I’m in the midst of trying to put together an idea for a new company. This is something I’ve wanted to do for years. The hardest part of course is coming up with the right idea. I think I’ve got that.
But as equally important to me is building a company that I would be proud of and that will attract good employees and retain them.
Years ago, I was consulting at a local software company, performing their IT functions. They were a large customer of mine so I spent a lot of time there, enough that I was almost like an employee. Only I wasn’t treated as badly.
I recall one day sitting in a company meeting where the CEO and the CFO patiently explained to the employees why their expense checks would be paid as late as possible. You see, it was better for the company’s balance sheet. But don’t worry, the employees would get their money, eventually. They then basically gave a morale speech that boiled down to, “We’re not sure why everyone is complaining, you should feel lucky to have a job!”
As a contractor I had a much easier way of making sure I got my money when it was due me. I could simply stop working. A quick call to the CFO would get me paid.
This late payment of employee expenses combined with other issues basically killed morale at the company.
At the same time, my wife was recruiting for another software company across town and one of my other customers was across the river. Both were recruiting. It was amazing how many people jumped ship from the first company to either of these two companies.
One day I was at the company across the river doing some consulting. They had recently recruited a developer from the first company. Earlier that day he had submitted an expense check. Now, like any reasonable person, he would have been content waiting until the next payday or some other reasonable amount of time for his expense check.
Well later that day, I saw him walk out of the finance person’s office with his expense check in hand.
A single act bought his loyalty more than any pay raise or speech about morale could have.
I want to make sure my company (assuming it takes off) can treat its employees with the respect they deserve.