“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.”

That quote from leadership expert Simon Sinek’s book Leaders Eat Last speaks to the powerful impact that company values and culture have on the trajectory of any organization. 

Data shows that building a company culture that champions employee well-being and growth isn’t just a trend— it’s a strategic necessity. According to a survey from PwC, 81% of companies reported that a strong company culture was a source of competitive advantage.

As a leader at the helm of a fast-growing startup, it’s not enough to focus solely on product development and owning your market. It’s about creating an environment where your team can truly thrive. 

In this article, leaders from the Powderkeg community and wider startup scene share their best advice to cultivate a company culture that encourages the well-being and growth of your team members. 

1. Model Healthy Behaviors as a Leader

“Leaders are the window through which your employees see the organization. Modeling healthy behaviors is one of any leader’s first steps to supporting their team’s wellbeing. By practicing behaviors like setting boundaries, taking adequate time off, and creating breaks within the day, you encourage your team members to do the same.”

Sarah Kolczak, Leadership and Organization Development Specialist at ADVISA

2. Offer Flexible Work Options 

“Implementing flexible work arrangements, such as remote work and flexible hours, promotes work-life balance and supports personal and professional goals. It reduces stress, enhances well-being, and boosts productivity. This policy attracts and retains top talent, creating a positive work culture.”

Emily Finkelstein, Founder and CEO at VentureXpert Advisors 

3. Empower Your People Managers

”Provide your people managers with the tools to be able to identify and begin discussions with employees looking to grow and develop. This includes developing a Career Development Plan and guidelines to go along with the plan to set your employees up for success.”

Abbey Szentes, HR Leader at Trava

4. Offer a Continuing Education Credit

”At Tactive, we offer every employee a $ 1,000 Continuing Education Credit they can use toward any training, membership, course, workshop, or coaching that relates to their professional goals. It’s a great way for our employees to grow their skills based on their own interests, and is an excellent indicator of their growth potential at Tactive, too!”

Robin Lanning, VP Sales and Marketing at Tactive

5. Foster Transparency for Stronger Relationships

”I am always as transparent as possible with my team because I know how important it is for a team’s success to be honest. When you include your team in how the business is doing, you foster stronger relationships with them. This increases trust, which is essential for supporting your employees because they feel more included. 

I think this also helps to support personal and professional goals by showing them how important it is to be transparent, and it helps to create a more honest individual. Honesty goes a long way with moving up in your career because people trust you more, which allows you to grow into more of a leadership role.”

Kristie Tse, Founder, Uncover Counseling

6. Adopt the Whole-Person Approach

”The strategy I find most effective for nurturing a work culture that supports employee well-being and personal/professional growth is the “Whole-Person Approach.” This means recognizing employees not just as workers, but as holistic individuals with diverse needs and aspirations.

To implement this, I encourage “Personal Development Plans” (PDPs) for every team member. These PDPs are collaboratively created with managers and include not just professional milestones but also personal goals, be it learning a new skill, achieving work-life balance, or addressing health and wellness. Regular check-ins on these PDPs ensure they remain relevant and are being actively pursued.

Furthermore, flexible work arrangements, mental health resources, and continuous feedback loops are integral. By genuinely investing in the entirety of an employee’s life, businesses can create a culture of genuine care, resulting in higher morale, productivity, and retention.”

Carlos Trillo, Founder and CEO, Evinex

7. Maintain Regular Communication With Your Team

”Continuously communicate with your team members. You can’t support your employees’ well-being and goals if you don’t know what those are. If you want to create a positive culture for those around you, then have regular conversations with your workers—not just once a year. This will help you stay current on any needs or issues they’re facing.”

Kelsey Bishop, CEO and Founder, Candor

8. Understand and Respect Employee Preferences

”Constantly being directed can be draining. However, taking the time to understand an employee’s preferences can make a significant difference. Simply asking them about their likes can make them feel valued and understood.

For instance, in our team of five coaches, we prioritize understanding their preferences during the hiring process. We ask, “Which type of clients do you prefer to work with?” If a coach expresses a desire to work with highly career-driven women, we ensure they’re paired accordingly.

This approach not only plays to their strengths but also provides them with a sense of autonomy.”

Hayim Pinson, Founder, Muscle and Brawn


Remember, the journey to creating a supportive culture is ongoing. Regularly assess your culture’s health and make adjustments as necessary. When employees feel valued, supported, and empowered, they become the driving force behind your company’s growth and success.

We hope these insights will help you build a work culture that helps your team members thrive!

If you are interested in exploring jobs at fast-growing tech companies in the Powderkeg community, be sure to check out our real-time job board for Tech Jobs in areas beyond Silicon Valley.

You can browse all of Powderkeg’s Best Tech Companies to Work for, follow them for insights, or request an introduction to plug into your next big opportunity.

Read more about creating a company culture that supports employee well-being and growth:

12 Inspiring Company Culture Examples

Core Company Values That Will Inspire Your Team: Examples, Guides, and Why It Matters

How to Create a Healthy Company Culture

The 8 Types of Company Culture You’ll Find in Tech

11 Tips to Build a Company Culture That Encourages Innovation

10 Tips to Build a Remarkable Tech Company Culture