The Top 3 People Programs Every Company Should Have

Guest Post
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Lightspeed’s Cat Surane writes this guest post about the top programs that you can implement at your startup for the highest impact.

Lightspeed’s Startup Hiring Trends Report discovered that new hire onboarding, referral programs, and performance reviews were the most common. These programs are designed to foster career development, build company culture, and promote general employee well-being. They are the key to building and scaling successful teams.After surveying over 300 startups, it’s clear most companies could benefit from a stronger focus on internal programs. However, for companies with limited resources implementing even one new program can take a lot of time, money, and external knowledge. So how should one start?

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  1. New Hire Onboarding

New hire onboarding was the most common program, and rightfully so. A new employee’s first week is critical in getting them excited and up-to-speed with projects, processes, and company culture. For early-stage companies with flat reporting structures, it’s crucial that all employees become self-directed as quickly as possible. Ensuring every new hire’s success can be easily done by creating a repeatable process that focuses on automating general paperwork and IT setup, job expectations and objectives, and internal groups and mentors. A quick online search for “new hire onboarding template” yields a ton of examples. One of my favorites is Trello’s Onboarding Board.

  1. Employee Referrals

Hiring at any stage is a difficult feat and requires every employees’ help. According to Drafted’s Referral Program Benchmark Survey, “referrals are faster to close and are the most cost-effective source of hire.” Developing a strong referral pipeline can save you tens of thousands of dollars in agency fees per hire and months of recruiting time. Referral programs take time to build, but do not have to be cost-prohibitive. Start by highlighting key roles at every all-hands meeting and clearly outlining the process for submitting a referral. Additional information about starting a basic referral program can be found here.

  1. Performance Reviews

Performance reviews are one program that companies tend to avoid for as long as possible. The formal process of 1 on 1s and annual reviews can feel corporate and heavy-handed. Wouldn’t it be easier to handle employee issues as they arise? Unfortunately, no. Regular, scheduled manager/ employee conversations are the only way to ensure alignment on projects, feedback on improvement-areas, and plans for career development. A simple way to start performance conversations is by instituting regular 1 on 1s. These manager-employee conversations should happen weekly or bi-weekly and topics should include recent successes, roadblocks, areas for improvement, and progress toward career goals. This regular feedback can then be used to inform feedback and promotion/ compensation decisions during performance reviews.

Simple, Scalable, RepeatableThere is no perfect time to implement a new program, and as the company grows these initiatives will change, as well. Regardless of which program you choose to implement first, the goal should be to create a simple, scalable, and repeatable process that every employee can follow. You can’t achieve rocket-ship hypergrowth without the right engine.You can learn about the other findings from Lightspeed’s startup hiring report at

About the author:

Cat Surane leads Learning & Development at Lightspeed, an early-stage venture capital firm that has invested in Snap, AppDynamics, MuleSoft, Stitch Fix, and more. Her team works with over 200 startups, helping them design and scale their People Infrastructure ranging from single-person Seeds through multi-thousand employee pre-IPO companies. Cat has supported companies with problems ranging from Recruiting, HR, People Operations, Compensation Strategy, etc. Prior to Lightspeed, Cat was a technical recruiter at Google and led new-hire onboarding for global recruiting teams. In a previous life, she was a member of Santa Clara University’s Softball team.

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