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5 Ways to Make Startup a Rewarding Workplace

ET Cases, 16 Slides
AUTHOR(S) : Vandana Jayakumar and Dr. Nagendra V. Chowdary

Case Preview

5 Ways to Make Startup a Rewarding Workplace

Startup Challenges

It can be grueling to run a startup. But to have the best resources on board, especially young talent, the company must be a rewarding place to work at. ET tells you how you can get there........

Teaching Note Preview

5 Ways to Make Startup a Rewarding Workplace



This Case Slide, based on The Economic Times slide show analyzes the various ways suggested to make a startup a rewarding workplace. The case slide helps understand the meaning of a rewarding workplace before delving into the significance of the same. It enables an in-depth analysis of ways such as outlining a purpose, getting the latest technological tools, putting people first, being a hands-on leader and creating a tradition, that help in creating a rewarding workplace. From the analysis, what comes out is the paramount role of the leader in building a rewarding startup workplace.

Prerequisite Conceptual Understanding

  • • Stephen P. Robbins, et al., “Organizational Culture”, Organizational Behavior, 15th Edition, Dorling Kindersley (India) Pvt. Ltd., 2013
  • • Stephen P. Robbins, et al., “Leadership”, Organizational Behavior, 15th Edition, Dorling Kindersley (India) Pvt. Ltd., 2013
  • • Blake and Mouton’s Managerial Grid


Suggested Reading for the Faculty

  • • Cynthia A Montgomery, “Putting Leadership Back into Strategy”, Harvard Business Review, January 2008
  • • Joan Magretta and Nan Stone, What Management Is: How it Works and Why It’s Everyone’s Business, Free Press, December 25th 2012
  • • Emma Seppälä and Kim Cameron, “Proof that Positive Work Cultures are More Productive”, Harvard Business Review, December 1st 2015


Case Positioning and Setting

This Case Slide can be used in:

  • • Executive Development Program in the Organizational Behavior course to understand the ways to create rewarding workplaces, at startups in particular and also appreciate the significance of the same
  • • MBA Program in Entrepreneurship module


Suggested Orchestration of this Case Slide

As this Case Slide comes with an unique format of case discussion questions, the following are suggested to have impactful and intended learning outcomes:

The Case Slide can either be shared with the participants/students before the classroom discussion/analysis or the Case Slide can be shown directly in the classroom (which would require little more time) as per the requirement.

  • • Organize a slide show of the PPT and encourage the participants/students to read very carefully every word in each of the slides. Should there be any need, the participants may be encouraged to write down the content of the slides. Some words in each of the slides are highlighted to do “connecting-the-dots” exercise during the course of classroom analysis of this case slide
  • • Slides 1–7 come with only the text without any questions, followed by Questions for Discussion from Slide 8
  • • Slides 9–15 contain the questions for each of the earlier slides with each of the slide’s original content displayed on the top portion of the slides.
  • • The students/participants should be encouraged to read through (write down, if required) each of the questions given in the Slides 9–15
  • • After showing the Slides 9–15, the faculty may go back to each of the slides from 9th slide onwards to have an elaborate discussion/analysis for each of the questions in each slide
  • • This teaching note captures how each of the slides can be analyzed/discussed in the classroom and for sure it’s not an exhaustive way of either discussing or analyzing. This teaching note provides certain cues, based on our classroom discussion, for discussing this Case Slide


Preamble to the Case Slide Analysis

Case Slides are very brief cases prepared based on a PPT mode with very little text followed by relevant questions. Given the fact that the information is very little, enough care should be taken to ensure that the given text is interpreted in as many possible ways a faculty can. The accompanying questions do accomplish this objective in some measure. However, they are never meant to limit the scope of discussion in the classroom. Case Slides epitomize the philosophy of “less is more”.

This case slide, based on ‘5 ways to make startup a rewarding workplace’, is an attempt to sensitize the participants (preferably with reasonable work experience, including in startups) to the importance of making any startup’s workplace highly rewarding for the employees. The discussion on this case slide can be orchestrated by analyzing the questions of each case slide sequentially. The same has been summarized in the discussion dashboard [Exhibit (TN)-I].............

Case Slide Analysis and Discussion

Before starting the discussion on this case slide, the students/participants may be asked to do an analysis to find out the connecting link between all the slides based on certain common parameters The discussion can start with a few questions which can be the anchor point of discussion:

Name some of the 'Great Places to Work For'. What makes these places great?

Some of the companies mentioned by the students/participants included Google, the Tata group companies, Berkshire Hathaway, etc. They suggested that these workplaces were great because of the work and the work culture of these companies.

What/who has set the tone for great work and work culture at these places?

The leadership has set the tone for these companies to be great workplaces. The founder leaders of these companies – Larry Page and Sergei Brin (Founders of Google), Jamsetji Tata (Founder of the Tata Group) and Warren Buffet (CEO of Berkshire Hathaway), laid the foundation of these great workplaces with their passion, vision and commitment for the core values (personally and professionally).

With this background, the students/participants can be led to identify the connecting link between the various ways suggested to make startups rewarding workplaces [Exhibit (TN)-II].



Exhibit (TN)-I: Discussion Dashboard

Exhibit (TN)-II: Analysis to Identify the Connecting Link between the Slides

Exhibit (TN)-III: Stages of Growth of a Startup

Exhibit (TN)-IV: Meaning of Rewarding Workplace

Exhibit (TN)-V: Virtuous Cycle of a Rewarding Workplace

Exhibit (TN)-VI: Relationship between a Rewarding Workplace and Employee Engagement

Exhibit (TN)-VII: The 3Vs of Organizational Purpose

Exhibit (TN)-VIII: Select Vision Statements

Exhibit (TN)-IX: Signs of Being Focused and Passionate

Exhibit (TN)-X: Hiring Employees for a Startup

Exhibit (TN)-XI: Role of Technology in Creating a Rewarding Workplace

Exhibit (TN)-XII: Purchasing Prohibitively Expensive but Relevant Technology

Exhibit (TN)-XIII: Connecting the Dots (Words) between People, Cash and Founder

Exhibit (TN)-XIV: Virtuous Cycle of Cash Flow in a Startup

Exhibit (TN)-XV: Relationship between Funding and Targets

Exhibit (TN)-XVI: Alignment and Strategic Fit among Various Functional Divisions

Exhibit (TN)-XVII: The Skill-Will Matrix

Exhibit (TN)-XVIII: Create your Tradition

Exhibit (TN)-XIX: Blake and Mouton’s Managerial Grid

Exhibit (TN)-XX: Organizations and their Organizational Cultures

Exhibit (TN)-XXI: Hierarchy of National Culture

Exhibit (TN)-XXII: Criteria for Devising Startup Company’s Traditions


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This Case Slide, based on The Economic Times slide show, enables a discussion on how to make a startup workplace a rewarding workplace. With the increasing number of startups over the last few years, which is expected to be more than 4,200 by the end of 2015, Indian startups have been on the prowl scouting for the best talent with illustrious pedigrees. Attracting best talent has not been easy either, for Indian startups. With majority of the talent being millennials, startups have to meet their discerning and demanding aspiration. A near universal aspiration for all those wanting to join startups is - an invigorating workplace apart from all the other usual components – package, profile, etc. How should a startup workplace be made more rewarding? What is the relationship between rewarding work and a rewarding workplace? Why should a startup be concerned with its workplace? Does the Founder/Founder-CEO of a startup have a significant role in orchestrating a rewarding workplace?

Pedagogical Objectives

  • To understand and debate on the need for institutionalizing a rewarding workplace in startups
  • To discuss and debate on the ways to make a startup workplace a 'rewarding' workplace
  • To examine the role of Founder/Founder-CEO in institutionalizing a rewarding workplace

Case Positioning and Setting
This case slide can be used in

  • Executive Development Program in the Organizational Behavior course to understand the ways to create rewarding workplaces, at startups in particular and also appreciate the significance of the same
  • MBA Program in entrepreneurship module

This Case Pack Includes:
- Abstract
- Case Slide
- Teaching Note (**ONLY for Academicians)

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