Every business should strive to create a strong company culture, but this is especially important for small businesses. Obviously, small businesses have fewer employees than large corporations, so they have to rely on each employee to pull their own weight and contribute to the company more so than large businesses do. With a strong company culture, small business owners can ensure everyone in the company is happy, motivated and working together towards the same goal. Here’s how you can build a strong company culture in your small business:
When employees are empowered to make decisions on their own, think of new ideas and then put them into action, they take more pride in their work and perform at higher levels. Take a look at Nordstrom, a company that only has one rule for their employees: use your best judgment. Nordstrom empowers their employees to do whatever it takes to please the customer, as long as they use their best judgment to decide on a plan of action.
Make it clear your employees should feel a sense of ownership over the business and their work. If you’re not around and a customer has a question, employees should feel comfortable using their best judgment to answer the question and provide customers with what they need. When employees come to you with customer issues or complaints, don’t just give them the answer. Ask them how they think they should handle the situation, and use it as an opportunity to empower them to take matters into their own hands.
Recognize work-life balance
In a small business, it can sometimes feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. But, as a small business owner, you must recognize and enforce work-life balance for your employees, otherwise they will eventually become disgruntled and resentful towards the business. Take note of when everyone is coming in and leaving for the day. Staying afterhours sometimes is expected, but if it becomes an everyday thing for some workers, send them home. Employees will feel respected and appreciated when you allow them to have a life outside of work.
Get out of the office
It’s much easier (and less expensive) to plan teambuilding activities for smaller businesses, so take advantage of this and set up an afternoon out of the office. Take the team to a local sports game, restaurant or plan a day of volunteering for a local charity. You know your team best, so choose something that everyone will enjoy. This helps build a stronger relationship between everyone on the team, and creates a more fun, relaxed atmosphere in the office. Plus, taking a break from being in the office will help your employees focus and be more productive once they get back.
Remember the details
Small businesses do not have the resources to turn their office space into the Google headquarters. You won’t have space—or money—to install slides, napping pods and on-site massages. But, you can still give employees little perks that can help create an upbeat and optimistic company culture. For example, buy a Keurig coffee machine and a variety of single-serve coffee pods so everyone in the office can find one they love. Or, launch a “bring your dog to work day” where employees can bring in their pups (as long as no one is allergic). These small perks can go a long way in keeping employees happy and creating a strong company culture.
Have open conversations
Every small business should be as transparent as possible with their employees to create a culture of trust and honesty. But, it’s important to make sure you are engaging with employees in two-way communication. Don’t just announce big changes to procedures, the staff or the business. Inform you employees about what’s going on and then ask for feedback. Employees in a small business—even you, the business owner—should always be willing to give and receive feedback. Why? Without it, it’s hard for a small business to improve and grow. So, adopt a culture of transparent, two-way communication in order to keep employees informed and happy and help your business grow.
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