By Rieva Lesonsky
Do you think your business is too small to have a “company culture”? Think again—creating a company culture isn’t just for big corporations. You can create a culture that benefits your employees, customers and small business. As MetLife notes in Culture Happens: How to Ensure It’s What You Want, “When you think about great company culture, you may think of giants such as Google, Starbucks or Southwest Airlines. These industry heavyweights are regularly included on lists of best places to work, lauded for their happy workers and healthy work environments. But many small business owners are also succeeding at making the workplace enjoyable, building cultures that will help them grow well into the future.
In fact, culture and employee engagement have become increasingly relevant to businesses of all sizes as their leaders recognize the direct impact on company performance. Companies with highly engaged employees have an easier time finding new hires, better customer service, less turnover and are more profitable in the long run, according to a recent study published by Deloitte University Press. The same study revealed that 87 percent of organizations cited culture as one of their main challenges, and 50 percent called the topic ‘very important.’”
As you can see, the question isn’t whether or not your business has a company culture—it’s what kind of culture you want yours to be. If you don’t build a company culture, one will arise nonetheless, and that culture could well be haphazard and have no relationship to your mission, vision or plan of where your company is headed. Smart entrepreneurs take a leadership role in shaping their company cultures to achieve the goals they want, such as building their brands, achieving their missions and helping to retain valuable employees.
How can you craft the right company culture? Follow these three key steps:
1. Identify the values and behaviors that matter to your business. Start by figuring out what core values you want to instill in your employees and what behaviors reflect those values. For example, a home healthcare business with a core value of caring will lead to a culture where employees truly take time to listen to customers and treat their customers as they would want their own family members to be treated. For the company’s owner, that core value of caring might translate into providing employees with paid time off, flexible schedules and employee benefits such as dental care, vision care and life insurance. MetLife Benefit Trends
2. Encourage and nurture these core values in your employees. This starts with hiring. Develop interview questions that probe for the core values you’re seeking and look for job candidates who share those values. With your existing employees, reward and celebrate behavior that reflects your company’s core values. Employee recognition programs, reviews and evaluations should include assessments of how well employees’ actions embody your company’s values and suggestions for improvement if needed. By doing this, you show your team that values and culture matter to your business.
3. Enhance and maintain your corporate culture. The stories you tell about your business, the brand you present to the public, and the way you interact with your employees all work to reinforce your company’s culture. Welcoming new employees on board with a companywide lunch or celebrating employee milestones such as a work anniversary, for example, reflect a culture of caring about your team as people—not just as employees. “Walk the walk” and enhance this culture of caring by offering supplemental benefits such as dental or vision insurance, disability insurance, or life insurance to help make employees’ lives easier.
By building a company culture that reflects your company’s core values, and taking care of your team with the employee benefits they value, you’ll be better able to retain quality employees—and grow your business.