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What’s in a culture anyway? As a small business, you’ve already got a lot on your plate. End of year audits, client care, trying to get that Zoom link to work. It’s not surprising that conversations about company culture end up on the back burner and unfortunately, never get picked back up again.

But company culture is more important than you think. According to research by Deloitte, 88% of employees believe that a distinct corporate culture has a direct impact on the success of your business. It’s not just a buzz word, it directly impacts how you employees think, feel, and perform at work.

It also impacts you bottom-line, with a study demonstrating that poor culture causes a third of employees to quit and costs the UK economy up to £23.6 billion per year. So, how do small businesses create a great company culture? In this article, we’ve outlined five ways you can start creating a culture to be proud of.


Get everybody on the same page

Building a company culture to be proud of involves making sure everybody is on the same page. Communicating your purpose openly and honestly with your employees will make them feel like a part of your company’s journey. According to research, 44% of SMEs believed a positive culture made their employees go the extra mile. 

In the early stages of your small business, culture is often led by its senior team and developed from the top down. Netflix is a great example of clearly stating purpose, with a culture statement that clearly outlines the values and qualities they expect their employees to bring to the table.

Make your employees feel valued

happy employeeCulture isn’t just about leadership, creating a culture people want to be part of involves everybody at every level of your small business. Make yours a positive one, powered by peer-to-peer recognition, by saying thank you when it’s deserved and encouraging others to do the same.

Go one step further by taking the time to spotlight and reward people who champion the values of your business. 

Feature them in your company newsletter, give them a shout-out in your next monthly meeting, or send them an eCard which clearly outlines what they did well and post it for everyone to see.

Support work-life balance

Creating a great culture is all about making your small business a place that people want to work, meaning your environment and the way people can work is a vital component. Flexible working is becoming an increasingly important benefit, with a survey finding that 42% of people within SMEs consider flexible hours a desirable benefit and a further 29% saying they value the choice to work from home highly. 

Support work-life balance wherever possible by giving your employees the choice to pick when and where they want to work. Offering flexible hours and a range of places to work - a local coffee shop, a co-working space, or simply in their dining room - will make your employees feel supported and empower them to do their best work.

employee connections

Create fun social spaces 

Whether you’re all together in an office, a hybrid blend of remote and in-office employees, or you have an entirely remote team based around the world, a simple but critical part of culture is relationships. Nurture team relationships by creating fun social spaces, virtual and IRL, for your teams to chat and blow off steam.

This could be a communication channel for people to discuss mutual interests, share a funny GIF or a pet photo, or just chit chat during a coffee break. Or you could get your employees together for a virtual yoga session! Reward Gateway for Small Business has a wide range of on-demand videos that your teams could do together.

Encourage peer-to-peer recognition

As we touched on earlier, building a strong culture is a team effort. A simple but effective way of building a positive culture is to encourage your employees to recognise each other’s success and hard work, which has been proven to be more effective than direct manager’s saying thank you.

A study by Harvard Business School found that positive recognition from colleagues can increase productivity by 7%. eCards, available in Reward Gateway for Small Business, are free and easy-to-use. People can send ready-made cards recognising what other people have done well and add a personalised message to make it feel extra special. You can also use built-in analytics to see who is recognised the most and who is going the extra mile, to reward them on a bigger scale if you wish.

social recognition wall

Key takeaways

All in all, creating a great culture in your small business can have tons of benefits for your people and your long-term business strategy. Here are the key takeaways from how to build a great culture.

  • Get everybody on the same page by communicating your purpose and the qualities you value in your company culture, so employees know what to bring
  • Make your employees feel valued by saying thank you when it matters most and shining a spotlight on those who got the extra mile
  • Support work-life balance by offering flexible benefits, whether that’s flexible work schedules or an environment of their choosing
  • Create fun social spaces, virtually and in-person, for your teams to build strongest relationships and get to know each other better
  • Encourage peer-to-peer recognition as part of your company culture, to create a culture that makes everyone feel recognised and appreciated

We are obsessed with our mission to make the world a better place to work. Sign up for a free trial of Reward Gateway for Small Business and let us help you motivate and reward your workforce.

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Pippa Arthur-Van Praagh

Pippa is our Product Strategy & Enablement Director, with a laser focus on refining our product to align with client needs and challenges. With over 15 years’ experience modernizing systems to better engage employees, she’s passionate about translating customer insights into innovative products that make the world a better place to work.

Product Strategy & Enablement Director

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