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How corporate culture can affect employee morale – and your profitability

Nailing corporate culture can have far-reaching benefits, and it doesn’t have to hurt your finances.

It can be easy for a small business owner to get into the habit of going through all expenses with a fine-tooth comb. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the balance sheet, but try to resist getting so caught up that you can no longer see the value of business culture change.

Getting it wrong can really add up in the long run as productivity drops and staff turnover increases. According to CV Library, a UK job board, 13.9 per cent of workers said that not getting on with the boss led them to quit. What’s more, 5.8 per cent quit because they didn’t like the role or working environment.

That doesn’t just mean more paperwork, it means more money – recruiting is expensive! Indeed, the cloud-based HR management system breatheHR, reports that poor corporate culture costs the UK economy £23.6 billion a year.

The good news is, you don’t need a large corporate budget to improve your corporate culture. Here are some cost-effective company culture ideas to try out.

Let’s start with the basics:

Manners cost nothing

It might sound obvious, but mind your Ps and Qs. Often in a small company, employees work in a fairly close environment. Breeding an ‘us and them’ mentality among staff and managers isn’t going to benefit anyone. Cultural management comes from the top, after all.

Say thank you when someone gets you a cuppa, and give your employees credit when they do something well.

Being treated with respect works wonders for employee morale. These really are basic qualities of a good leader, and crucial for positive workplace culture.

Keep your employees comfortable

There are no laws for maximum and minimum temperatures, but use your common sense. The Government does state that employers must stick to health and safety at work law. This includes a comfortable temperature and fresh air.

Make sure your workspace is also a pleasant place to be. You might not be able to afford a swish office like Google, but a few pot plants and a clean kitchen area go a long way.

Be an ethical employer

This will mean different things to different businesses – and their employees. It could mean using free-range, organic or local produce, or adopting green energy and sustainable environmental practices.

Of course, an employer should also be championing equal rights. Being seen to flout these laws can be costly, and can damage your reputation and bottom line. If you see unethical practices in your business, call them out.

Team bonding

Getting on with the people you work with has a huge impact on employee morale. A small company doesn’t need a big budget to encourage socialising.

Inviting everyone down the pub every now and then, organising a sports team, and company lunches can be a good place to start.

Train your staff

Remember – your business isn’t just about you. Your employees are trying to build their careers. The more opportunities they see for themselves at your business, the more likely it is that they will stick around.

Offering clear career paths is a good way to show people that they are valued, which is great for employee morale and corporate culture. It doesn’t hurt your business to have skilled employees, either.

Reward where you can

It’s not all about the cash incentives, although obviously handing out pay rises, where warranted, helps employee morale.

Sometimes, as much as they would love to, SMEs just can’t afford to offer a pay bump. In such circumstances, other rewards could and should be considered. For example, you can offer little things such as free snacks, discounts at stores, and travel vouchers.

At the end of the day, if you are looking to bring about culture change in the workplace, it’s important to remember your employees are only human.

They have their own personal goals, and they want to be respected and appreciated. It doesn’t have to be costly – act now and start building your ideal company culture today.

Recognising excellence

There are numerous ways to foster collaboration and genuine passion within your workforce. And they don’t need to cost a lot. But, when you look to the average league table for guidance on culture and perks, multimillion-pound businesses often take centre stage.

So Real Business and breatheHR launched their own, unique league table. It identifies 25 British SMEs that have nailed what it means to be a great place to work.

The following group of experts in corporate culture, authentic leadership and employee engagement decided which companies made the cut:

  • Jonathan Richards, CEO, breatheHR
  • Alex Currie, HR Director, GoCompare
  • Chris Dyer, Author of ​The Power of Company Culture
  • Phil Lewis, MD, Corporate Punk
  • Danny McCubbin, Jamie Oliver
  • Bretton Putter, Culture Gene
  • Zoe Jervier, Operating Partner of Talent, EQT Ventures
  • Praseeda Nair, Editorial Director, Real Business & Business Advice

Moderator: Shane Schutte, Deputy Editor, Real Business

The judges ranked highly SMEs that drove culture from the top. These business leaders consistently followed values, clearly emphasised career development and wellbeing, and demonstrated genuine care for staff.

Watch this space to find out who comprises the 25-strong list.

For more business tips, interviews and inspiring stories from business leaders, visit Caspian Media’s Real Business and Business Advice.

By Letitia Booty, Special Projects Journalist, Real Business and Business Advice

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