Whether you have a small bakery downtown or an IT company with over 100 employees, company culture is something you should pay attention to if you want your business to succeed. And when it comes to company culture, it doesn’t matter how many inspirational posters you have hanging on your wall, if your employees don’t feel valued and don’t work full-force, your company can’t reach success. So what can you do to make sure your staff is content and the clients keep coming? As we don’t really like shooting the breeze, here is some practical advice on what to do.
- Create comfortable working conditions for your employees
What we mean is, go back to the basics and make sure your team has the means to work productively. Not every expert agrees, but some studies show that ergonomics can influence productivity and benefit your employees greatly. According to Forbes, both mental and physical health of the employees is crucial to the company’s overall success.
- If your team has desks, make sure they are comfortable enough and not hazardous to their health. Chairs have enough back support and the monitors are positioned right.
- The connection has to be top-notch. You can’t afford to have reception problems. This rule goes for any kind of business, because either your staff is going to suffer, or your clients, thus the whole business too. If you are worried about your reception, consider a cell phone booster. It will definitely eliminate a lot of the stress and keep your team connected even if your office has a tricky location.
- If you can afford to have your staff on a fluid schedule, do it. In our day and age, it is essential to have schedule flexibility. Your staff is going to be much more willing to get the job done if they know they can do it on their own timetable. And if not, at least they will know that in case they need to leave in emergency, or they have a family crisis of some sort, they are not alone and you can back them up if necessary, which brings us to the next important step
- You should be working for your team as much as they work for you
When you pick and choose the people who are going to be working for you, choose carefully. Everyone knows that, right? Because you must be willing to work for them as much as they are working for you. If you want your business to succeed, people are your most valuable asset, especially if you are dealing with clients directly. Stephen Covey, who is not only the author of “7 Habits of highly effective people” bestseller but also a leading specialist on company culture, suggests that any company, big or small, should always strive for win-win situations when it comes to their staff. The management should work diligently to accomplish synergy and work towards shared goals. So what practical steps can you take in this direction?
- Make sure you personally know the people working for you. Know who they are in their day-to-day lives, what they aspire to become, and what they enjoy doing. Why? Because if you don’t know who you are working with, you can’t anticipate their needs and their actions. Frankly, that’s a foolish thing to overlook. We don’t mean this as an advantage in manipulative sort of way. But if you hope to build a strong team, knowing your people well is essential.
- Spot the conflicts early and sort them out. If you look closely and observe your staff and their dynamics, you can be sure to spot some sharp edges here and there. Your HRM duty is to make sure those conflicts don’t escalate. In some situations, it’s better to have a talk with both sides one-on-one, in others, it’s better to bring both sides together and have an open conversation.
- Definitely don’t spare finances on team-building. Weekend outings, picnics, adventures, hikes, anything you can think of! Once people get to know each other outside of office walls, team dynamics become much more free-flowing, and frankly, people have much more fun working together.
- Your team has to know what behavior is expected of them in various situations.
It can be understood as transparency in your actions and decisions. According to one of the top experts in company culture Walt Rakowich, the idea of being open and transparent in your actions towards your employees makes all the difference. And this is someone who managed to turn “Prologis” into a growing company once again after he became its CEO in 2008 . This rule is a key point in making sure your team works effectively. By the way, it is so universal, that it is also a pivotal idea in the discussion on child-rearing. If you want people (big or small) to behave a certain way, they need to know to the letter what is actually expected of them. You have to be open about your actions and most importantly expectations. This excludes the possibility of the management playing favorites, and, most importantly, of your staff feeling lost.
Plus, this gives everybody working for you an ‘emotional back support’, more confidence in difficult situations, and lets them know they are not alone.
- Make sure they don’t lose sight of the bigger picture
The need to belong is crucial to our mental health. The same goes for any business. When people know that they are a part of something bigger than themselves, they work with greater pleasure. This sounds a bit cheesy, but it’s actually true for any work. Now if you are a bricklayer, you are not simply laying bricks. You are building a house for people to start their families in. If you work in a hair salon, you are not just fixing people’s hair. You are setting their mood for the whole day, you are making them pretty for their date, or giving them confidence for an important meeting at work.
Engagement is a pivotal point for working more effectively. According to a study conducted by Hay Group, highly engaged employees are 50% more likely to exceed expectations, and that leads to 89% more customer satisfaction.
Your HRM objective is clear here. Make sure you encourage your staff to see the bigger picture. It lets them know how important they are for you as their manager, and for the whole business. How to do that? By showing appreciation for a job well done. People generally respond much better to praise than to punishment, although the letter is also important at times.
As you see, the phrase ‘nothing personal, just business’ doesn’t really work. Business IS personal, and it SHOULD be personal not only for you but for your staff as well. Then you are not just fixing tires or baking cakes, or tech supporting a stock market… You are working together for a shared goal, and that’s priceless.