I am currently, and was when I wrote this post, a startup employee, and not a founder. Because of this, my advice here comes more from the perspective of the employee, but I hope that perspective makes it even more powerful to the founders who read it. In short: if you want to retain good employees, don't expect them to push it like you do.


Running a small business or startup can be taxing - both mentally and physically - especially when long hours and tight deadlines are the norm.

At different stages of a company's life, different levels of commitment are required, but no matter what you're working on, it's not productive to keep grinding away month after month without giving yourself a break. Similarly, if you have employees then you can't expect them to selflessly spend their lives working long hours and holidays just to help you fulfill your dream. You can push people to a certain point, but learning how to do so in a productive and worthwhile way is one of the best things you can learn if you want to retain your best employees.

Don't push people without a purpose

It's tempting as an entrepreneur to always want more from your employees, but just because you feel a sense of urgency in managing your business doesn't mean every one of your employees will feel the same. One of the most frustrating things for employees is being pushed to work harder, longer hours without a clear purpose that ties directly into their performance.

More work is not a good solution to poor planning

If one department in your company is behind on a deadline, figure out how you can work with them to either adjust expectations, change their requirements, or estimate better next time. Just because you or someone in your organization planned poorly does not mean it's a good idea to push everyone else to the breaking point.

Listen to employees' frustrations

Even more important than avoiding situations that stress your employees is listening to them when they are feeling pressure. If you're cultivating the right atmosphere at the office, don't be surprised when someone shows up to tell you that they can't keep up the pace for another 60 hour week.

Trust your people

Finally, as an entrepreneur you have to be able to trust your employees. If you don't, you need to ask yourself why you hired them or find a way to replace them. When you trust your employees, you'll know that when they insist they're working too much, they really are. How do you keep your employees from burning out? Do you let your boss know when the stress is getting to be too much? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo by Valeria C★Preisler on flickr.com. This post was first published in November, 2014 and is being republished as part of my 2017 daily writing goal.