Start-up? Let’s call it Starting Upwards!

Startups are often characterized by their innovation, agility, and fast-paced environments. They are in the building blocks of what we see as a fully established company. We witness them being built, grow, get funded and expand further into a bigger team, technological advancements, infrastructure, more products and services and more geographical locations. We need to consider, in particular, the internal factors that contribute to the acceleration of this gradient.

After two years of unmitigated growth powered by the rocket fuel of FOMO-driven funding, India’s startups are facing a reckoning. Of all the economies in the world, the Indian economy is expected to be the fastest-growing one – and startups are expected to contribute a whopping 5% to the GDP of our country in the next 5 years.

It’s true that GROWTH ALWAYS HAPPENS ON STEPPING OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE. Let’s emphasize the importance of emergency response and wellness that every start-up must have in place. Larger corporations typically associate Emergency Response policies, but startups equally need them.

Let’s explore why startups need emergency response policies and how they can benefit from them.

1. Risk is Inherent in Startups

Startups operate in a dynamic and unpredictable landscape, often facing financial, operational, and market-related risks. Consequently, being prepared for unforeseen events is essential. Emergency response policies help startups identify, assess, and mitigate these risks.

2. Employee Safety Matters

The well-being of employees is a top priority for any organization. In startups, where teams are smaller and every individual plays a crucial role, ensuring their safety is even more critical. Emergency response policies outline procedures to protect employees during crises.

3. Protecting Assets and Intellectual Property

Startups frequently possess valuable assets, including intellectual property, data, and equipment. Moreover, emergency response policies include strategies to safeguard these assets in the event of theft, natural disasters, or other emergencies.

4. Maintaining Business Continuity

For startups, maintaining business continuity is imperative. Any disruption, be it due to a fire, data breach, or supply chain interruption, can have devastating consequences. Emergency response policies provide guidelines for how to continue operations under adverse circumstances.

5. Legal and Regulatory Compliance

Startups, like established companies, must adhere to legal and regulatory requirements. Having emergency response policies in place demonstrates a commitment to compliance and can help avoid legal issues in the event of an incident.

6. Reputation Management

Startups often rely on their reputation and trustworthiness to attract customers, investors, and talent. A well-handled emergency situation can enhance the company’s reputation, while a poorly managed one can tarnish it. Having policies in place ensures a structured and effective response.

7. Investor and Stakeholder Confidence

Investors and stakeholders look for evidence of responsible management when evaluating startups. Demonstrating preparedness through emergency response policies can inspire confidence and encourage financial support.

8. Scalability and Growth

As startups aspire to grow rapidly, expanding teams, operations, and geographical reach becomes a priority. Consequently, startups can scale emergency response policies to maintain preparedness as they evolve and grow.

Let’s take the pandemic as an example as to how startups in India responded to the emergency with respect to it’s workforce:

In 2020, as the first wave of the pandemic hit, startups primarily introduced measures to facilitate a seamless shift to remote work and provided psychological assistance. Nevertheless, the heightened severity of the second wave, marked by an increased number of fatalities, has prompted a series of actions this April. These initiatives encompass the establishment of Covid-19 emergency and insurance helplines, the provision of medical resources, and a reduction in work intensity to prevent burnout.

Zomato recently implemented a policy to provide 100% of the employee’s income for two years to the family. Ed tech startup Unacademy has set up a Covid fund of $1 million to provide support and free vaccination for employees and educators.

When it comes to employee wellness in startups, one of the key aspects that has gained attention is safety at work. Sexual harassment policies go beyond mere legal compliance; furthermore, they represent a moral imperative. In India, there have been legal revisions to prioritize the safety of women in workplaces.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act of 2013 has significantly impacted the Indian business landscape. According to this legislation, any organization employing more than ten individuals is mandated to establish an Internal Complaints Committee. Additionally, the policy must explicitly outline procedures to follow in such instances.

An example of employee wellness considering the physical, mental and emotional wellness is that of Swiggy.

Swiggy, a food delivery platform, has launched ‘Built Around You,’ a curated wellness programme for its employees. The project is centered around the four pillars of physical, emotional/mental, financial, and legal wellness, and is aimed at boosting the overall wellness of the entire Swiggy clan and their loved ones. The advantages include unlimited tele/video interview appointments with complimentary professionals, as well as customized advanced and on-location wellness programmes for employees and their families. This includes wellness screenings, health workshops/online courses, and one-on-one consultations on topics such as weight loss, addiction and diabetes management, maternity care, and marital counseling, among others.

In the unpredictable world of startups, preparedness is a strategic advantage. Emergency response policies are not a luxury; they are a necessity for safeguarding employees, protecting assets, maintaining continuity, and instilling confidence in investors and stakeholders. By establishing these policies early on, startups can build a resilient foundation that helps them weather the storms and thrive in the face of adversity. In essence, emergency response policies are not just about reacting to crises; they are about proactively safeguarding the future of the startup.

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