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Expert Advice for Medium and Midsize Businesses

Sustaining Company Culture in a Changing World

A strong company culture offers unlimited benefits. It helps attract top talent, it decreases turnover, it enhances your company’s brand identity (which helps appeal to customers and increase customer loyalty), and it strengthens chemistry among your team, among many other things.

But how can small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) create and sustain company culture in today’s changing world? How can SMBs deliver a culture that’s capable of competing with today’s corporate giants, who have unlimited budgets and cool perks?

To learn how business owners and leaders can create a company culture that successfully engages and retains their workforce, Oracle SMB asked our Twitter community to weigh in during a recent Tweetchat, Sustaining Company Culture in a Changing World. Continue reading to see the answers we received.

Why is company culture so important today, especially for SMBs?

A great culture can help SMBs attract and retain the quality employees the need to compete. A big challenge for every biz! Also helps SMBs grow faster, be more productive, weather downturns. There’s obviously no downside.
– Karen Kerrigan (@KarenKerrigan), CEO and President, U.S. Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council

Company culture is especially important at a small business. It can be your “lure” to attract and retain staff.
– Rieva Lesonsky (@Rieva), Founder and Contributing Writer, SmallBizDaily.com

Growth, productivity and customer satisfaction are all linked to culture. There are all positive outcomes with a great culture.
– Gwendolyn Turner (@GwenFTurner), President, Princeton Proper

A good company culture creates an emotional connection and represents specific values. People are loyal to what they feel emotionally connected to and feel they have shared values with.
– Ali Davies (@Ali_Davies)

Because, contrary to what is often assumed, a company’s greatest asset is not its product or service. Its greatest asset is its PEOPLE.
– Joel Peterson (@Joelyoh), Society of Human Resources Senior Certified Professional

Think of Ben & Jerry’s, Harley Davidson or Starbucks. They were all once small businesses that grew by having unique company culture. It is part of their DNA.
– @UrbanSuccess

Fill in the blank: The key to a great company culture is ___________.

The key to a great company culture is commitment, trust, and authentic engagement. Also, consistency.
– Karen Kerrigan (@KarenKerrigan), CEO and President, U.S. Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council

Three words: Clearly defined values. Values offer a roadmap, they demonstrate what’s important to your company. What does your company believe? Write it down and create a culture that supports it!
– Gwendolyn Turner (@GwenFTurner), President, Princeton Proper

The key to a great company culture is open and transparent communication, trust and integrity from the top down, and a sense of purpose.
– Carrie Maslen (@Carrie Maslen), Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Gilroy Associates

Great question. Open mindedness. Willing to listen to all ideas. Gratitude. Most important, live your mission. Stand behind what you say. Do as you say. It’s about authenticity.
– Rieva Lesonsky (@Rieva), Founder and Contributing Writer, SmallBizDaily.com

I think the key to a great company culture is gratitude. From the top down, everyone being thankful that they are part of a winning team and formula. It will make employees run to work every day.
– Brian Moran (@BrianMoran), CEO of Brian Moran & Associates, Award-winning Business Strategist

The key to a great company culture is trust. Trust in the people you hired, to do what you hired them for. Transparency. Being transparent, upfront, frank, honest with your employees is key to having a great company culture.
– Joel Peterson (@Joelyoh), Society of Human Resources Senior Certified Professional

The key to a great company culture is clarity, commitment, and communication, and every person in the company living and working by the core values that create that culture.
– Ali Davies (@Ali_Davies)

Are there any immediate steps SMBs can take to improve culture and keep employees engaged?

Start planting seeds and put in consistent effort. Get the communications going. Share goals and priorities and how each employee is critical to those. Ask: Do you have the tools you need to do your job/work?
– Karen Kerrigan (@KarenKerrigan), CEO and President, U.S. Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council

A low cost way to improve culture is to lead a focus group. Ask questions, solicit advice and create a small team to implement changes. Summer is coming up. Plan a group outing that’s a mix of business and social. June is always a great time to review mid-year results and enjoy cold drinks! Create a culture plan. Determine your vision, then create the steps to get there. A great culture is a journey. Start small and work your way up!
– Gwendolyn Turner (@GwenFTurner), President, Princeton Proper

Walk around. Talk to your staff. Do you actually know how they feel? What they think? Can you hold a town hall?
– Rieva Lesonsky (@Rieva), Founder and Contributing Writer, SmallBizDaily.com

When you see something (wrong or otherwise off), say something immediately. Call it out. Flush it out. Fix it! Communicate! Act on concerns/issues raised AND risk over communicating about it as you do. Don’t assume your people know and trust that you’re fixing what’s wrong. Be present! Absence does not make the heart grow fonder in this case. When there is an issue, your people need to see you working with them, that you’re present and engaged along with them. Break down the barriers! As the leader of your business, one of your key roles is the removal of the obstacles that impede your people from succeeding. Break down the barriers. Remove the roadblocks. Toss out the bad apples.
– Joel Peterson (@Joelyoh), Society of Human Resources Senior Certified Professional

Read the full recap of the Tweetchat: Sustaining Company Culture in a Changing World

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