Job Enrichment! That’s what makes people move from big firms to startups

Frederick Herzberg

Frederick Herzberg

Why skilled employees are leaving their jammy jobs to join or create startups? The answer may lie in job enrichment. It is a concept developed by the American psychologist Frederick Herzberg in the 1950s, who argues that jobs should be designed in such a manner that they give employees a range of tasks and challenges of varying difficulties. Most of the employees who quit their jobs admit that they were looking formore challenging jobs, as their existing jobs often propose pre-defined roles and they get straitjacketed in those roles.

This urge of doing something challenging is most dominantamong mid-level professionals. As a consequence there is a growing need of establishments that can fulfil these requirements. Here come the startups into the picture, offering challenging assignments, stakes and equity in startups, milestone-linked compensation packages, sense of ownership etc. Aside from this, while the take-home amount may be less, dramatically high financial returns are also possible thanks to steep valuations.

Nowadays funding a startup has become easier, as many big corporate houses are showing keen interest in investing in them. Almost every day one startup is acquired by one or another firm: this increases the probability of success and makes startups more tempting propositions for mid-level professionals.

An Economic Times feature quotes such a mid-level professional Nitin Dubey who was working for ITC’s Aashirvaad atta brand. ‘At ITC, I was heading one of the manufacturing units at 26, and thought I had done fairly well for myself. But, I feel humbled and proud when I seeteenagers and really young people getting funding for their ideas and making it big.’ Dubey moved to a startup into a more challenging role.

Working in a start-up gives an opportunity to play big roles with high degree of responsibility and accountability, thus one can impact the functioning which is quite rare in big organisations. It also allows employees to take on more diversified roles: you might be an engineer and worked with machines throughout your life but it gives you a chance to deal with humans also, i.e. recruiting. Moreover, the best thing about a startup is the kind of ownership you get. The sense of accomplishment that you get by creating something relevant and meaningful out of nothing is unmatchable.

However, the startup euphoria does not stay forever, as challenges and risks are always there. Moreover, they are bound to move fast in order to track opportunity and it might be difficult for a big firm’s mid-level executive to cope up with the dynamic environment. And, one thing which big company executives should keep in mind while quitting their jobs is that the impact of their decisions will have enormous and possibly fatal effects on a small business. Larger companies rarely face life-or-death opportunities or threats. Small companies can face them daily with the high-profile entries and exits.

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