Savvy leaders at small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) are quickly realizing that a vibrant company culture drives success. They know it’s about more than offering “dress down Fridays” or ping-pong tables in the employee break room. While millennials might be forcing the company culture discussion, efforts to cultivate an engaging work environment must encompass every employee at every level. A company's values must align with what employees are looking for in an employer, from sustainability to charity to treasuring input from everyone. There’s plenty of evidence supporting the notion that a good company culture not only makes for happier and more productive employees — it strengthens the bottom line. A recent Glassdoor study shows public companies that made Glassdoor’s “Best Places to Work” in 2009 outperformed the S&P 500 by 116 percent through 2014. Likewise, companies who landed on Fortune’s “Best Companies to Work For” crushed the competition by outperforming the S&P 500 by 84 percent. A look at the other side of the equation shows how costs soar for SMBs with poor company culture. A Gallup study revealed that “actively disengaged employees” cost the U.S. $450 billion to $550 billion annually, according to this Inc. story on employee engagement.
Who’s your chief culture officer?
It’s probably more important for small-to-medium sized businesses to have a strong company culture because with fewer employees, the disengaged ones can do an outsized amount of damage. According to a recent study by Deloitte University Press, HR leaders consider culture and engagement their number one challenge, stating, “It’s clear that in order to attract, retain and engage the modern workforce, we need to focus on company culture.” The advantages are plentiful: enterprising employees who feel valued; less turnover; more productivity; higher attendance levels and creative problem solving. In order to bolster your SMB’s company culture, remember that you need to get input and feedback from everyone. Many have found that regular surveys can help gauge what’s working well, and identify areas that need improvement.
More ideas to kick-start cool culture
As we’ve stated, communication is key and drives many aspects of vibrant company culture. That means transparency for company leaders, too. Training managers to respect and encourage opinions and ideas from everyone makes employees not only feel important — it shows they ARE important. Communicate kudos, great ideas and company initiatives regularly. Some companies use short weekly videos to accomplish this. Others embrace helpful websites like 15five.com to keep communication lines fluid between managers and team members, prompting more collaboration. Schedule more “culture events” like happy hours, outings to sporting events, BBQs or simply grabbing laptops and working outdoors on a particularly nice day. These events can also benefit charity, with fundraisers or regularly-scheduled volunteer activities. So while it can seem an enormous challenge to an SMB owner to create and maintain a strong company culture, you can see the perils of ignoring it. With the power of everyone’s ideas and involvement, that challenge can turn to fun before you know it.
One other way to build a strong company culture is to actively remove the things that frustrate employees. Automating travel & expense and accounts payable with Concur can cut the amount of busy work and make employees feel more productive and happier. Download the Essential Guide to Managing Expenses and start to see how.