback helps them work towards their personal development as well as the company's objectives. 

Best practices to streamline people management

A disorganized management system can affect the sustainability of HR in a company. Here are some of the best practices to streamline people management in the workplace:

  • Providing a clear definition of the job description, roles and responsibilities to team members. 
  • Making use of tools and software that contributes to both employee and company growth. 
  • Implementing an HR policy to set the norm for accepted behaviours at work. 

Last but not least, create an employee experience at every stage of your employee journey. Start right from the onboarding stage by introducing the new hire to the company— its values and culture. Plus, with HR software like Grove HR, they'd experience a seamless onboarding process that'd help them in fitting right into the company. 

Throughout the employment journey:

  • Hold weekly/monthly discussion and/or among the employees to foster healthy relationships and create a sense of progress and a work cadence
  • Open feedback, monthly Lunch & Share to talk about growth and doing things beyond the comfort zone
  • Host every-day activities, assign team monthly budget, have small surprises, peer-to-peer recognition 

Check out the entire Live Special by watching the full event below:

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Reduce manual effort with automated HR processes

  • Reduce manual effort with automated HR processes
  • Automate attendance and time off.
  • Conduct 360-degree performance management easily.