Most SMEs make one big mistake when it comes to priorities. They direct plenty of resources to external marketing, and little to none on internal branding. It’s easy to fall into this trap. You know that in order to sell your product or service, you need to shape how your brand appears to potential customers. But what about your internal branding, or company culture? The culture within your business has a definite impact on performance. If your business has a vision and values that employees can get on board with, they’re going to be aligned with your business goals. If they’re aligned, they’re going to be more engaged. If you improve employee engagement, you’re going to have staff who are happier and more dedicated. In turn, that will lead to increased staff performance and more sales. Plus, you’ll have lower employee turnover, which will save you time and money on recruitment. It’s a no brainer.
In today’s job market, employees expect a strong and positive company culture. With so much mobility in the workplace, if someone ain’t happy, they’re not gonna slog it out. It’s worth prioritising the improvement of the day-to-day experience of your employees. So exactly how do you create a positive culture in your business? It’s relatively straightforward if you follow these steps.
1. Invest in your internal brand
Taking care of the people who take care of your business is worth the investment. The first step is a commitment to investing, not only money, but also time and effort. You want this to be successful the first time around, so it’s important to have a good strategy and complete each step of it. Firstly, find out what your employees want and need from the business. Then develop a long term plan to achieve this. Why not start by conducting a survey of your current staff? Work out what kind of environment would keep them happy while attracting more talent. Then plan out what’s required to make it a reality. This is something you should do regularly to stay on top of the employee experience.
2. Encourage personal and professional growth
People like to see a future that is brighter than what they have right now. This motivates them to work towards attaining that future. You can support the growth of your employees in a number of ways. Provide training and development opportunities, mentoring arrangements or team-building activities. Consider giving your staff time off to attend personal and professional development courses. Provide ways for them ways to upskill. When they feel like they are actively growing and moving towards that brighter future they’ll be happier and more engaged.
3. Meet their personal needs
We’re all human and we all need time to recuperate now and then. Don’t overstress your employees by forgetting this simple fact. Factor in things like time off for personal issues, remote working days and regular breaks. If they know they can count on you to be flexible when they need to recharge, it’s likely they’ll be more engaged and productive in return. Employees appreciate bosses who value the wellbeing of their staff. It’s now much more acceptable to ask for time off to deal mental health issues. Have a procedure in place for when your employees start to feel overwhelmed. Support them in dealing with stress.
4. Foster meaningful relationships
We are social beings who crave connection and meaningful interactions. Working with a team of people you genuinely like makes work much more enjoyable! Having good relationships with your colleagues also adds a greater sense of purpose to your day. Strengthen relationships between staff by getting them to work together on tasks outside of their normal job description. You could organise a team building day, or even just a lunch or dinner outside of work hours. You could also hold a friendly competition that requires people to work in teams. A regular social catch up is another good option.
5. Focus on developing good managers
Not getting along with a manager is one the key reasons people quit jobs. Whereas having a good manager can make all the different to a team’s engagement and performance. Positive cultures start from the top. The days of the tough, impersonal manager are gone. Encourage your leaders to show compassion when dealing with staff. Ensure they are recognising the strengths and accomplishments of their team members. It might be worth sending them to a management training course, as having a good manager can make such a difference to the success of your team. A good manager sets the right example and ensures everyone on the team has what they need to do a good job.
6. Strive to find the people that best ‘fit’ your business
Everyone has different values, views and behaviours – choose staff whose traits best align with the business for higher levels of accord. When people feel aligned with what your business does and how it does it, they’ll identify with it, which will lead to stronger loyalty and commitment. If you work for a business that shares your personal values it’s more likely you’ll be happier (and therefore more productive), there. Next time you’re interviewing, focus on whether a candidate’s personality matches the business personality. Tip – you’ll need a clear idea of the business personality first. The next point will help with this.
7. Build employee engagement
Two core things will impact an employee’s level of engagement – their team and the direction and values of the business. Fully engaged workers enjoy being at work and their output reflects this. They will be your best ambassadors. Employees who are not engaged will often demonstrate poor performance and unreliability. They can create morale issues by complaining to other staff. Improving employee engagement starts with developing a clear idea of the objectives and commitments of the business. These can be identified through mission and vision statements and the creation of a set of company values. These will tell the employee what the business stands for and where it is heading. Key activities for improving employee engagement include:
- Regular, positive communication
- Reinforcing the value of the work people do
- Asking for feedback and listening to what employees say
- Providing employees with the tools and resources they need to do their job
- Supporting employees with professional development and training
- Caring for the welfare and well-being of employees
- Encouraging fun and humour in the workplace
- Recognising and rewarding extra effort and outstanding results
Now you’ve got some ideas for how to improve your company culture it’s time to get started! Here are three projects you can kick off today to make a real difference:
1. Holding regular meetings with staff to check on progress and to resolve any issues
2. Having a training and professional development plan for each employee
3. Introducing health and well-being programs in your workplace