Company culture is arguably one of the most important keys to small business success and can be the difference between a productive, successful business or a failed one. Let’s explore why paying attention to company culture is important for your small business.
What is company culture?
Company culture is an ambiguous term consisting of many parts and differs from business to business, but ultimately defines the environment and values of a workplace.
The most important building blocks of a positive culture are:
- Employees feeling valued and able to share their opinions
- Employees are proud of their job, the company and the work they do
- Everyone is respected, no matter their position in the company
- Flexibility integrates into policies and decisions
- Diversity is welcomed and celebrated
- Employees are trusted and not micro-managed
- Both physical and mental health is valued
- Employees receive perks which make them enjoy work and feel important
Why is culture important?
Positive and innovative company culture is important for many reasons. Namely, employees who feel happy and valued will work harder, therefore increasing productivity and overall business success.
Satisfied employees are likely to stay in their roles longer, reducing the cost of hiring and training new staff. They are also motivated to share new ideas and opinions if they feel like a valued member of the company.
Company culture can impact positively on the business’ reputation and make it easier to attract high-quality talent for future roles.
How to foster innovation
Fostering innovation and forward thinking is one of the best ways to create a positive company culture. Business’s benefit from innovation resulting naturally as a side-effect of positive culture. Creating an innovative environment can be achieved by making sure all employees feel valued and that their opinion is important, as well as having regular, open communication. Creating multiple avenues for innovative ideas to be shared (such as an ideas box and brainstorms) is important to cater to everyone’s preferred communication style.
Management should be open to new ideas and regularly engage with staff to foster an innovative culture. An ‘open door’ policy assists with this. Keeping on top of industry trends is key to a forward-thinking company. Encourage discussion by subscribing to trade magazines or newsletters and provide professional development opportunities to staff.
Companies with an excellent culture
Looking globally for inspiration is a smart idea.
Examples of companies with world-renowned culture are:
- Netflix – employees receive paid parental leave for a whole year
- Google – employees are encouraged to work on their own projects at work
- Zappos – new employees, are offered $2,000 (USD) to leave their job if they feel it isn’t for them
- Warby Parker – recognises that company culture doesn’t happen on its own and has a team dedicated to crafting culture
- Squarespace – has an incredibly flat management structure, meaning employees aren’t lost in a hierarchy
While these big brand examples are great, it’s important to remember that any business can have a great culture – no matter how big or small.
The overall idea to take away from these corporations is that their employees are valued and highly important to the company. No amount of free lunches or ping pong tables will make an undervalued employee stay at their job.
How to positively contribute to the culture in your business
Every employee in a business is key to creating a positive company culture, not just upper management. You can do this in your own company by being a leader and coming up with original ideas, rather than following others. Lead by example and treat others in the workplace how you like to be treated.
Remember to leave personal conflict out of the professional environment and respect your colleagues, no matter their position in the company. Additionally, upskilling is a great way to contribute positively to your company’s culture, especially by learning more about leadership. Achieving a qualification in business or leadership and management can be a natural stepping stone to senior or management roles.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to be a leader or creating a positive workplace culture, a Diploma of Leadership & Management (BSB51918) or a Diploma of Business (BSB50215) (or as a double diploma) is a great place to start. You can study while working in your current job, allowing you to apply what you’re learning immediately.
Company culture is one of the most important factors in small business success, but it can also be difficult to cultivate, as it relies heavily on people. With the right training, an open-mind, and a positive outlook, it is easy for a business to achieve a happy environment for all employees.