How to attract young employees to a new company?

Solid employment in a corporation or a new company with developmental potential? Do start-ups have a chance of winning with corporations in the race for the best employees?

Ewa was employed by one of the largest media companies in Poland – she had good earnings and company benefits. She knew what was expected of her. Ewa worked from 9 to 5 (at least theoretically), and every day arrived punctually at a modern office building located in the business district of Warsaw. However, after some time she became tired of the inflexibility of her position and this predictability began to wear her down…

– The long decision process was the worst. Many things were being done unnecessarily because ultimately projects were not accepted for implementation. On top of that, an hour of being stuck in traffic in the morning and an hour after finishing work also played a role – recounts Ewa. She also missed inspiring people at the corporation she worked for. In order to feel satisfaction, she preferred to build something from scratch and have a real impact on the projects she took part in. Ewa decided to change jobs.

Her earnings were not the reason for the change in her career path, although they continue to be crucial for more than half of the Polish population according to the report “Barometr Pracownika 2015 Edenred-IPSOS”. What she lacked was motivation. People just like Ewa – with experience in project management in corporations, but who are already tired with working within large organisational structures – are very often successful in start-up companies. How do you attract them?


1. Lose the “carrot and stick” approach

Dan Pink in his well-known book “Drive” described an experiment performed on children who like to draw. The children were divided into two groups: the first group was given paper and crayons for them to start drawing. The second group also received the drawing materials, but this group was also promised a reward for the completion of the job. The children started drawing. The children in the first group – as they usually did, as this was their passion. In the second group, children worked quickly, more carelessly than usual, as they were keen to receive their reward… This experiment was repeated some time later. The children from the second group were asking about the type of reward they were to receive.

Rewards for “doing something” destroy creativity. External motivators can significantly reduce the interest one has in the task itself and their positive effect is limited only to the first few hours! Concentration on the prize narrows the field of vision, just like in the case of the drawing children. Although science is quite clear on the matter of effective motivation, companies continue to employ the traditional and ineffective “carrot and stick” approach. Instead, they should focus on stimulating our internal motivation.

2. Ensure independence

In the case of highly repetitive work, it is money which tends to motivate employees; however, in regard to work which requires one’s own initiative – and this is usually work performed in start-up companies – good money is only the first condition which must be met.

– Once you cross the threshold which provides you with a feeling of financial security, you begin to pay a lot of attention to the ability to fulfil your passions, to the atmosphere at work and the soundness of the company’s philosophy. Almost all Polish and foreign studies show that the generation of today’s 20- and 30-year olds wants to have a real impact on the company’s development, have considerable independence in the projects they run and maintain the correct work-life balance – explains Łukasz Krasnopolski, CEO of To Reforge, a company which specialises in the construction of new business projects, which employs as many as 80 people, including Ewa who we mentioned above.

3. Show that the work makes sense

The best employees which are headhunted by corporations and start-up ventures expect to see sense in their work. They want to be certain that the task they perform is important from the perspective of the entire company’s objectives. They want to know the wider context of their activities and have the freedom to implement them. These are features which convince them to start working for small companies which are only in their developmental stages. Honesty is also of key importance. There is no point trying to convince employees that a task is compelling when in actual fact it is boring. Nonetheless, it is worthwhile to emphasize at this point, as mentioned by Pink is his book, that this task can be performed “in our own fashion”.

4. Give them a chance to prove themselves

Everyone knows the “20 percent rule” employed by Google. A certain Australian company, which introduced the FedEx Day, came up with a similar idea. Within 24 hours – this is how much time the American giant has to deliver a parcel – the employees must deliver their authorial project, by working on it alone or in a group. Similar programmes are being introduced by some Polish companies.

– At To Reforge, each of our employees has an opportunity to develop their own business project with our assistance. All they need to do is find allies to their idea within the company – explains Krasnopolski. Marketing specialists, IT experts and business analysts get together in teams which then work on their ideas.


5. Let them take risks

– For those choosing corporations, stabilisation will be of key importance. We, as the representatives of start-up companies, offer the feeling of agency, the opportunity to have a real impact on projects, and the lack of necessity to “take work home” – explains Krasnopolski. This doesn’t mean that money is of no importance to individuals choosing to work in newly developed business ventures. – Money has always been and will continue to be one of the main motivating factors; however, money on its own is not sufficient – says Krasnopolski. Start-up companies have the advantage that they offer something which is not present in corporations – continuous risk-taking, testing of new solutions and rapid decision making. These elements attract the best employees.



Article appeared on the website:, 10-08-2016

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