It can be hard for a small business to compete with the trendy, high-dollar office perks now being offered by big brands around the world. Many employees now expect companies to adapt this new model of work life—turning down or even leaving jobs that don’t fit their idea of a fun and productive office culture.
If you find it difficult to retain top employees, keep your teams engaged in their projects or keep the negativity out of your office, chances are you might need to take a look at the culture you’re enforcing. Even if you don’t see glaring issues among your staff, there’s typically room for enhancement in a number of areas that will ultimately improve your bottom line.
Businesses in all industries can start implementing small changes each month. Here are 10 ways to revamp the office culture of your small business:
1. Provide a Challenge
Challenge your employees! Let your staff know that you value their input when it comes to challenging issues within your company. This can often unlock hidden talents that you or your employees didn’t realize they had, and it keeps everyone inspired and on their toes. They are also one of your best resources for ideas pertaining to innovation, internal efficiency and referrals.
One way to do this is to invite a couple of employees in your office the next time you’re facing a difficult task, and ask them to brainstorm with you. Not only are you showing that you value their opinion, you’re providing them with an opportunity to give feedback. You can also send out a company email providing a staff challenge to all the employees. The employee who provides the best solution receives a free lunch.
Lastly, instead of delegating teams you think will be the most productive, put an employee in charge of coordinating teams to work on a special projects. However you challenge your employees, make sure to offer praise where it’s due.
2. Offer Fitness Breaks
Offer a group exercise break in the office. Not only will employees love the chance to move around more during the day, but it can also help alleviate stress and tension.
Besides breaking up the workday day with a little activity, the health benefits for the body and mind can improve productivity across the board. Use your boardroom for yoga—use online videos if you don’t have the budget for an instructor—or encourage team walks throughout the day or at lunch.
3. Show Appreciation
Too often, employers focus only on problems that arise in the office, quickly discussing employee mistakes and pouncing on the negative situations when they occur. It’s important to remember, however, to offer praise and recognition to your employees when it’s due—and often. People want to feel appreciated for their efforts, and a little positive reinforcement can go a long way to boost office morale and motivate employees.
A fun way to offer more praise is to start an annual company party where employees are awarded for their hard work—literally. Think: Most efficient with their time; most sales made; best at boosting office morale. You can offer bonuses or prizes with these awards, or sporadically, whenever employees go above and beyond. Even a simple, “job well done,” can help with retaining your employees and reducing the overall turnover rate.
4. Trust Your Employees
Trust your employees to do their job correctly and to be responsible—do not be a micromanager. Employees hate being managed every second of the day and it can be stressful and an extremely inefficient use of time for both you and your employees. Let them know what you expect and leave them to it. You hired them because you thought they would be valuable to your team. Therefore, you need to be able to sit back and let them work and show their value instead of bringing them down. In a Trinity Solutions survey published in Harry E. Chambers’ book My Way or the Highway: The Micromanagement Survival Guide, 85 percent of respondents said that their morale was impacted negatively by being micromanaged. Employees should be given the ability to lead themselves in their tasks.
5. Office Parties
Have a little fun! Whether it is at the office, or outside the office, invite your staff to socialize and spend some non-working time together. Schedule an office potluck for lunch, or invite everyone to dinner each quarter. Take it up a notch, and host a “Bring Your Child to Work Day,” allowing employees to bring their children to work with them, boosting office morale and injecting some youthful fun into an otherwise ordinary day. You could have music is playing throughout the office, just one day a week or always, or a day for staff to wear jeans and t-shirts if your attire is normally formal.
6. Lead by Example
If you want your company to run smoothly and affectively, you must set the standard by showing your hard work, reliability and dedication. People work better when they have a leader they admire and trust. Make sure you are leading by example, with integrity and honesty, and your employees will follow suit. You need to make sure you are familiar with every aspect of the office. The more knowledgeable you are about everyone else’s job, the better a leader you can be, because you can understand what they are doing and where they are coming from on certain tasks.
7. Self-Defense Classes
Build a stronger and more confident staff through self-defense classes. Scheduling a self-defense training session as a team once a month can be a great trust-building activity. Martial Arts are a form of self-defense that can improve self-esteem and help to release pent up aggression in a positive way.
If you’re hiring someone to train at your office, keep these tips in mind from Jeremy Pollack, self-defense expert for The Home Security Superstore: “It would be important know the instructor’s teaching style, attitude, methodology, and background to make sure she/he will not only deliver a reasonable workshop, but also that she/he fits with the culture of your workplace. Proper vetting is an absolute must if you’re looking for practical and competent self-defense training.”
Otherwise, many martial arts studios offer company discounts and can train your staff at their gym.
You can offer employees volunteer opportunities in many ways. Provide your staff with ways to donate financially, such as donating to the United Way each month and attending the yearly United Way luncheon as a group of donors.
To keep the focus on team bonding, schedule an evening to work at the local soup kitchen help out with the yard work for Habitat for Humanity. When you give, you shall receive, and that pertains to your company too. Build a giving and charitable reputation, and that will bring your employees together and boost office morale sky high.
Make sure to offer numerous training opportunities for employees. Listen to what your employees say they need, find the areas that could use improvement, and schedule the appropriate training sessions. It might by an advanced Excel seminar, a two-hour online course about harnessing social media, or a two-day retreat that pertains to the business and offers several classes.
You can even offer training that doesn’t pertain to your business. For example, you could all attend a cooking class or a pottery class. You might be surprised how these classes often translate back to the office in a positive way. There’s always room for improvement, growth and more knowledge, and providing your employees with the tools to expand their expertise is an added incentive for them to stay with the company.
10. Give Feedback
Provide regular and consistent feedback to your staff. If you don’t, you can’t expect them to know what changes they need to make in order to improve and grow within the company. This leaves them unable to adapt and shift focus as needed, which can be frustrating for go-getters and ambitious employees. Facilitate this with company meetings, as well as one-on-one sessions where you can discuss issues, both positive and negative, with your staff, providing feedback, advice and tips for moving forward, improving and more.
Any business can benefit from positive changes and team building. If you can implement even a few of these ideas, you’re sure to see a change in your office and a new positive energy and excitement radiating through your company. It’s refreshing to see how a few positive changes in the work environment can boost loyalty, productivity and overall success.
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