Employees Share The 9 Worst HR Policies Adopted At Indian Startups

Working at a startup can be a life changing experience. Being a part of a business as it’s being built and grown can be a satisfying career goal. Most young people also choose to work at startups over a conventional company because of their friendly work culture and employee friendly policies. However, when startups too start adopting and enforcing similar policies and rules as conventional companies, employees can feel very deflated.

An online community was asked which HR practices and policies they found to be the worst, and here were the replies. 

1. “Hiring people only on the basis of skills and not passion.”

every corporate employee ever

Most HRs are given to recruiting and selecting candidates blindly on the basis of the skills mentioned in the resume. Also, that makes their job easier. However working at a startup requires a certain level of passion for the product and your job function to go above and beyond your job requirements. “Someone who is skilled but doesn’t love what he is doing. It’s difficult to deal with such type of colleagues. HR should hire people who are passionate enough to want to use their skills to build a great product!”, says David Singson. 


2. “Short-changing interns.”


Companies, and especially startups, are known to hire interns who do a large amount of manual or ‘grunt work’. “These interns are promised performance based incentives, where companies sort of screw kids in name of internship and freshers in name of training period, and figure out a way to not pay them in full. It’s very rampant now. The employers want free work. The poor desperate guys get fooled big time.”, says an employee.


3. “Keeping performance based pay very high for employees.”


Most employees would prefer to receive most of their salary as a fixed amount, rather than as a variable component of their CTC, depending on their performance. However a lot of startups have a 60-80% Fixed : 40-20% variable component. This variable component can get gray when the performance evaluation is largely subjective and the employee has little or no say in altering how it’s arrived at. “Also, not honoring esop commitments is another malpractice many startups are given to.”, says Ram Mannepalli, brand manager at a startup.

4. “Hiring relatives and people close to the founders, and not based on skills”

work relationships

Nepotism is less of an HR policy and more of an unethical practice followed by many founders and HR managers. Giving preference to hire relatives or friends in spite of the availability of better suited candidates can be detrimental to the growth of the company, as can be unfair to deserving candidates. “No, don’t hire your illiterate wife as the HR manager just so you both can come to work together!”, laughs an employee working at a SaaS startup.


5. “Giving very low salary to employees despite being profitable.”


Sharing very little of the company’s revenues can be a demotivating factor for employees who feel that they deserve a larger chunk of the profits. Founders should keep in a mind a healthy balance of splitting the profits between employees and themselves.


6. “Setting time for coffee and loo breaks.”

Monitoring loo breaks

This practice of scheduling and monitoring employee breaks isn’t only reminiscent of schools and old companies, but also reeks of distrust on the part of the employer. Most employees prefer to have little or no control over their activity in the office, expecting their employers to trust them to have company’s best interest in their minds.


7. “Unfavourable leave policy”

“I’m going on a 3 day earned leave after a year!”

A number of companies adopt a regressive leave policy wherein an employee earns say, 2 to 3 leaves per month, not getting a bulk of their casual leaves to take in one go. If the employee takes a leave not earned yet, the leave will amount to a leave of absence and lead to deduction in pay.   “1. 0.5 sick and 0.5 day casual leaves per month in a year. If you are sick for a day in January, your half pay gets cut. If you take a leave on Friday and Monday, your casual leave will be counted for 4 days. (sat & sun too!) + Remember point 1. You strictly cannot interchange your sick & casual leaves or use accumulated ones by clubbing them at the end of the year.” says, Jagan Ganti.


8. “Working on the weekends”


While elsewhere in the world, HRs are looking at arriving an optimal productivity-to-number of working hours ratio, some startups still follow a working weekend model. More often than not, the rule is driven less by a real business need, but more by a preset HR policy. Working weekends can have adverse effects on employee morale.


9. “Becoming too corporate”


One of the perks of working in a startup is that employees get to be more of doers than corporate slaves throwing around jargon or acting like bureaucratic officers. However, when “corporatization” in a startup starts to set in, by way of managerial jargon, too many meetings, or being very process-intensive, employees start to feel alienated from their once hustle friendly workplace. “Why does my manager insist on a detailed ROI plan in Excel on things as little as a Facebook promotion for Rs. 100? I’d rather just not do the promotion, than do that.”, says the digital marketing manager at a travel startup.