Updated: Mar 19
You’ve heard for a while now how important it is to establish and maintain a great “workplace culture” for your small business, but how are you supposed to do it on a small business budget? Luckily, you don’t have to have millions in the bank or be a tech giant like Netflix to create a workplace where people feel included, empowered and appreciated. However, the culture-building initiatives used throughout 2019 and 2020 in offices all over the world are not translating to our new normal of remote work in 2021.
We all have new challenges to face since we’ve transitioned to new ways of doing pretty much everything. There’s never been a better time to reflect on our company’s mistakes, brainstorm new creative solutions, and make the changes necessary for our employees to thrive throughout 2021 and the years to come.
In this post, we’re providing ideas and insight based on our experiences, so you can build from them and create a new roadmap on and off the job.
Before COVID-19 hit, you were probably kept busy doing your “day job,” working on everything besides creating a thriving company culture for the team. Most business owners didn’t know how to build an enticing company culture before COVID-19, and today, they’re just as much in the dark as they were before the pandemic started. Most business owners are aware they need an attractive company culture in order to land best in class talent and beat the competition, but most end up with a culture that hasn’t been clearly defined, communicated, or planned. This approach won’t work very long if you want to get “industry leader” status and attract the top players.
One of the biggest mistakes we see business owners make regarding implementing a robust company culture, is their failure to realize exactly how much of their culture stems from the CEO position alone. Research tells us that 70% of a company’s culture is dictated solely by the values of the CEO/Owner. This means that if your company has properly assessed and created initiatives to drive a thriving culture, the other 30% of your culture has come to fruition by chance.
While these approaches are organic, they are far from useful since they were not built by design in order to drive better business results or improve employee satisfaction. If you want your company to succeed in the hiring game in 2021, you’ve got to lead a purpose-driven organization. If you’re not purposefully creating your culture with your employees help already, there’s no time like the present to start now.
But where do you start? How do you create a happier, healthier workplace culture that improves morale, retention, performance, and revenue? Let’s look at 3 ways you begin to accomplish this:
1. Take an Individualistic Approach to Benefits, Perks, and Recognition and Rewards
How well do you know your staff? Do you know motivates them to do their best work? Do you know what 1 gift you could give them as a “thank you for a job well done” that would truly make them feel appreciated? If not, it’s time to find out.
In order to up your culture game, you’ve got to study employee base and communicate with them. Ask questions, and lots of them! How are your people dealing with the pressures of COVID-19? If you don’t know, ask! The people you hired and knew pre-COVID-19 are not the same people you see today. Their lives have been turned upside down, just like yours has – and while we’re all living in a state of collective displacement, every one of us has had unique circumstances that transformed us into different people and workers. If it’s your goal to create a culture that inspires your team, creates inclusion, and sparks innovation, consider trying one or more of these ideas:
Get a copy of your employee roster and have individual conversations with every single employee until you finish. Then start over and do it again.
Hold a (virtual) round table meeting and ask what your employees have been going through individually during the pandemic. Their stories may help others in the group who are dealing with something similar. Listen to the stories. Ask them how they’ve been affected personally, and how this situation has affected their families. Communicate that you care about their well-being and here for them and will help when possible.
Task employees to brainstorm and share ways the team can improve communications, workflows, and boring virtual meetings.
Survey your people and ask them straight up which benefits and perks matter the most to them personally. Find ways to implement what you can, either on an individual level or for the entire group.
Establish a “Culture Crew” to evaluate current policies and processes. Open the group to anyone who wants to be a part of it. Ask which policies make sense, which ones are outdated, seem unfair, demoralizing, or just plain dumb and pointless. Give them time to work together to come up with suggestions how to improve them, then have them present their findings and suggestions to the leadership team. Once presented, do away with the ridiculous policies and implement their suggestions when possible. If things can’t change immediately, give them a timeline of when they can expect change, then deliver.
At the end of the day, if you’re employees are not consciously working towards improving the culture, then the CEO, the public’s perception of the company, and “chance,” are defining your culture for you. Considering your culture is the one thing that sets you apart more than anything else from your competitors (in the eyes of job seekers and employees), it’s well worth the investment to do it right.
One of the questions we ask during interviews is, “What is most important to you to receive from your employer?” Then we offer these choices: an Awesome Company Culture, Affordable Benefits, Flexible Work Schedule, Above Average Pay, Amazing Leadership, Career Growth Opportunities. Not surprisingly (to us at least!), our data shows 90% of millennials and Gen Z’ers say that an “Awesome Company Culture” is the #1 most important thing their employer can provide to them during their employment. The Baby Boomer group tends to select Affordable Benefits and Above Average Pay, although we have a feeling if we added “Job Security” as a choice, that would be the frontrunner answer for this group.
Now more than ever, it’s important to communicate to your employees that you too care about your company’s culture and how they perceive it.
The more you can develop initiatives for your people to work to define the values, traditions, beliefs and processes that are unique to your business, the happier crew you’re going to have and the longer they’re going to stick around. This trickles down to your recruiting and affects your online reviews. When your people share positive feedback online about their experiences within your company’s culture, other job seekers and fans of your work read that, and they want to join the team too. When this happens, you don’t have to spend as much as recruitment marketing, training, turnover, or disciplinary issues. So, as you can imagine, when you don’t have to spend nearly as much on these issues and talent acquisition activities, you increase revenue dramatically, especially over time.
2. Make Employees’ Satisfaction Your #1 Goal, Not Your Customers’ Satisfaction.
We’ve all heard the saying, “take care of your employees and you won’t have to work about your business, because when your employees are taken care of, they’ll take care of the business for you!” But how do you go about putting your employees first? It’s not as hard as you might think.
One great way to immediately improve satisfaction and culture as a whole, is to make the effort to acknowledge your employees’ impacts, publicly and privately, on the business. Make it known how much their hard work is appreciated and that you understand the impact their efforts have had on your success. Businesses spend millions of dollars trying to create customer satisfaction, but if they would concentrate on employee satisfaction instead, you’d get to keep a lot of those millions AND see improvements in:
Attracting and Landing Top Talent
Inclusion and Engagement
Individual and Team Performance
Morale and Employee Satisfaction Survey scores
Simply changing your focus to employees first, customers second, brings about so many improvements, it’s hard to believe it really happens this way, but it’s true! If you want to see a bigger impact, do an entire website overhaul and make your homepage focus about your employees and team, not your customers.
Next, change subsequent pages to be about your culture, benefits, and commitment to social and philanthropic causes. Create 1 or 2 pages for your customers to learn about your business and buy products or services, and that’s really all they should need. Your employees will feel appreciated, valued, and they’ll become “Brand Ambassadors” who naturally want to share with the world how much they love working at your organization.
Is your business living up to it's full potential and maximizing your culture initiatives so that you're attracting the best and brightest to your team? If you could stand to improve a thing or two, get in touch with us today! You can book an HR or recruiting consultation here, or you can Subscribe and purchase our Culture Change Initiatives Plan, where we'll dive deep and help your organization identify and implement meaningful changes that will have lasting positive impacts on your people and business for years to come. Book today before our availability is gone!
What are your thoughts on these company culture improvement ideas? Have you implemented any of these suggestions? What were your results? Are you planning to try any of them, or do you have other ideas you can share with us? We’d love to hear from you and have a discussion about it!