Whatever your business, it will soon fail if employees are only there to get paid at the end of the month. Workers need good leadership, engaging tasks and firm goals to keep them happy, all of which is down to the boss or HR manager of any small business.
Startup culture can only get any business so far. Collectively hammering away at building the product or service is a challenge that soon wears off, as teams or workers clash, especially after months of long hours. Conversely, even a company with a simple service to offer will find people getting bored and looking for bigger challenges, sometimes it seems as a business leader, you just can’t win.
To keep the business on track and valued employees in the fold, you need to be a good people manager, focused on their needs as well as those of the business. In the era of social media, a bad manager or owner will soon find their reputation in tatters, while those who think it is clever to boast about their hardcore startup culture will scare potential recruits away. With this in mind here’s some plain advice for building a strong and attractive company culture.
Create a business where you want to work
Starting a company is a simple process, and starting one that will attract workers isn’t complex, just build a business and environment you would be happy to work in. That means sensible hours, plenty of challenge and rewards for success, a culture of personal responsibility and a drive toward openness and honesty about the business.
Whatever the roles, if people have clear and focused targets with incentives to meet them, they will feel more engaged and driven. In an ideas-based business, encouraging people to contribute and expand their roles creates the opportunity for everyone to feel ownership and to take part.
Beyond that, simple touches like starting an hour late on Monday and finishing an hour or two early on Friday allow people to come into work in the right frame of mind. Team building, training courses, and social events also help build a strong business, as long as it is inclusive. Not everything has to be about hard drinking (what about those who don’t drink?) or silly challenges.
When it comes to bonuses, constant rewards for the best salespeople will always go to the natural leaders, but rewards for the “most improved” people or “more useful contribution” will encourage everyone to do better. Bonuses for valuable ideas and improvements can see everyone across the office or business thinking how to improve how the company works.
Be the boss, but a responsive one
In a small business, someone has to be in charge of HR, whether a dedicated role or one of the senior leaders. With that comes the responsibility of looking after worker’s rights and needs. Not only does your business have to follow HR law to the letter, but being a good business and a steward for the company will make it more attractive.
Offer support and help for people who have problems. Deal with complaints about office inappropriate behaviour or failures to meet standards fairly and above board, never bury them or put it down to “culture.”
Communicate the big ideas
The best way to keep people working for the business is to have a clear plan and let people know where the company is going. This is key to being a good manager, and will help build people’s faith in business and leadership.
Regular updates, good communications, sharing new opportunities and being open and honest about bad times, redundancies and so on will help soften that blow, a little. Leaders who allow their business to operate in secret or building cliques within an office only create a hostile and worrying culture that give people reasons to look elsewhere, and they certainly won’t recommend others to join in.
By being expressive, the business also encourages people to engage and report when things are going wrong earlier, or don’t look right. Any business that expects people to shut up and get on with it is more likely to struggle to deal with the issues that any growing company has to deal with.
Equal pay and rights are simple
In the 21st century, it is staggering to think that genders can be paid differently for the same role. Start out paying people the same and it won’t be an issue as the business grows, especially as you’ll have to report any gaps once the business hits 250 people.
The same goes for rights and respect, hiring practices that encourage the best and brightest will bring all sorts of people through your door. Excluding them for people who went to the right school, have similar attitudes or hiring because they will “fit in” only builds a hegemony that will be hostile to “different” people, creating a dangerous and possibly toxic culture.
Whatever your business, making it a great place to work increases the chances of it being a great company to work for that will thrive.