For some, this is a vague notion of early finishes on a Friday or biscuits at team meetings.
For others, it’s a meaningless buzz phrase that’s commonly overlooked because it’s so overused on job adverts and mission statements.
But for the most successful business owners, company culture is essential to long-term success.
Creating the right culture is a make-or-break factor when it comes to standing the test of time, an essential foundation of everything you’re hoping to build as a small business owner.
That’s because it’s much more than the superficial decisions about whether there’s space in the office for a pool table ‘ yes, lots of workplaces with excellent cultures offer quirky perks and fun activities for lunch breaks, but look closer and you’ll see it runs much deeper than that.
It’s the reason you attract the very best staff, and then retain them (and their loyalty) for years to come.
It’s the reason those people bring their A-game to work, not only inspiring their colleagues with their positivity and productivity but also influencing your clients, too.
It’s the reason businesses garner industry-leading reputations ‘ especially considering only 2% of companies currently provide activities which promote a supportive culture.
Culture is reflected in the opportunities your team are afforded to develop their own careers and further their expertise. Culture is the reason your flexible-working team opts to come into the office so you can bounce ideas off each other. Culture sees you build your business far faster than your competitors ‘ meaning you can reward your team even more richly.
More than half of workers (56%) value a great company culture over their salary when it comes to their job satisfaction ‘ little wonder when full-time team members spend around half of their waking hours at work.
Even our psychology backs up why it’s so important ‘ take Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which sets out what must be in place before we can reach self-actualisation (the fulfilment of our true potential). Having a sense of belonging and connection is a higher need than the safety which partly comes from job security ‘ meaning creating a sense of community within the workplace gets your workers much closer to fully utilising their talents.
Most business owners set up their company with the idea that it’ll give them freedom ‘ to create a future, manage their own schedule, or spend time with family. And yet the reality is often far removed from that.
That’s because the business is running you ‘ but that can be reversed by creating a culture where you’re all truly working towards the same goals, and the team are just as motivated to grow the company as you. This allows you to move forward in a way which affords you those choices, and consequently greater freedoms.
Find out what your employees’ goals are, work out how they align with your company goals, and move towards them together.
Recognise and reward the team for everything they do.
Look at ways the work environment can become more fun ‘ a place where the team want to be.
Design your office thoughtfully ‘ the right space to work in is proven to lead to a ‘less stressful and more productive atmosphere’.
If you can operate your business remotely then how can you extend that beyond enabling home working? What about working holidays?
But most of all: recruit the right people. There’s no one in the SAS who’s sat in the corner doing nothing, and that’s why they’re a world-renowned elite team. Keep your expectations high, but keep the respect, rewards and recognition the team receive for meeting those expectations just as high.
If you create an environment where your team are performing at the highest level, not only can you achieve more as a business, your turnover then allows for more of those fun experiences together, you have more opportunities to have fun and connect as a group, and consequently you build on that culture where every recruitment drive attracts high-caliber candidates because your reputation as a great place to work will spread across the industry.
Company culture is only a wishy-washy part of your mission statement if you don’t treat it seriously. Because if you want the business that you set out to have, then it starts and ends with culture.