I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit http://facebook.com/visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit http://visa.com/business.
I work with a lot of startups and for them, creating a successful company culture is not a nice-to-have. It’s a must-have that helps them stand out and thrive in a very competitive world.
According to the Visa Business infographic below, 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success. In fact, happier employees are:
• 31% more productive
• 300% more creative
• Produce 37% more sales
If you’re a small business, those numbers are huge and can make the difference between success… and having to close your doors.
First thing’s first: What’s “Company Culture”?
Put simply, it’s how employees behave, the vision they are aiming for on behalf of the company, and any values, systems, beliefs, habits and assumptions the group collectively holds.
According to Wikipedia, this culture will affect the way individuals and groups interact with each other, with clients, and with stakeholders.
Want some examples? Below are factors I’ve seen that can impact a company culture:
Hiring fast, firing fast
As a small business owner, you may find this counter intuitive to productivity. The traditional thinking is that you need to be very careful, choose exactly the right employee at the right time with close to perfect qualifications, and then you all live happily ever after.
The reality for startups with 6-12 months of funding is that this is, in fact, counter productive. They don’t have the luxury of time and long-term thinking. The company needs to create something amazing – quickly – and those who can’t meet the demands of a fast-paced, act-fast environment need to be let go as quickly as possible.
This doesn’t mean hiring haphazardly. A former client of mine in the building supplies industry would have candidates go through several interviews and a thorough assessment in one visit. Candidates are told to prepare for a six-hour interview day!
Waiting for the perfect hire can be just as devastating as hiring the wrong person, but at least a hiring mistake can be corrected. Hiring too slowly doesn’t give your company a chance at all.
Establish company values
One of the startups I work with has the following company values: teamwork, respect, excellence, velocity, and fun. In their business, each mobile app they create has a hard deadline – if they slip by even one day, the customer cannot use what they built and months of work (and potential revenue) go down the drain.
In a company of almost 200 people, small teams of 7-9 people are formed to deliver their projects. Each team has a sense of ownership and works in an atmosphere of “velocity” – extreme cooperation and creativity is key and there is no time for politics – everyone must be singularly focused on deliverables.
Provide incentives and rewards
A client I work with is a leader in converting 2D into 3D movies. Having hired 50 people in the last quarter alone, they are growing rapidly as they continually land big feature films. When their teams have to work longer hours to meet those deadlines, the company will sprinkle in a healthy amount of fun to their day. Whether they hold a foosball tournament or provide ice cream sandwiches on a hot day, there’s always something going on even when they are busy. They also hold a wrap party at the end of a big project – it’s a great way to let everyone wind down and celebrate the success.
As a service contractor, I take to heart the statistic that 60% of employees say having food at the office makes them feel more valued and appreciated!
One of the ways I’ve shown appreciation to my clients is instead of sending gifts to the CEO or marketing person I work with, I send pies, chocolates, and coffee to feed the entire office – sometimes for 150 people or more.
A healthy culture is integral to the success of the company. When employees enjoy where they work and the work they do, the results can be amazing. Employees who are engaged and motivated take ownership of their tasks and will go above and beyond to meet deliverables.
Who wouldn’t want that?
Elena is founder of a technology PR agency that works with startups to billion-dollar companies. She is passionate about helping marketers and small business owners with practical publicity strategies, which she's also using for her own bling flip flop company.
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