“So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

So much has happened over the past couple years that has companies confused, fearful and reactive. From the Great Resignation to back-to-office campaigns, companies are desperate to get employees excited about the organization and engaged with their peers.

Recently I’ve seen everything from offering Sonos speakers to providing daily free lunch to increasing salaries by 30% before an employee has even started try and solve these problems. Now I like free stuff, fun stuff and money as much as the next person, but I am certain that these perks themselves are just not enough to get people to care. Employees need to feel cared about, not bribed, to care about the company in return.

Fortunately for startups like Ama La Vida and Here Here Market, the online marketplace (like Etsy) for chefs and culinary creators, throwing money at the issue was never an option. We just don’t have the budgets that the big players have to offer fancy things and fat salaries. And while that feels like a major disadvantage, in some ways I feel it may be a blessing in disguise.

Frankly it’s easier to give everyone cool new swag than it is to work out each team member’s flexible work schedule. It’s easier to order lunch for the group than it is to pick up the slack when someone is struggling. It’s easier to host a happy hour than it is to provide support for managers leading remote teams for the first time. It’s easier to ask, “Do you like the ice cream?” than it is to ask, “How are you honestly doing?”

But what matters to people more?

Perks and high compensation are great. Keep ’em coming if you can. But they aren’t a replacement for humanity.

Disha Gulati, Here Here Market’s CEO and co-founder, is one of the most genuine and authentic founders and leaders I know. She truly cares about her team and ensures that she’s regularly checking in with them and supporting them as people, and in turn they support her and her businesses vision. They choose to work for her early-stage startup when they could be someplace with snazzier perks and a better view because they feel valued and appreciated in the way the company behaves … not just in what it gives.

I had the incredible honor of sitting down with Disha to learn more about her approach to motivating her team and to share some key learnings for leaders at any type of company. Click here to listen in on the full conversation.

When you can’t throw money at employees, you tend to do the hard work of tailoring your workplace to them and supporting them as whole human beings. Turns out that might be much more valuable.

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nicole wood

Nicole Wood

Nicole Wood is the CEO and co-founder of Ama La Vida, an innovative life, career and leadership coaching company. She is passionate about helping people to find meaningful and lucrative work and to not have to wait until 6pm to love their lives. Read more about Nicole here.