Having a great corporate culture can be a differentiator for small businesses when it comes to attracting and retaining spectacular employees. But awesome environments don’t just happen — nor can they be forced. So how do you build one that entices job seekers and keeps employees engaged? Here are some tips for creating a corporate culture that brings out the best in your small business team.
Define your company
A strong corporate culture starts with defining your brand. A small business that knows what it wants to be has an easier time finding employees who can support that mission. Identify your core values, and include those ideals in everything you do. Whether you’re out to deliver exceptional customer service or shake up your industry through innovation, everyone on your team should know the company’s top priorities. Develop a mantra – a succinct reminder of your intentions – as a point of reference and pride (as in Apple’s “Think Different”). And draw your staff into your vision even further by sharing with them your dreams for the company’s future.
Teams thrive when each member feels valued and heard. Give your small business employees plenty of opportunities to voice opinions and engage in problem solving. Likewise, provide thoughtful, timely feedback to create a can-do, results-oriented environment. And since transparency can limit gossip and foster trust, keep everyone as up-to-date on issues as possible.
Lead by example
Simply put, practice what you preach. Who is going to believe you truly prize an all-hands-on-deck mentality if you’re nowhere to be found during crunch time? Leaders set the tone for corporate culture, so be certain you’re sending the right message.
Make attitude as important to your corporate culture as aptitude when hiring at your small business. The people on your limited-size staff depend heavily on one another, so a poor match could quickly and critically impact the entire culture. Consider adopting a hiring process in which current team members meet with potential hires and offer their input before you make a final decision.
Make fun and appreciation a habit
Building a small business often requires putting in substantial hours, working outside of one’s comfort zone, and rising up to tackle unexpected challenges. Consistently acknowledging your team’s contributions through words and actions demonstrates your awareness of all they do. A thank-you note to someone who goes above and beyond or a surprise staff luncheon after meeting an important goal builds positive feelings. Likewise, encourage people to interact with one another in enjoyable ways, such as group outings, holiday or birthday celebrations, and fun contests. With a small staff, you have the advantage of being able to target your efforts — they’ll be happy to let you know if a ping-pong table or a cappuccino station is a worthy workplace addition. While no two corporate cultures will be exactly the same, the best ones share a common objective – being a place where employees genuinely want to work.