Building a Strong Company Culture
Creating a positive work culture -- even with just a few employees -- can be a key component to your company's success.
In fact, a recent Deloitte study found a link between having a clearly defined sense of purpose and strong financial performance: Nine out of 10 professionals who said their company had the former also said it had a history of the latter.
If you think your small business needs a stronger sense of purpose, there's good news: Fostering a positive culture at work doesn't have to be expensive or time-consuming.
Here are four tips for building a work environment that benefits both your employees and your bottom line.
1. Be a role model. As the boss, your employees constantly pick up on the messages you send through your behavior. "They'll also react to your attitude," says Gordon Veniard, a management consultant and author of the e-book About Teams: Twenty Key Questions and Eighty-One Powerful Tips.
So you want to lead by example. For instance, say it's lunchtime, and some of your employees are on break while the rest are fielding phone calls. You walk by an empty desk, holding a sandwich you just purchased. As you pass by, the phone at the unattended desk rings. Do you answer it?
If you don't, Veniard asserts, you're sending a message to your employees that helping customers is less important than eating lunch. If you do answer the phone, employees will likely note your effort to take care of business.
2. Hire with care. It’s relatively easy to look for employees whose abilities are similar to your own. But if you hire too many people who fall into this category, "you'll simply repeat your skills and leave the areas you aren't great at under-covered," Veniard warns.
To develop a well-rounded team, consider what your company needs before seeking a new employee. For example, if you tend to be a visionary leader and focus on the big picture, you may want to hire a detail-oriented person to make sure day-to-day activities are well-organized.
3. Encourage interaction. "We've fostered a positive work culture in numerous ways, such as adopting a casual dress code and having annual company field trips," says David Raske, director of marketing and business development at VideoSurveillance.com.
The company also holds events for employees like go-cart racing and barbecues. "With these measures, we have seen a clear improvement in work environment and reduced turnover," he adds.
4. Keep the lines of communication open. At VideoSurveillance.com, which operates as a small business, employees stay connected through Yammer, an enterprise social network that serves as the company's main internal communication tool. "Yammer.com not only allows us to communicate with other departments on various business projects, but it also allows employees to share jokes and personal stories," Raske explains.
The company even has separate groups for pet owners, foodies, and sports fans. "This is a great way for employees to learn about each other and make the work environment more fun," he says.
Rachel Hartman is a writer who frequently covers topics related to small businesses. Her work has appeared in The Costco Connection, Wells Fargo Conversations, Pizza Today, Bankrate.com, InsuranceQuotes.com, CreditCardGuide.com, and many other outlets.