Smaller, growth-oriented businesses don’t always have excess cash to throw at flashy perks like on-site gyms, day-care centers, and coffee bars, but they still have to find ways to compete for the best talent with larger companies that have bigger benefits budgets. The good news is most talented, ambitious candidates have higher priorities when it comes to choosing the next step on their career paths. That’s why human resource experts recommend focusing on more practical ways to attract top talent such as building a strong culture in the workplace.

If your business is in high-growth mode, it may not seem like it’s that important to focus on building culture. However, according to past research by Deloitte, 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe strong company culture is important to business success. Some employees struggle to find value or meaning in their work without a strong culture, leading to negative impacts on engagement, productivity, and your bottom line.

Learn about the different types of company culture and why it’s important for small businesses to focus on building a team culture. Discover these practical steps to define and build a strong company culture.

Work culture definition

According to SHRM, a strong culture comes from the top. Business leaders agree on and adopt the cultural priorities of the organization, define how those values should be carried out, and communicate those values to employees and prospective candidates. Culture doesn’t just happen by magic. Rather, Gallup describes culture as the day-to-day actions of your workforce and your employees’ shared values, thoughts, rituals, and behaviors. These factors influence how each employee acts and makes decisions.

For example, one small business shares the values that define its work culture:

  • Communicate openly and honestly

  • Focus on customers first

  • Be helpful and supportive

  • Take initiative and work hard

  • Be passionate and have fun

These values have become part of the employee experience; it helps employees know where the business is going and helps guide business leader decisions.

Four practical steps to build your business culture

Once you’ve defined your core values, it’s time to ensure your vision becomes reality. There are different types of work culture your business can foster including a transparent work culture, values-based culture, or team culture. Whatever type you choose, it’s important to clearly define behaviors, communicate them, and lead by example. Here are some practical steps you can take to ensure your business builds a culture that attracts and retains top talent.

1. Assess what your culture looks like now.

An article in Harvard Business Review suggests that business leaders begin by analyzing their current culture to “understand what outcomes the culture produces and how it does or doesn’t align with current and anticipate market and business conditions.” Try to examine your culture from the view of an outsider or seek expert help from an HR as a Service vendor. The goal is to understand how employees are interacting with each other and serving your customers as well as when conflicts arise and how they are resolved. 

Once you get a clear picture of the culture styles your business currently follows, you can plan how your culture needs to shift to meet your goals.

2. Reinforce values you want to keep and make appropriate changes to shape the culture you desire.

Your culture assessment will reveal some things you want to change in your business. These behaviors can be small improvements such as encouraging employees to be on time for meetings to larger improvements like fostering better teamwork in your organization. To support the change, business leaders should clearly define the steps that need to be taken. For example, define rules, communicate expectations, and assign consequences for those resistant to change

Businesses can utilize online training and blended learning programs to strengthen values and reinforce behaviors for the desired workplace culture.

3. Optimize recruiting practices.

In order to support and strengthen your business culture, it’s also important to hire the right people that share your vision and goals. Hiring isn’t always about getting people with the right skills; it’s also about attitude and fit. Design interview questions that will help you assess if a potential candidate shares your values and understands your goals. 

For example, consider asking: 1) Could you tell me something you’ve taught yourself in the last six months, or 2) What has shaped you besides school or your occupation?  

4. Build programs that reinforce your values.

Think about ways you can support and reinforce the core values of your business—without breaking the budget. For example, you can design some simple recognition programs that reward or simply acknowledge employees who exemplify core values. Encourage employees to model this behavior on a consistent basis by sharing notes of gratitude with one another. 

While your organization is still small in numbers, it’s important to foster a collaborative work environment from the beginning. Find ways to support team unity and strengthen relationships between employees and managers. 

Always value honesty

When your business is
in survival mode, or you’re working hard to take it to the next level, you’re not going to be able to guarantee that employees have a good work-life balance—and that’s ok. It’s important for you as a business owner or leader to be honest and up front about it with both current and prospective employees. 

Growth-oriented businesses can bring in fully certified HR professionals to help with job or culture needs assessments, recruitment, and onboarding. Fully outsourced HR is built for growing companies that haven’t yet built an in-house HR team or instead want to focus time and money on the core business. With a team of HR experts on your side, you’ll have access to tools, resources, and manpower needed to effectively build a small business culture that attracts and retains the talent you need to grow your business.

Unlock your growth potential

Talk with one of experts to explore how Asure can help you reduce administrative burdens and focus on growth.