8 Methods to Create a Positive Company Culture for Your Small Business

Creating a positive work culture sounds simple in theory, but actually making and maintaining one is a different story. We’ve collected a variety of fresh ideas on how to create a positive company culture for ideal employee retention and attraction.

Define what you want your company culture and values to look like

The perfect starting point to creating a positive company culture is to determine what your business is at its core. Define why you do what you do, what you believe, and where you want to go. If you don’t have a clear answer to these three questions, then you won’t have a clear idea of what it means for your company to have a positive culture. Start with what’s most important to you and go from there.

Establish a set of values

There are lots of things businesses strive to be: efficient, affordable, profitable, transparent, unique, ethical, sustainable . . . the list goes on. Of course, you probably want your business to be defined by most or all of these words, but you have to establish a few core values to focus on and direct your energy to. What is your top priority? How about a top three? These high values are going to guide the creation of your work culture.

Invest time in building your talent brand

A talent brand is what a company’s employees think, feel, and say about your company as a whole. How do the candidates you’re looking to hire feel about your business? Are you met with indifference or enthusiasm? Have you given the candidates a good reason to have a positive opinion of who you are? Are they clear on what you stand for? Your employees are one of the biggest parts of the culture you are building—make sure they will both be welcomed by and contribute to that positivity.

Make a game plan

What will you do when things aren’t going smoothly? In order to have a truly positive work culture, there should be a procedure in place for conflict and standards for proper communication. No problem should be looked at as silly or unsolvable; the functioning of your business rests on the ability to resolve conflicts efficiently and professionally. The only way to guarantee proper resolution is having a solid plan in place for when issues arise.

Make a long-term plan, too

If your company culture is going to be durable, you need to develop a plan for the long-term. In what ways will you continue to uphold, improve, and evolve your culture? What action steps should be taken every day, month, quarter, year? What situations will constitute a need to shift current processes and ideas of a “good” culture? You can’t assume that your business—or what it’s like to work there—will always remain the way it is now. Outline how you want your future to look and what you’ll do to make it so.

Recognize and reward those who’ve got it down

Don’t forget to show appreciation for those who work hard to keep your company’s values at the core of their work. Positive reinforcement is a great tool to boost employee morale and encourage others to engage in the same progressive behaviors. Consider giving monthly or annual awards to the top value upholders or promoters of a healthy work environment.

Have open ears

In a positive work culture, feedback should be encouraged. No matter how well you think the culture implementation is going, you never know in what ways you can improve. Feedback should flow both up and down, with every employee welcome to contribute and every response taken seriously.

Promote, don’t establish

The positivity doesn’t stop with some mantra or mission statement. A culture needs to be perpetually monitored, encouraged, and improved if it is going to have a lasting impact. Don’t just institute the idea of a friendly work culture: exemplify it. Promote it in your communication, your meetings, your actions and interactions. It is up to you, your executives, and your employees to uphold what was first established.

With the right attention and focus, your business can have a work culture that leaves employees feeling empowered and valued. Oftentimes, you don’t need to allocate a large portion of your budget or arrange a weekend retreat to have a healthy company culture; you just need to be intentional in your choices and everyday processes.

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