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How can corporates adopt a start-up culture to attract talent

Today, companies are no longer directly competing for talent against direct competitors or within their industry. While big corporates can offer competitive salaries and great employee benefits to make for an attractive proposition, a strong force of competition is also coming from start-ups as the workforce is valuing more than just perks and financial rewards. This article examines the characteristics of start-ups that make them attractive and suggests ways for established companies to incorporate these traits to recruit the best talent.

Career Growth

One of the lucrative aspects of working in start-ups is the potential for career advancement. Our recent global survey, ‘Act Like a Start Up and Recruit the Best Talent’ shows that an increasing number of company employees (28%) want to work with autonomy, which is common in start-ups.

Usually, large companies tend to have designated teams for each function and within that function, everyone specialises in a particular field - which might provide relatively fewer opportunities to gain a variety of experiences. On the other hand, start-ups don’t have large teams, so their employees must complete any necessary task, regardless of job title. From performing a human resource function one day to assisting business development the next, start-ups teach employees the ins and outs of a company, increasing their value as a professional. This environment in which everyone can demonstrate their abilities in multiple fields provides excellent growth opportunities for building a career.

How to create growth opportunities like start-ups:
  • Provide more discretion and autonomy in job duties
  • Create opportunities for different departments to collaborate and learn about each other's work



Start-ups and entrepreneurs embody the core principles of innovation to drive commercial outcomes. They embrace risk taking and respond to challenges and opportunities with ease because of their agility. They see failure as a learning experience to improve a product or business and are constantly adapting their business models, designs, product or service to deliver better customer value. In fact, 39% of the professionals say it’s the business model of start-ups that allows them to be innovative.

How to drive innovation like start-ups:
  • Encourage experimentation and innovation as part of KPIs
  • Build a culture of continuous learning
  • Organize small teams with autonomy to speed up innovation


Distinct Corporate Culture

Since start-ups are often run by a small team working closely together, their ‘culture’ is typically a reflection of the founding team’s passions and personalities. In most situations, each individual working in a start-up contributes to the overall culture. Start-up culture is aimed at breaking down the barriers and hurdles of growth that more established corporations might have and is known for being creative, laid back and passion driven.

Four factors that make up a typical start-up culture
  • Passion defines the purpose of a business and acts as a great motivator for the team
  • Personality makes a start-up unique and cannot be found anywhere else
  • Agility enables knowledge and information to flow at a pace that greatly improves the business
  • Authenticity allows freedom and respect of everyone’s own identity

In recent years, employees have become increasingly aware of their career purpose, what they value in a company and also the visible differences between established companies and start-ups. It is recommended that companies should be quick to incorporate the best aspects of start-up culture in order to attract the best talent.

For a more comprehensive overview on how your organisation can take cues from start-ups, read our e-guide ‘Act like a start-up and recruit the best talent.’ 

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