5 Ways Small Business Owners Can Create a Positive Company Culture

February 15, 2023

5 Ways Small Business Owners Can Create a Positive Company Culture
Company culture

People don't just want to work at Google because it looks good on their resumes. Google offers perks that make working there a privilege, including free chef-prepared food, a large campus with green spaces, volunteering initiatives, social clubs, and more. Google has a strong company culture. But thankfully, you don't need to make the same amount of money as Google to create a positive corporate culture in your business (a relief, considering that Google made $256.74 billion in revenue in 2021).  

Want to know how? Read on. We'll tell you everything you need to know.

Benefits of Creating a Business Culture That's Positive

Fostering a positive company culture has plenty of benefits that make the investment worth it. For example, a positive small business culture can help your company retain talented staff for longer, which reduces costs associated with high turnover. On average, it costs around $4,700 to onboard each new employee, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

Another key benefits of a positive culture is increased productivity. When employees feel valued and supported, they are more likely to be motivated and engaged in their work. This leads to better output and improved performance, which can ultimately drive sales and growth for the business.

A positive business culture may also improve public image. A company with a good reputation for its culture and treatment of employees is more likely to attract customers and business partners. This can result in increased customer satisfaction, which can in turn drive sales and boost the company's bottom line.  

Finally, creating a positive culture in a small business can also be beneficial for employees themselves. When employees feel supported and appreciated, they are more likely to develop new skills and abilities, which can help them advance in their careers. Additionally, a positive culture can help employees feel more fulfilled in their work, reducing the likelihood of burnout and increasing job satisfaction.  

Small Business Culture Examples

To better understand what makes a company’s culture excellent, let’s take a look at a few examples. We've already touched on why Google has an ideal company culture, but it's not the only company that's killing it.  

Squarespace and Zappos are also fantastic places to work. Here's why:

1. Squarespace  

Squarespace — which helps people create no-code websites — doesn't have the typical hierarchical structure of most workplaces. Instead, there are few levels of management, and almost everyone is a decision-maker.  

Squarespace also takes care of employees so they can work better, offering:

  • Generous health insurance benefits  
  • Competitive salaries  
  • Donation matching  
  • Free meals
  • Celebrations throughout the year  
  • Flexible vacations  
  • Up to 20 weeks of paid family leave (including for parents who are adopting)  

2. Zappos

Zappos sells footwear online, and its main draw for employees is its employee-first mindset. Zappos hires almost exclusively by finding the candidate who is the best culture fit. If new hires decide the job isn't for them, Zappos compensates them for quitting.  Zappos is also guided by ten core business values. And interestingly, the company hands out raises based on tests that team members pass (this is to avoid favoritism).  

Source: Zappos

How To Build an Office Culture That’s Positive

Now that you know what a good office culture looks like, here's how to build a company culture that's positive:  

1. Identify the Type of Culture You Want

According to business professors Robert E. Quinn and Kim Cameron, there are four types of corporate culture:

  1. The "Clan Culture" (or "Collaborative Culture") — This a culture based on teamwork, relationships, morale, and consensus.
  1. The "Adhocracy Culture" (or "Create Culture") — This is the culture known to "move fast and break things". Employees in these offices are encouraged to take risks and pursue off-the-wall concepts.
  1. The "Market Culture" — This is a culture based on results where employees are constantly competing with each other.  
  1. The "Hierarchy Culture" (or "Control Culture") — This is the traditional, bureaucratic office culture you're probably trying to avoid.

We recommend you do some reading about your preferred office culture to understand it better. After identifying the corporate culture that would work best with your current business, then you need to determine how you want to implement it.

2. Determine What Perks You Want To Offer

Good small company cultures are built on give and take. So, the next step is to brainstorm the perks you want to offer to employees. Here are some suggestions:

  • Paid Time Off (PTO)
  • Health insurance  
  • Donation matching  
  • Retirement savings plans
  • Flexible start and end times
  • Remote work options
  • Company-subsidized meals  
  • Student loan assistance  
  • Support for employees pursuing higher education  
  • Employee rewards program

Additionally, many employees want to ensure they can provide for their families. Here are some suggestions that go the extra mile:  

  • Subsidized childcare
  • Paid paternal and maternal leave  
  • Parental adoption benefits
  • Life insurance  
  • Volunteer Time Off (VTO)

3. Hire People Who Align With This Culture

When interviewing candidates for new positions, always make sure they are a good culture fit. A "culture fit" is someone who agrees with your organization's core values and works well in office cultures like yours. Hiring people who are good culture fits helps maintain and elevate your company culture, creating a better working environment for everyone. This will in-turn help retain key players in your organization and allow them to grow with the organization.  

Here are some ways to ensure a candidate is a culture fit:

  • Ask about their goals, values, and vision and ensure you are on the same page
  • Ask about their work behaviors and habits  
  • Compare their previous work culture to your culture
  • Ask about their desired company culture and team dynamic  
  • Ask your staff to meet the new team member in an informal setting  

You can also implement Harver's Cultural Fit Assessment or HighMatch's Culture Fit Assessment Test.

4. Provide Office Perks For Existing Employees

This step is straightforward: you roll out perks for existing employees and begin putting them into practice. Managers should lead by example and ensure that they treat their teams with respect and gratitude. Their direct reports will see the value that is placed on this and in turn pass it along to their co-workers and customers.  

The leadership team should also be setting aside time to use their company benefits. Taking vacations, volunteering at events, taking time off will signal to their staff that it is ok to take necessary time off for their family and well-being while remaining productive. We recommend that you seek feedback from employees during this process. This can come in the form of anonymous surveys, town hall events, or even performance reviews. Allowing each employee to be heard is a valuable step in implementing these changes.  

5. Put Systems in Place to Prevent Burnout

Company cultures have one major enemy: burnout. Thankfully, you can put systems in place to prevent burnout. Burnout is a specific type of stress that people can develop at work. Symptoms include being physically and emotionally exhausted, a loss of sense of purpose, and lower productivity. Preventing burnout and taking care of your employees are important to running a successful business and fostering excellent company culture.

To help mitigate burnout, we recommend that you check in with employees who haven't taken leave every quarter. Ask what you can do to help them take leave.  

We also recommend offering self-care time during work — like an office-wide yoga session, a fun activity on a Friday, or bonding time for employees. These little things make a huge difference. You could also look into a profit-sharing initiative to reward employees.  

Ways a Company Can Improve its Culture (and How Idea Financial Can Help!)  

Culture in small companies is more important now than ever before. In today’s economic climate, companies need to ensure they insulate themselves any turbulent times ahead. By ensuring employees are well trained, well taken care of, and are excelling in their assigned tasks, your business can maintain growth in the days ahead.  

If you want to create a good office culture, we recommend keeping these tips in mind:

  • Be transparent
  • Lead by example
  • Optimize the interview process  
  • Stick to your core values
  • Hire like-minded people
  • Give employees agency
  • Foster teamwork
  • Invest in benefits and perks
  • Help employees avoid burnout
  • Keep learning and growing

Is your business hurting financially due to company culture? Are you ready to start leading by example and improve your culture for yourself, your employees, and your customers?  

Making changes to your organization can be time consuming and expensive. We can help!