Building a Heartbeat: Human Resources for the Social Startup

In the passionate world of social entrepreneurship, the drive to create positive change often overshadows the nitty-gritty of building a sustainable organisation. But let’s face it; even the most impactful venture needs a strong foundation, and that foundation starts with your people. Managing human resources (HR) effectively in the early days of your social startup is crucial for attracting, retaining, and motivating the talent that will fuel your mission.

Here are some key strategies to remember:

  1. Mission Alignment is King

Social entrepreneurs are drawn to their cause by a deep personal connection. Translate that passion into your HR practices. Clearly articulate your mission and values, and actively seek individuals who resonate with them. This authenticity attracts talent who are intrinsically motivated, reducing the need for purely financial incentives.

  1. Embrace Resourcefulness

Budgetary constraints are a reality for most startups. Get creative with your HR offerings. Consider offering flexible work arrangements, skill-building workshops, or opportunities for employees to contribute directly to the social impact. Remember, purpose and learning can be powerful motivators in the absence of hefty salaries for employees who are seeking career growth.

  1. Wear Multiple Hats (But Not for Long)

In the early days, you might be the entire HR department. While wearing multiple hats fosters agility, it’s not sustainable. As your team grows, prioritise establishing core HR functions like recruitment and human resources management. Consider outsourcing non-core tasks or partnering with HR consultancies specialising in social enterprises.

  1. Cultivate a Collaborative Culture

Open communication and shared decision-making are essential for building trust and engagement. Encourage feedback, celebrate successes openly, and acknowledge challenges transparently. Remember, your team is invested in the mission too, and their voices matter.

  1. Be a Learning Organisation

The social sector is constantly evolving. Invest in your team’s professional development through workshops, conferences, or peer-to-peer learning opportunities. This not only enhances their skills but also demonstrates your commitment to their growth.

Tap into the power of volunteers! Volunteers can provide valuable support and diverse perspectives without adding to your payroll. Implement a robust volunteer management system to ensure a rewarding experience for all.

Strong HR practices are not just about compliance; they are about building a vibrant community around your mission. By investing in your people from the start, you create a social startup with a beating heart, one that attracts, retains, and empowers the talent to make a lasting impact.

Do you have any other tips for managing HR in a social startup? Share them in the comments below!


About the Author

Minakshi Kotwani, the Founder of Growing People, brings her expertise in human resources. She serves as a Service Partner for the Social Innovation Lab, providing human resource services through the Shared Service Centre for Social Enterprises.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top