As a small-business owner, your biggest battle is not with your competition or even the fight for more customers. It’s for the hearts and souls of your team members. Because in the long run, if you don’t have them on your side and truly passionate about what you do, your company will never succeed.
In this article, we’re sharing six ideas that can help you turn your company into an amazing place with an awesome company culture, where team members and you will love to work. It’s the best way to make your business fun again.
What Is Company Culture?
Before we begin, let’s go over exactly what culture is. Culture is the collective values, beliefs and norms of a business. Simply put, it’s your company’s personality and environment.
Breaking Down Company Culture
Examples of Great Company Culture
Like EntreLeadership Coach John Felkins explains in the video above, every company, whether big or small, has a workplace culture. Here are some examples of healthy company cultures:
This online shoe giant consistently gets ranked as one of the best corporate cultures in America and that doesn’t happen by accident. From its hiring practices to customer service to the work environment, everything and everyone—including CEO Tony Hsieh—reinforce the company’s core values. To learn about their culture, check out Tony’s book: Delivering Happiness.
- Wegmans Food Markets
The last place you might think would have an amazing culture is a grocery store. But this Rochester, New York-based supermarket chain can easily complete—culture-wise—with the Googles and Apples of the world. Named #2 on 100 Best Companies to Work For 2017 by Fortune magazine, Wegmans has a long history of putting its team members first. Employees are smiling and happy with flexible work schedules, generous scholarship opportunities and plenty of chances to advance their careers.
- Ramsey Solutions
Not to toot our own horn, but, yes, Ramsey Solutions is known for it’s culture. Voted one of the best places to work in Nashville ten times, thousands of people apply to work here each year. To name a few of the perks: communication is open, every employee knows they are doing work that matters, schedules are flexible and work-life balance is encouraged. Add to that an amazing leadership team that encourages their teams to personally grow, and you can see why it’s so popular.
A culture can be unhealthy, too—think working at Leavenworth Penitentiary on a bad day. Or it can be somewhere in between. The good news is if your company’s culture is bad or just mediocre, it can be changed for the better.
How healthy is your culture? Take the test (3 minutes).
How to Improve Your Workplace Culture
Now that you know what culture is, let’s get started with some ideas to improve yours.
- Take Your Time When Hiring
You can’t create an amazing culture with a bunch of bad employees on board who are creating a toxic atmosphere and won’t work as a team. That’s why it’s critical to take your time when hiring.
And when we say time, we truly mean it. At Ramsey Solutions, each team member is interviewed multiple times before being hired. The process can take several months. If the applicant is not the perfect fit for the position, they’re not asked to join our team. In fact, there are twelve steps used in our hiring process. Check them out below.
Download: The EntreLeader’s Guide to Hiring
The result of all these steps is that Ramsey Solutions has one of the lowest turnover rates in the country—about 4% per year not counting life events, like moving to another city—and a building full of rock stars who are incredibly talented, creative and passionate about what they do.
And before we move onto the next idea, remember this: Employing the wrong person damages more than your culture. It’s also costly. According to a study by CAP, the average cost of turnover for a mid-range position is 21 percent of an employee’s annual salary. For someone making $75,000, for example, the cost is $15,750. For lower-paying jobs, the average is 16 percent.
- Kill Gossip
As a small-business owner, one of your biggest foes is gossip. Negative chatter has the power to destroy everything you’ve built—killing unity, loyalty and your culture. It is insidious and it is contagious. You need to stamp it out if you want unity.
At Ramsey Solutions, we have a zero-gossip policy. Get caught doing it and you’re warned and then fired. It’s that serious. So what constitutes gossip?
This policy encourages team members to tell their leaders about the bad stuff—not each other. In fact, we follow a rule: negatives go up, positives go down. By definition, it’s saying something negative about anyone or anything to someone who can’t do anything about it. Team members only tell their leaders about the bad stuff—not each other. In fact, we follow a rule: negatives go up, positives go all around.
How does Dave feel about gossip?
- Communicate With Intention
Companies with winning workplace cultures have high levels of communication that’s intentional and effective. Except for when sensitive accounting information is involved, they share everything with their teams, whether good news or bad.
Here at Ramsey Solutions, almost nothing is off limits. Dave knows that great communication unites the team and reduces drama and turnover. It also increases creativity and production.
Related: 8 Toxic Communication Trips to Avoid
- Show Them the Money
When it comes to your team, do you want a bunch of mindless clock-punchers or super-fired-up people who are helping you win every day? If you choose the latter, then make sure you are not only paying them well but also incentivizing them—including non-salespeople—for excellent work.
Here at Ramsey Solutions, there are numerous plans, from commission for sales people to monthly profit-sharing and bonuses. To learn more, check out The EntreLeader’s Guide to Compensation.
Dave wants each team member to feel a sense of ownership. “I love incentives that allow people to share in the win,” he says. “If you work on my team and get up, leave the cave, kill something and drag it in, I will share it with you. I would put the receptionist on straight commission if I could figure out a way.”
- Lead Well
Dave readily admits that when he first started his company, he wouldn’t have won any awards for his great leadership skills. And then he realized what was holding him back was staring at him in the mirror—himself.
In fact, business/leadership author John C. Maxwell has given it an official name—the Law of the Lid. Your organization can’t grow beyond your leadership capabilities. You are the lid. Thankfully, there’s a fix. “You can decide who you want to be and get about the business of becoming that person,” Dave says.
- Recognize Them
Business author Ken Blanchard says the last time that most of us received applause was at our high school graduation. And more than one-third of Americans are actively looking for a new job, with 43% citing lack of recognition as one of the main reasons for their unhappiness, according to a report by Mercer?
People, young and old, rich and poor, yearn for recognition. And when you do it well, you’ll create a group of passionate, creative, motivated team members. Here at Ramsey Solutions, our leaders intentionally recognize people every day, from handwritten notes to gift cards for a job well done to celebrating birthdays. Check out some additional ways we say thank you to our team.
Running a small company is never easy. But when you create a company culture where people love to come to work, there’s nothing you can’t achieve. Your business will become fun again and like your team, you’ll love to be there. Everyone wins.