By JonJon Yeung

Innovative companies. Forward-thinking. Clever. How would you like people to see your business in 2014? Rather than starting out the outside – your company’s appearance as it were – start on the inside, with your staff. Have you heard that saying, “Everyone is marketing”? It’s true. The atmosphere you create for the people on your team will reflect the concepts that people will associate with your company.

So, how can you do that? Get your company on the same page as your brand.

1. Recruiting Talent
You should be obsessed with finding new talent as well as developing and retaining talent. If you don’t have one yet, create a new internship program or recruit from universities. If you do have one, evaluate it and make sure you’re finding people that can take your company in the direction you want it to go – or one you never dreamed of going before.

2. Let Them Play
Allow people to have fun on the job. There’s nothing wrong with having a little fun at the office – within reason of course. Playing is all about imagination and in turn, employees give back with a fresh perspective and that ever-elusive innovation.

According to Lauren Austin, creative director at marketing agency MKG in New York, quoted in a CNN article, “The emphasis on fun spawns creative energy. Inspiration comes from interacting with one another and the world around us”. MKG is known for their playful atmosphere in the office and renowned for their marketing campaigns.

3. Invest in Development – Personal and Professional
Employees want to know that their careers are going somewhere. Top companies have programs that allow for career development, but truly innovative companies are investing in the personal development as well.

Think about their well-being – more fruits and water for snacks instead of crisps and soda, on-site Zumba, meditation breaks, offering gym membership subsidies or rewards for quitting smoking. This inspires a positive workplace culture with happy and healthy employees who are in turn more productive at work.

4. Build Community In the Office
Community building is a buzzword, especially for brands that want to create a community amongst their customers. What about building community in your own office?

Allow for more opportunities for all members of staff to mingle in a setting outside of work – and make it fun and interesting.

During their 2011 Christmas party, Vodafone created a once-in-a-lifetime experience: they set a Guinness World Record for the longest Christmas cracker pulling chain. It was engaging and gave their employees a shared experience, while the record reflected Vodafone’s company values.

5. Be Literally Forward Thinking
Think ahead. You should be actively considering how the workplace will change and how your company can accommodate the expectations of future employees – especially now that 11 percent of the workforce is made up of millennials. By 2025, the majority of the workforce will be made up of people born in the 80s and 90s, according to Forbes.

What is changing in the workplace? What kinds of technology will people be using and how will it change how we work? What will work-life balance mean in the age of communication?

These are just some of the questions you should be asking as you plan your company’s future.

6.  Crowd source. Share. Try a Holacracy.
Share your assets or maximise their use. If you’re not using a pricey piece of equipment, rent it out to another company. Open your office space to co-working – workspace for freelancers. It’s a great way to utilize idle spaces and promote a collaborative work culture. You may even find yourself with a new employee.

Companies are re-organising themselves into holacracies – structuring the company around what needs to be done rather than who should be doing it. Authority is distributed amongst everyone on the team and everyone is a leader of their own roles and followers of others’. Online show retailer, Zappos has just started the process.

JonJon Yeung loves to blog about search marketing, exploring certain subjects in depth and preaching the importance of quality content. He regularly updates himself with the current trends, follow for more adventures.