"What makes a company great?" asks Julia Hartz, a co-founder of Eventbrite. "People, products, or technology?" She doesn't wait for an answer. "It's the people."
Eventbrite is an example of a startup that scaled into a mid-size company without losing employee happiness or internal culture. The company's attrition rate is 5% compared with a regional average of 17%; in the first half of 2012 - with 200 workers - Eventbrite is sitting at a 2% undesirable attrition rate.
How does a startup foster this kind of morale and culture? "The culture tenets and the brand tenets [of a startup] are inherently linked," Julia explained at the Grow 2012 Conference. If every employee of a company believes he or she is the company, that company will never lose its soul; its startup culture becomes scalable.
One way to cultivate this, Julia says, is to allow employees of any type to share their knowledge about stuff - let people venture outside of their roles. Another way to unite staff outside of work through passions and hobbies, such as with afterhours yoga sessions.
But don't sacrifice your company's performance for internal happiness, she warns. Employee happiness does not directly create company performance. The two can co-exist but they don't by default. The key is to align everyone's goals.
At around 150 employees, it's believed that companies lose intimacy, efficiency, and interdependency. Eventbrite has managed to defy this. And performance is also there for the growing company: it's on pace to process $600 million in gross ticket sales this year.
Have a genuine, innovative, dedicated, empowering, social, accessible, and delightful team culture—and then clarify company objectives to staff—and you have nirvana: happy employees and a top-performing organization.