Good positive culture starts from the top. Leaders create culture, good or bad, through the language they use and the example they set. If their language and actions do not align, then their message will not go through and they will have little hope of creating a positive culture.
If leadership lives and breathes their values, shows empathy towards its people and gives them a purpose, then they are on their way to creating a great culture and a place people are happy to be.
What steps can business owners take to improve their culture?
Firstly, leadership needs to decide what the business stands for; what is their purpose and what values do they want their business to display.
Making your purpose bigger than the service or product that you provide is important. For example, cleaners don’t just wipe down surfaces, they protect people and keep them safe. Business leaders should make their staff understand this and make them proud of their contribution and make them feel valued.
Once the business has decided on its purpose and values, it then needs to create rituals that reinforce them.
A good ritual tells a story about the values/ purpose of the business and involves staff in that story. This makes them part of the story, it connects them to each other and contributes to a sense of belonging, predictability, and security.
A ritual could be in the form of a weekly huddle on-site to share stories about the past week. It could be a monthly awards ceremony or function. It could be as simple as the CEO of the business regularly going and talking to employees and maybe even helping out when staff are away.
The important thing is that the language and actions used in the rituals match the culture the leadership are trying to create. Overtime, when you start to see employees creating their own positive rituals, then you know your culture is on the right track.
Culture is something that evolves over time and requires constant nurturing. It’s easy for your culture to go backwards if you do not give it enough attention. Overtime, employees leave businesses and new ones come in. As such, it is vitally important that you bring in the right people and let go of the people that do not fit the culture you are creating. One bad apple can do a lot of damage, so try and avoid it at all costs, and deal with it quickly if you find one.
Finally, in the current economic environment, many people are ‘burned out,’ stressed and worried about the future. In these times it’s important that business leaders show that they care. Celebrate hard work, show empathy, help out, share stories, providing training and opportunities for growth, create flexibility and talk to each other.
How can business owners attract talent?
There is no doubt that this is a real challenge at the moment. The lack of immigration and the current restrictions on visa holders means that there is a smaller pool of people to attract. As such, the government has an important role in addressing this issue and business owners need to be savvy in attracting staff and working out how to do more with less.
Moving the supply issue to one side, there are obviously a number of monetary and non-monetary methods to incentivise workers to join and stay in the industry.
Firstly, you need to pay staff appropriately and give them enough work to make a living. If workers cannot support their families then they will not join or stay. It is as simple as that.
In order for this to work, your business needs to be paid appropriately for the work it does. You need to make a point of educating your clients of the true cost of paying someone so that you can be paid fairly for the products and services you provide.
Secondly, you need to provide workers with opportunities for progression, the right training so that they can progress, the freedom to take ownership of their work and recognition when they perform well. If you can provide these, along with a strong culture, then more workers will want to join and stay in the industry.
Finally, there is still a lot of opportunity out there. Those businesses that plan strategically, and get help to do so, will be in the best position to take these opportunities and to make it through the current economic environment stronger than ever.
This information is correct as of September 2023 provided solely for general information purposes and is not intended as professional advice. Readers should not act on the information contained therein without proper advice from a suitably qualified professional.
We expressly disclaim all liability for any loss or damage to any person or organisation for the consequences of anything done or omitted to be done by any such person relying on the contents of this information.