Tips For Maintaining Your Company Culture As Your Business Grows
Many people think financial issues are one of the biggest growth pains for companies, but it's not always the case. For instance, if you're growing it can be difficult to recruit and retain the right staff.
Preserving your company culture as you grow is a big challenge for many business owners.
According to Professor Gerry George from the Imperial College London, smaller businesses don't need human resources or a formal approach. However, when they start to grow it becomes a totally different story.
"When you're a hundred, the buzz begins to go and suddenly you need career development and to clarify what people's roles are. A lot of companies don't do that," he said.
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Achieving a good culture is good for your workforce and overall productivity
But how to do you go about it? And is it really possible? Get started with these practical tips:
- Don't forget to communicate
The more staff you employ, the more difficult it becomes for you to maintain the same level of personalised communication with your workforce. Slow, indirect and inaccurate communications can lead to employees becoming disengaged, increasingly frustrated and feeling isolated.
One way in which you can make sure your staff still feel like an essential part of your business and keep the ethos of your company alive as you expand is by operating an open communications policy.
This is particularly important if you're undergoing a period of sustained change, as it's only right your staff get the latest updates directly rather than hearing about them from a second hand source. The same goes for employees who work off-site, or if you have multiple offices. Just because they're not permanently around doesn't mean you shouldn't be regularly keeping them in the loop on company issues.
- Do reward your workforce
Happy workers tend to stay with a company for longer and take fewer sick days. In fact, research published by the University of Warwick has revealed that happiness can boost employee productivity by as much as 10%.
Make your employees feel valued by recognising and rewarding them for their hard work. We're not saying you should go to the same lengths that Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, did when he gave his staff a paid holiday through the week of Thanksgiving to celebrate a record-setting year. But making small, regular gestures can make all the difference.
For instance, maintaining a good balance of social activities and giving that little bit extra, such as a free breakfast or early Friday finish, are particularly good for boosting team morale. (We recently held a company Fitbit challenge, which promoted a bit of healthy competition across the team and got us all moving! Read our news story for full details).
Social events are also really useful for encouraging team bonding as well as creating a positive working environment.
- Do invest in your staff
When you're experiencing business growth it can be difficult to stick to your existing processes or shape them to adapt to your business as it evolves. Make sure you get buy in from your team by continuing to listen to them and being responsive to their needs where possible.
This is where performance appraisals are essential. As discussed in Tip 1, two-way communication is central to making your staff feel an integral part of your business. And this is where performance appraisals and standards come in.
If you've always held regular appraisals, make sure you stick to them. If they're not something you've implemented, make sure you do so as they:
- Enable you to monitor your employees' ongoing development
- Be responsive to their needs
- Regularly communicate your vision and core values to staff as they evolve. That way, your growth goals will be at the forefront of everyone's mind
- Link your employees' performance to your company targets so that you're all working towards achieving the same goals
Having the right ambassadors on board is also key to keeping your company culture alive. Businesses can become so focused on their customers and growth objectives that they forget a key element: attracting and retaining the right staff.
Employ people whose personalities fit with your culture. When interviewing candidates look for personality traits and individuals who embody your brand values. (Want more advice on investing in your staff? Read our blog, 'Using internal communications to create the right culture for growth').
Culture happens whether you create it or not. Ensure your culture goes hand in hand with your business growth by taking the time to invest in it.
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